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February 22, 2010

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Brown ‘bullying’ row rumbles on

The Liberal Democrat leader has weighed into the political storm caused by claims that the prime minister mistreated staff.

Speaking today (22 February) on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Nick Clegg said: “I do think this does need to be cleared up by Number 10 as quickly as possible.”

He continued: “Bullying is wrong. It is totally out of order in whatever walk of life you work, however important you are. . . We’ve just had a weekend when Gordon Brown said he wanted to deliver fairness to everybody, and now he’s facing very serious allegations that he’s not being fair at all to the people working closest to him.”

The Observer newspaper is serialising a book by its chief political commentator, Andrew Rawnsley, which alleges not only that Brown bullied staff but that he had been warned about his behaviour by the cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell. The boss of an anti-bullying helpline has also added fuel to the fire by claiming that the charity had received calls from individuals working for Brown.

The Cabinet Office has issued a strongly-worded denial that a verbal warning was ever given to the prime minister, while questions have also been asked about the motives of Christine Pratt, who runs the National Bullying Helpline at the centre of the allegations.

As the BBC’s political correspondent, Nick Robinson, reported in his blog yesterday, some have pointed out that the helpline’s website features a supporting statement from David Cameron and that it lists Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe as a patron. Questions are also being asked as to why Ms Pratt risked compromising the confidentiality of her callers. Indeed, the Guardian newspaper has reported that workplace stress expert Cary Cooper has resigned as a patron of the charity on account of the confidentiality breach.

However, Ms Pratt has insisted that she is not politically-motivated, or that any of the callers described Brown as a bully. She clarified to the BBC: “Our concern here is the public statement from Number 10 of denial.”

The Justice Committee could decide to raise the subject on Wednesday when it is due to hear evidence from the cabinet secretary in relation to its inquiry on ‘constitutional processes following a general election’.

What makes us susceptible to burnout?

In this episode  of the Safety & Health Podcast, ‘Burnout, stress and being human’, Heather Beach is joined by Stacy Thomson to discuss burnout, perfectionism and how to deal with burnout as an individual, as management and as an organisation.

We provide an insight on how to tackle burnout and why mental health is such a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace.


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