back to article Blears sackee nothing to do with TheyWorkForYou

The civil servant sacked for being slightly rude about Hazel Blears did not post any comment on TheyWorkForYou: she only used the site to find Blears' personal website. Lisa Greenwood used Google to find a contact for Hazel Blears. This took her to Hazel Blears' page on TheyWorkForYou, and from there she clicked through to …

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Anonymous Coward

Sounds more like she needs to read her contract properly

in order to explain the interception of her email

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Troll

Typical left-wing liberal lying socialist media scum

I look forward to lots of remarks by idiots about how the liberal media is full of lies, and how it's only the Holy Sword Of Right-Wing Journalism that saves us from Evil X.

Where Evil X is whatever fills them with terror these days. You see I never could understand why us liberals are apparently such cowards - we're not the ones running around in fear demanding that everything that moves be blasted in case it eats us.

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Headmaster

'calling Hazel Blears "a disgrace" could be construed as a political statement'

Only if it wasnt so blatantly true.

She is a disgrace to politicians of ALL parties and to the country in general, therefore it is NOT a political statement. It is just a statement of the honest truth.

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Anonymous Coward

Calling Blears a disgrace isn't a political statement...

...it's a statement of fact!

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@Alpha Tony

An honest statement with political implications is still a political statement.

Why do you think politicians are so against answering questions directly? Culpability. A true statement made by a politician is going to be written down and analysed by press, internal investigators, and opposition members for any hint of either fact-giving or expression of honest opinion, neither of which are allowed by current politics.

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A thousand voices cry 'Durr!'

OK, silly move to make with just a lack of computer-savviness thrown in.

Tinfoil hats to the ready, now. Did one of Hazel Blears' staff complain, or did the gub'mint office check the mail?

My money's on an apparatchik from Blears' staff complaining as it was probably their 'duty to point out any breach of civil service regulations' and not at all a 'let's lose this complainant their job'.

It's interesting that our glorious leaders are happy to have 'civil servants' being partisan when they're singing the praises of the party in power, but whine when it's the other way round.

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Title

That makes perfect sense. Blears received an email from an official Civil Service address, and quite understandably complained to the department concerned.

I feel that a Civil Servant that stupid deserves to be fired. She wouldn't probably have received an automatic email acknowledgement.

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@ Title

"She wouldn't probably have received an automatic email acknowledgement.""

I meant "would have".

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Unhappy

Sigh

I think that this demonstrates exactly what is wrong with the media today. Journalists seem to have an agenda, and will jump rabidly on any story that seems to confirm that agenda. Rather than attempting to actually do some journalism and attempting to work out what actually happened, they will just regurgitate something written elsewhere and spin it in the direction of their own predjudice.

Don't get me wrong, I am not in favour of everything that this government has done, but I do wish that a sense of partisanship might be re-exerted in the world of news gathering.

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Anonymous Coward

How vindictive !

So a party worker at Blear's place gets a stroppy little note.

No doubt given Blear's personality and recent track record they get a lot of stroppy little notes. Most of which I guess are just binned.

Not this one though - recognising the senders email domain they have a chance to give someone a kicking.

Listening governement ? My arse ...

Cowards and hypocrites the lot of them.

(off to find blear's email address ... )

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Silliness encounters pettiness?

Whilst I believe she was daft to send an email from her own address, and it was Blears' staff who dobbed her in, it smacks of extreme pettiness to do so. There's always the 'delete' button.... wonder if Blears has anything to say on this?

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No interception...

... I suspect the "contact me" button was a simple mailto: link which would have opened a new message with her default email client.

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Silver badge
Big Brother

more rubbish

It isn't what you've done that is wrong, its the way you used a computer system to accomplish it which is forbidden.

This doesn't appear to be a public statement, it was a private email to Blears, not a comment posted on a bulletin board.

There's no such thing as a non-political statement. "Sit down and have a cup of tea." is a political statement if the person you are with someone and you are both supposed to be in the house of Commons supporting a government bill.

