Wisbech town clerk claims he was “bullied”

Wisbech Town Clerk Erbie Murat claims two leading councillors “bullied, harassed, intimidated, threatened and victimised” him in a “premeditated and co-ordinated attack”.

The extraordinary allegations have been made public this week in papers for next Thursday’s Fenland council Conduct Committee, which will hear Mr Murat’s complaint against Councillors David Oliver and Jonathan Farmer.

In a lengthy submission to the committee, which investigates allegations of misconduct against local government figures from both district and parish councils, Mr Murat claims a meeting with both men - who are the town council’s leader and deputy leader - on January 7 was “a premeditated, co-ordinated attack on me and the office of the town clerk for Wisbech Town Council. In doing so they breached my employment contract.”

Mr Murat also alleges that an email circulated to members regarding his own suspension from duties over allegations of misconduct, was leaked to the local press.

Mr Murat, claims “these behaviours have sought to embarrass, intimidate, and humiliate me and had an extremely deleterious effect on me in a variety of ways”.

These include his health - it is believed Mr Murat has been off sick since his 30-day suspension was imposed. He also claims his son Stuart’s chances of going to university could have been affected because “he faced questions from his peer group at school on the first day of national exams, distracting him from the focus of his exams”.

Mr Murat made his allegations in a letter to Fenland’s monitoring officer Alan Pain on January 22 and claimed Mr Oliver had suspended him as a “direct result of concerns raised previously over victimisation”.

Mr Oliver sent a letter dated January 7 to Mr Murat informing of his suspension from his post as town clerk.

In it Mr Oliver wrote: “On January 7 you committed acts of misconduct listed in the staff handbook that every employee is expected to follow. This has not been the first time you have done this either.”

Mr Murat alleges he is facing trial by “media” because he has not had a chance to defend himself.

In his defence Mr Oliver has written to Mr Pain stating the conservations with Mr Murat had been carried out “in a non-confrontational way, questions were asked in a normal manner, (no raised voice)”.

He also accused Mr Murat of refusing to answer questions and “he got up, showed a hand gesture and went to leave the meeting”.

Mr Oliver also pointed out the issues surrounding Mr Murat and his suspension had been taken out of his hands and given to a sub committee, and he has played no further part in the matter.

Mr Farmer, in his submission, has dismissed the complaint against him. He states: “This complaint appears to be both irrelevant and vexatious. I believe any standards committee would be inclined to agree with me.”

However, he has reserved the right to defend himself further should the need arise.

The issue of Mr Murat’s suspension remains a mystery. It was due to expire on February 6, but his deputy Susanah Farmer confirmed Mr Murat had not returned to work and was not in work today (Thursday), but said she could not go into why that is stating “it’s personal”.

The issue is on Monday night’s town council agenda, but again Mrs Farmer could not say whether or not it would discussed other than to agree the minutes of a meeting held on February 18.