Christine Pratt back in the spotlight over conflict of interest concerns


Further questions have been raised about the approach of anti-bullying charity boss and chartered fellow of the CIPD, Christine Pratt, after a source revealed concerns about conflict of interest had led to a complaint being made to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The source, who asked not to be named, told Personnel Today that she approached Pratt’s National Bullying Helpline (NBH) in 2008 about bullying in her organisation, but claims the subsequent action by Pratt amounted to a conflict of interest.

The source said she was advised by the NBH to lodge a grievance and send a template letter to her employer recommending the use of HR & Diversity Management’s services to conduct an investigation on behalf of the employer. The organisation provides HR support to small firms and was set up by Pratt before the NBH was founded.

The source claims Pratt (pictured left) – who gained notoriety after revealing that staff at 10 Downing Street had called her helpline – effectively withdrew support for her and instead carried out the investigation on behalf of the employer, with the final report heavily critical of the complainant.

The complainant appealed to the employer about Pratt’s report, and it found in the source’s favour, stating that Pratt’s language was ‘biased’ and ’emotive’. However, when the source complained to the CIPD about Pratt’s approach, the institute found no case to answer.

When contacted by Personnel Today, Pratt said: “The CIPD investigated this case thoroughly and found there was no case to answer for.”

An anti-bullying campaigner, who asked to remain anonymous, called on the CIPD to investigate Pratt, the complaint relating to staff at 10 Downing Street, and recent allegations over her investigative capability relating to bullying cases at Durham County Council and a school in Plymouth.

“The HR profession needs comfort that procedures are robust enough to identify and deal with anyone without the requisite professional competence or who fail to adhere to the CIPD’s codes of conduct,” the campaigner said.

The call followed comments from a large number of HR professionals that Pratt should be investigated over apparent breaches of confidence relating to staff at 10 Downing Street (Personnel Today, 2 March).

A CIPD spokesman said it could not comment on specific cases. “Our code of conduct and Frequently Asked Questions to accompany it are on our website,” he said. “We have no intention of contributing further to ‘trial by media’ on this issue.”

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