Perhaps there's something I'm missing here, but this doesn't appear to warrant a sacking.

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Political?

Weasel word... if the comment was addressed directly to Hazel Blears it's rather stretching the term to make it "political" which I would interpret more narrowly, confining it to public statements.

As for bringing her department into disrepute... I think it could be argued it did the opposite, so even on the balance of probabilities no case to answer.

Not the smartest thing to do from a work a/c but a rap on the knuckles should have sufficed.

The problem with the Command Economy mindset is the tendency to overproduce sledgehammers and then to look for uses for them...

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

What's with all the Blears love on here?

Goddam weirdos.

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Pint

So...not quite dystopia

So not at all the 1984 secret investigation of an anonymous poster that we were led to believe in yesterday's article.

Some stupidity on the young Lisa's part - but frankly, if MPs and their staff were fired for stupid actions, there wouldn't be very many left working. Disciplined? Perhaps. Fired, no.

I still hope she takes them to tribunal - she'll win.

A pint of lager - because that's what I'd buy her.

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Black Helicopters

"construed as a political statement"?

Never mind that... she's lucky it wasn't construed as revealing a state secret!

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WTF?

@No interception

>"I suspect the "contact me" button was a simple mailto: link"

It's utterly irrelevant what the "contact me" button was and/or how it worked. Talk about missing the wood for the trees.

She explicitly stated that she went to Hazel Blears' own website and used it to send email directly to Hazel Blears. No further explanation of how she got busted is needed. Why on earth are you trying to play Sherlock Holmes over some tiny detail of how the website is implemented?

(Also, instead of random guesswork like you, I bothered to actually go and look it up, since all the links are right there in the story. FYI, the "Contact me" button is not a mailto. It's a navbar button that takes you to a page full of contact details. One of them is a mailto link, but suppose it had been a webform instead: what difference would that make to anything at all?)

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Headmaster

One has to wonder

If calling Blears a disgrace was against the civil service code, would she have been sacked for expressing the opposite sentiment?

"It is terrible the manner in which you have been excoriated for something that wasn't against the rules. You have been a brilliant MP and Minister. Why aren't you still in the Cabinet?"

Didn't think so! Unless she'd then be caught out by the code against blatent lying and/or sarcasm...

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Welcome

point being missed repeatedly

Your commentards repeatedly miss the point: the CS contract quite rightly makes it a disciplinary offense to use work email for political purposes. She breached that, so disciplinary action was inevitable.

I do think that sacking her is a bit extreme, unless there were prior incidents or exacerbating circumstances in terms of the language used, copies sent to the press, or whatever. A written warning would seem more appropriate.

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Stop

Indeed

"calling Hazel Blears "a disgrace" could be construed as a political statement."

True but it could also be called a trueism too, although if you're going to use your work email address to mail abuse you're not the sharpest tool in the box are you?

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Big Brother

Where's the outrage?

None of the left leaners who start shouting about "freedom of speech" the moment one of their clique is so much as criticized has seen the need to speak up for this persecuted soul's right to expression. It seems we must thank Blears herself, or her staff, for being thick enough to take the gist of a private email and blazon it across multiple publications.

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re: I still hope she takes them to tribunal - she'll win.

No, no she won't. Whatever you think of Blears, or the petty bastard who dobbed her in, and whatever you think of the terms of her contract of employment is irrelevant. The fact is she agreed to abide by them when she signed up to work for whatever dept. it was, and the rules are very clear on what civil servants can and cannot say.

This is 100% her own fault.

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Anonymous Coward

To be expected really

To be honest, its her own fault. The rules are clear, and whilst sacking may be harsh, it was always a possibility. Whether or not the rule would be enforced for an email full of praise is somewhat irrelevant. Its not a reflection on the validity of a rule which exists to ensure we work to the best of our abilities no matter who is in power. They could equally well have done her for wasting taxpayers money by using the work system for personal means. Sending email does have a cost, albeit tiny. Harsh but bang to rule in both cases

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FAIL

Rulz?

