January 31, 2007

A real story - The real story

Nature of complaint
  1. Details not recorded
  2. Details not recorded
  3. XXX
  4. Terms & conditions
  5. Terms & conditions
  6. Terms & conditions
  7. Working relationships
  8. Working relationships
Length of Service - completed years
  1. Over 25 years
  2. 1-5 years
  3. 6-10 years
  4. 6-10 yeas
  5. Over 25 years
  6. Over 25 years
  7. Less than 1 year
  8. Less than 1 year
Ethnic Origin
  1. White - British
  2. Other White Background
  3. Black or Black British - Caribbean
  4. White - British
  5. White - British
  6. Not Known
  7. Black or Black British - Caribbean
  8. Other Ethnic Background
Stage at which complaint was completed
  1. Grievance investigation
  2. Informal Grievance
  3. Formal Grievance - Stage 2
  4. Formal Grievance - Stage 1
  5. Formal Grievance - Stage 1
  6. Formal Grievance - Stage 1
  7. Formal Grievance - Stage 1
  8. Informal Grievance
Outcome of complaint
  1. Ongoing
  2. No formal action
  3. Complaint not upheld
  4. Complaint withdrawn
  5. Complaint upheld
  6. Complaint upheld
  7. Complaint not upheld
  8. Complaint not upheld
Did complainant remain in College for 6 months following outcome?
  1. N/a
  2. Yes
  3. No
  4. No
  5. Yes
  6. Yes
  7. No
  8. Yes

At last an acknowledgement from one of the candidates for General Secretary of UCU - Roger Kline mentions the 'B' word

Saturday 27th January 2007

Question: Big Brother, bullying and post 16 education

“Bullying appears to be an acceptable form of management in our college. What would you do about it if you became general secretary?”

Lynne, Manchester FE lecturer
Answer by
Roger Kline:

The Health and Safety Executive estimates that bullying costs UK employers 80 million lost working days and £2 billions in lost revenue

Bullying is widespread in post 16 education. Numerous surveys including the most recent UCU stress at work survey (Link to press release) have demonstrated how widespread it is. Bullying is incompatible with a collegial management or a learning environment.

Some managers seem to think that Rambo style management is effective. The growing climate of fear amongst senior management, especially in further education, makes it likely that such practices will increase unless challenged.
[So will they be challenged?]

As head of equality and employment rights I have ensured we have developed a range of work around bullying.

Firstly, your employer should have a Bullying and Harassment Policy or Dignity at Work Policy. UCU’s web site at
www.natfhe.org.uk/?entityType=Document&id=150 has a model policy. We want every employer to agree such a policy with UCU. [Agreeing is one thing, implementing and monitoring is another.]

Secondly, a bullying culture is a breach of the Health and Safety Executive Management Standards for Stress (
www.hse.gov.uk). A survey – jointly with management if possible - using the HSE model survey will confirm the scale of bullying and which departments are especially bad. [Good idea, do we have any volunteers?]

Thirdly when individuals feel they are being bullied they must start to record what is happening and alert their local representative. It is very unlikely that such individuals are the only ones being bullied.
[True, but what happens after one alerts the local rep can be an issue.]

Finally, bullying often has discriminatory overtones linked to gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and so on. Whilst it remains very difficult to pursue bullying cases through the courts, the link with discrimination may make it easier to force your employer to act in case legal action is taken. However it is much, much better to take these issues up collectively if possible rather than assume there is easy legal redress.
[So what happens to individual cases?]

An excellent guide to tackling bullying at work, co-sponsored by UCU has just been published by the Equality challenge Unit, on whose board I sit. It can be downloaded at
www.ecu.ac.uk. [Thank you for the guide.]
From: http://roger4gs.blogspot.com/

Did he answer the question?

The other candidate for the position of General Secretary (Sally Hunt) has not mentioned the 'B' word yet.

January 29, 2007

What Makes Narcissists Tick - "All con artists are thus protected by the pride of those they con..."

...Many, if not most, narcissists get away with bullying, slander, calumny, and abuse (even as prosecutable offenses) their whole lives. How? It's easy:

• make the abuse so outrageous people cannot see why anybody would do such a thing

• destroy the victim's credibility in advance.

No one does the things a narcissist does without thinking about the possible consequences. So, they are going to think up ways to avoid those consequences, too.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that if you want to get away with abusing someone, you first launch a pre-emptive attack on their character, so that nobody will believe them when they soon complain about what you are doing to them…

Everybody knows that when somebody defends himself from accusations with accusations, the crowd always believes the one who accused first and views the defendant as the attacker. This is irrational, because the initial accuser is the attacker and there is no more reason to believe one party than the other.

So, people don't do this in good faith. Indeed, the more preposterous the initial accuser's accusations, the more firmly people believe them! They do this out of self interest, because the return allegations make them look bad for eagerly swallowing the first accuser's preposterous and juicy lies whole.
All con artists are thus protected by the pride of those they con.

