01/24/2022

Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

Council call extraordinary meeting to deal with mishandling of complaint of sexual assault at a school

A special meeting to look more closely at the circumstances of a mishandled complaint made to the council about a sexual assault at school is to be held.

Cllr Jacob Williams called for an extraordinary governance and audit committee to be held to discuss the full Public Services Ombudsman report on the case of Mrs A and her daughter B after he had been sent the full report by the complaint and felt the summary report overlooked a number of issues.

He said the summary did not “do justice to the full report” and greater discussion was needed.

The Ombudsman ruled that Pembrokeshire County Council failed to deal with Mrs A’s complaint properly and Cllr Williams said it had “dismissed her as a nuisance.”

Cllr Mike Stoddart added at Tuesday’s (November 30) committee that he was “shocked” to see that Mrs A was threatened with being listed as a “vexatious complainant” by the then chief executive Ian Westley and director of education Kate Evan-Hughes.

This was something cabinet member Cllr Tessa Hodgson said at Tuesday’s meeting she did not agree with but her arguments were not heeded, adding she had found Mrs A to be “tenacious” in standing up for her daughter.

The committee had been due to consider the Ombudsman’s summary report on the matter but it will now reconsider it, most likely in private, with Mrs A to be asked to continue.

“The complainant was not treated fairly, I think we need to hear from the complainant,” added Cllr Williams.

Cllr Stoddart also highlighted the need for discussion of “internal school management” which the Ombudsman said was out of his jurisdiction but concerns remain to be addressed.

A number of elements of the 2019 complaint were upheld by the Ombudsman and the failings were found to have caused “significant stress, distress and inconvenience, what was an injustice to them.”

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