Sure, work code explicitly forbids the usage of a work email account for purposes outside what your job functions entail.

Still, I don't see how its correct to betray private correspondence for a silly revenge.

Well, I should expect anything well from a woman that could have served Dr. Seuss as a model for a Grinchette.

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@Charles Calthrop

What if she were to argue in her case that calling Blears "a disgrace" isn't a political comment, but rather a truism (as people have pointed out). It's as plain a fact as GB is Scottish.

The woman defrauded HMRC, paid back money that she's adamant was gained legally, resigned from her post at the same time as insulting her previous boss (GB). In civilised society, that is disgraceful.

Have to agree that she wouldn't win, but it would be great to hear in the news: "Civil servant defends calling Blears a disgrace as a factual statement rather than political"

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Megaphone

Contact

If you would like to email Blears yourself, having checked your employment contract carefully for gag orders and other denials of your basic human rights, her email address is:

blearsh@parliament.uk

Of course I wouldn't dream of advising you what to say, but I'm sure she would welcome a kind word just now, were you disposed to uttering such a thing.

(Moderator- This address comes from her own website's contact page, and is therefore not private in any way.)

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WTF?

WTF

"None of the left leaners who start shouting about 'freedom of speech' "

If freedom of speech has a "side" in non-authoritarian (or liberal) politics it is on the right, in that the right are more likely to invoke it than the left, usually as a comment against state control. The left are more likely to consider that curtailing hate speech is a good thing. But there are no hard and fasts.

"the moment one of their clique is so much as criticized has seen the need to speak up for this persecuted soul's right to expression. It seems we must thank Blears herself, or her staff, for being thick enough to take the gist of a private email ... "

It's like this. If you send me an email I will do whatever I like with "the gist of [that] email", non-binding legal disclaimers at the bottom notwithstanding. Unless you do actually oblige me to not reveal the contents with an NDA that I have agreed to beforehand or have.

"and blazon [sic] it across multiple publications."

It was the right-wing press that published this non-story, of their own rather ill-advised volition.

Your comment is so divorced from reality, that another WTF is deserved.

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Coffee/keyboard

The Sacker Should be Investigated

@an anonymous coward: "Whether or not the rule would be enforced for an email full of praise is somewhat irrelevant. Its not a reflection on the validity of a rule which exists to ensure we work to the best of our abilities no matter who is in power. They could equally well have done her for wasting taxpayers money by using the work system for personal means. Sending email does have a cost, albeit tiny."

If the senior civil servant responsible for the sackee's sacking IS differentiating between the sending of emails full of praise about members of the government and those critical (or just true in Lisa's case) this would be a *far* more serious example of the misuse of civil service resources for political purposes.

Just add up the cost of the man-hours going into the sacking process it will come to many *millions* of times more than the alleged nano-pence the original email would have cost to send.

The senior civil servant should be instantly investigated now for political bias in his sacking procedures.

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Big Brother

@John Dee

"It was the right-wing press that published this non-story, of their own rather ill-advised volition."

Leaving aside the curious idea that there is a "right-wing press" of any moment in this country or elsewhere (I give you the Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph), how did any press find out about the story? It appears to have originated as a private email. First reports apparently said it was published on a web page of some kind, but that turns out not to be true. So where did the press get the initial story? It seems to me that it must have been made public by the recipient of the email or her lackeys. If you know differently, please do tell.

I don't say there was anything to prohibit Blears/lackeys from publicizing the email. Their own good sense should have served to prevent it, but it appears that they lack this quality.

I have had an auto-reply so my own email, which says that I must show myself to be a constituent of Ms. Blears in order to have my issue dealt with, in fact it says:

"There is a strict Parliamentary protocol which states that MPs may only deal with enquiries and cases on behalf of their own constituents. I cannot deal with cases from outside of the Salford Constituency, they are rightly the responsibility of local MPs."

I wonder if Ms. Greenwood is a resident of Salford. Can it be that Blears has broken yet another parliamentary rule in "dealing" with her enquiry?

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@AC 7th July 2009 10:52 GMT

So you call me lazy for not following the link, then say that the link takes you to a page where there is, in fact, a simple mailto: link. Confirming my guess, nice work feller.

My point wasn't in defence of the situation, I was simply saying that the situation probably wasn't discovered as a result of snooping as the black helicopter brigade would assume.

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Civil Service Contract?

I don't believe there is such a thing as the CS contract mentioned by Anonymous Coward.

I certainly never had an employee contract and I was there for over 30 years (my own fault entirely, I know).

Your (my) working conditions as a Civil Servant were specified by The Official Secrets Act and the Civil Service Code.

http://www.civilservice.gov.uk/about/work/cscode/index.aspx

These were supplemented by a very fat Departmental Book of Staff Instructions (later Guidance, of course).

It was never specified that email couldn't be used for political purposes. I was barred from doing almost anything for political purposes without management approval. And I was also barred from using the Internet for anything other work.

Normally, for a particular Department, it would be clear what merits instant dismissal, although fiddling expenses would normally be a dismissal offence in any Department. Or is that a different case?

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WTF?

@Apocalypse Later

"Leaving aside the curious idea that there is a "right-wing press" of any moment [sic] in this country or elsewhere"

Wow. Just wow. Just woweeeeeeeeee. You just can't stop pressing that idiot button can you? The Times, The Financial Times, The Mail, The Express, The Sun ... perhaps you'ld like to explain how these papers are in any way leftist. The Sun supports New Labour you say? Yes, and they're both slightly right of centre.

You really have bought into this "liberal media" lie haven't you? Yeah, Rupert Murdoch's a lefty liberal socialist pinko commie. Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Twat.

"how did any press find out about the story?"

Who cares? Why did they publish a factually incorrect story? They published it, not her, they are to blame. Civil servants, politicians, spads, etc leak to the press the whole time. It is a very naive journalist who does not check their facts before publishing. Although in this case I would hazard that they spoke to the ex-employee and just didn't understand what she told them, mangled their notes and wrote some rubbish in attempt to ride their expenses scandal wave. In short, they were foist by their own petard.

"It seems to me that it must have been made public by the recipient of the email or her lackeys. If you know differently, please do tell."

Given that the original Telegraph article directly quotes the ex-employee, it is quite clear that they have had a conversation with her. I offer you the possibility that ... drum roll ... she spoke to the paper and no one in HM Gov had anything to do with it.

"I don't say there was anything to prohibit Blears/lackeys from publicizing the email. Their own good sense should have served to prevent it, but it appears that they lack this quality."

Given the predictable response to this story, namely outrage, why are being so stupid as to suggest that Blears herself leaked the story? If you knew anything about politics you'ld understand that if this was leaked by anyone, they were most certainly not an ally of Blears.

"Can it be that Blears has broken yet another parliamentary rule in 'dealing' with her enquiry?"

WTF? There was no enquiry, simply an abusive email. She didn't deal with that email, in that she didn't attempt to answer it. She quite possibly did what I might do upon receipt of an abusive email: contact the relevant abuse address.

In no way does any of that constitute "dealing with an enquiry". Enough with the fucktardery.

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Paris Hilton

Strange ol' world innit?

Ah, the UK, its politicians and civil servantry (or was it (un)civil servantry or civil (un) servantry? I forget - make your own minds up).

Now then, As these glorious pages of el Reg will shoorli sho it is totally acceptable to blast, blame, castigate, ... an MP or politician.

On the other hand should one wish to blast, blame, castigate, ... a civil servant "Lo! What folly aboundz!"

It really is a reflection of the culture and environs in which we find ourselves.

MPs = take the blame and flack

CS, uCS, CuS or even uCuS = take the money

But don't take my word for it. Try to do the same with any well, you know CS ... uCuS and one is a rebel cast with bringing down Brit way of life?

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WTF?

It's almost impossible to sack a civil servant

Back in the day I was a military officer with a bunch of civil servants working for me. One of my staff was caught red handed with his fingers in the till. The cops charged him, took him to court, and he was convicted. In a private sector job a gross breach of trust such as this would be classed as gross misconduct and the chap in question would have his P45 straight away without notice. In the civil service it took us a year of concerted effort through the admin department to fire him, and during that time he was suspended on full pay. We also knew that whilst suspended he was working in another job (against the rules of suspension) - but again the admin staff wouldn't speed up the process to fire him. A year or 2 later another of my staff met him in a pub and he said, "Getting caught stealing was the best thing that ever happened to me." His 2 jobs got him out of debt, and the parole officer got him some computer courses to help rehabilitate him (from his community service).

Yet sending an e-mail to a thief calling her a thief is considered an instantly sackable offence.

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@John Dee

"The Times, The Financial Times, The Mail, The Express, The Sun ... perhaps you'ld like to explain how these papers are in any way leftist. The Sun supports New Labour you say? Yes, and they're both slightly right of centre."

There's your problem. For those completely wedded to leftist views, the middle of the road appears to be way over by the curb. New Labour is as socialist as old Labour, they just aren't open about it. A decade of smiley Blair distracting the voters while Brown raises taxes by stealth has not made Labour centrist. Now that the smile has gone, it is easier to see where they are coming from, but they were never "New" in anything but presentation.

Similarly, many papers and other news outlets tend to regard themselves as balanced because their journalists are predominately leftist and see, as you do, the middle of the road as well over to the left. This is one reason why mainstream media news is losing readers/viewers, especially in the USA, but also here. The general population, not the media's liberal elite, define the middle of the road.

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FAIL

@Apocalypse Later

"There's your problem. For those completely wedded to leftist views, the middle of the road appears to be way over by the curb."

Ever so-slightly right of center is still right of centre and still right-wing. Tory wets, for example, are centrist _and_ rightist. Your problem is not really understanding the English language.

"New Labour is as socialist as old Labour, they just aren't open about it. "

No. No it isn't. It has retained some leftist policies and introduced some rightist policies. Perhaps, to pick one example, you think introducing private finance into state run industries is leftist.

You see, it isn't "as socialist as old Labour". It is less socialist.

"Similarly, many papers and other news outlets tend to regard themselves as balanced because their journalists are predominately leftist and see, as you do, the middle of the road as well over to the left."

Ah, so its the rank-and-file journalists - and not the managers, editors, executives, directors, trustees or shareholders - who decide policy is it?

Tard.

"This is one reason why mainstream media news is losing readers/viewers"

It's the internet, stupid. News and tits are now free.

http://www.editorsweblog.org/multimedia/2009/02/integrated_working_pays_dividends_for_gu.php

"especially in the USA, but also here. The general population, not the media's liberal elite, define the middle of the road."

Again. You don't know what the word liberal means, so don't use it.

Now, if the Telegraph is the only right-wing newspaper and all the other are left-wing, roughly 800,000 people in this country buy a right-wing rag, and millions upon millions buy left-wing rags.

So the general populace itself is left-wing and the middle of the road is way off to the left?

(Pe)Tard.

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Stop

Code of conduct

There is a lot of banging on from us non-lawyer types about how she broke the rules of her contract. The contract itself might break her European Rights. Her employer may well have broken the disciplanry laws.

I'm not denying it was a bit stupid to send the email from a works address but a lack of information surrounding the whole affair means we should not be so quick to agree the woman should have been sacked.

Additionally was it REALLY a political statement? Who gets to decide this? Politicians are not above the law as they have recently found out. I'll be interested to see what the real outcome of this is.

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