The narcissist commits moral mayhem by destroying the victim's reputation and credibility, so that nobody will believe her about him. His description of her is projection, a perfect description of himself... Nobody will even listen to her. Thus, the narcissist reduces her to a hapless and helpless state.

Narcissistic bullies in the workplace, especially as administrators in nonprofit institutions, are notorious for doing this. Their total destruction of the victim's life is so willful and wanton that it can sometimes only be viewed as a deliberate attempt to drive him or her to suicide. And all too often it does…

Attention is a value judgment. We pay it only to things we deem worthy of it. So, by treating others as unworthy of any regard, Narcissus is acting as though they are beneath notice, insignificant and infinitely less important than all-important him. He pays no more regard to them in what he does than you pay to bug you step on while crossing the street. They are nothing; he is everything.

This is how he compensates for that demeaning value judgment his narcissistic parent imprinted on his soul. This is how he edits the shameful image of himself he saw reflected in that parent's contemptuous eye. In other words, he does to others what that parent did to him. Since that's what made that parent a god, that's what makes him a god.

How does he enact this fiction? By treating you like dirt. And by maligning you behind your back. You could define a narcissist as someone who likes to treat others like dirt and ruin their reputations.

This is the game a narcissist plays, in a nutshell. Because he is an emotional imbecile (i.e., mentally of pre-school-age maturity).

The only people he doesn't abuse this way are those he doesn't dare abuse. Or those he can aggrandize himself by association with. Or those he can con and is setting up for a con job. Like psychopaths, narcissists view others as but objects, material to exploit for their own aggrandizement…

Narcissists are predators, but many people fail appreciate the meaning of that term, letting it in one ear and out the other...

Being predators puts narcissists in a special class with psychopaths, that class of people who don't wish you well, no matter how friendly their facade — that class from which sexual predators and all other kinds of predators come…

They're regulating, manipulating your reactions. But you aren't like them. Your reactions come from within. So, what are they ultimately regulating and manipulating? Your thoughts. Manipulation is mind control.

Manipulation is a subtle thing. So subtle that we are usually unaware of being manipulated, unless the manipulator blows it and breaks the spell. So, manipulators are putting thoughts into our heads that we think are ours. A very dangerous thing.

Since a narcissist isn't acting on normal human premises, since all he is doing is playing you for the reaction he wants, truth is irrelevant. Truth or lies — it's all the same to him. Whichever works. Usually that's lies.

It would be more correct to say that there is no such thing as truth to a narcissist. Because there is no such thing as truth when playing Pretend. That's why narcissists and psychopaths beat lie detector tests...

Psychopaths are known to get so good at manipulating people that, by the time they're teenagers, they routinely fool and manipulate mental healthcare professionals, judges, prison officials, parole boards, and social workers who know they are psychopaths, are on the lookout for attempts to manipulate them, and should be immune to manipulation.

It isn't a matter of intelligence: it's a matter of practice, experience. This is because most of what transpires in interaction happens too quickly to think it through…

Don't trust an institution or organization to filter out the personality disordered on the road to the top. Indeed, narcissists have great climbing skills!

Narcissists are expert at tearing down whoever is above them on the ladder of success. That's what narcissists do, nonstop, all their lives, because that's what narcissism is. They get very good at it, because it's an aspect of the disease, an aspect that is more a benefit than a curse in society. In fact, they get so good at climbing over those they throw down that they come out smelling like a rose, because nobody even knows who instigated the talk that destroyed that person…

What's more, narcissists have no compunctions about exploiting and tearing down their betters, because they have no empathy, no conscience. Another big advantage over normal people.

Nor do they have any compunctions about "getting tough" with their subordinates and firing people. They love doing that, because that's what narcissists do — vaunt themselves on others by bullying whomever they can. It's an aspect of the disease. And it's an asset, because it makes them look like good "tough" managers of personnel.

Narcissists are shameless but subtle self-promoters, expert at carving out the perfect (false) image for themselves. Yet another big advantage.

In fact, being for looks only, they see no reason to work for credit or credentials, so they just fake it whenever possible. They may cheat their way through college or buy a degree from a diploma mill or fake their credentials altogether. On the job they steal the credit that belongs to others…

I should think that a narcissist would not be at home in a smart and sophisticated big business with competent personnel managers, one that measures job performance accurately by objective metrics. Most of the narcissists I have known were in the "helping professions," particularly education. Little real accountability and abundant means to fake it.

Among those who were teachers that I have known or heard about, I noticed a peculiar similarity. They avoided accepting any position that would set them up as the responsible party and a target for criticism. For example, they would come up with excuses for why they could not fill a vacant head-coaching position. They preferred to call the shots from behind the scenes as a "humble" assistant coach, who manipulated the head coach.

…This is why narcissistic bullies in the workplace are a particular problem in private nonprofit institutions.

…In fact, the "helping professions" in general attract more than their share of narcissists: little real accountability and plenty of ways to fake it. All you have to do is fool people: you never have to prove that you are doing a good job.

…No one wants others to see them as bad. Moreover, that's the kiss of death to a predator, because it's like a repellant that warns potential prey to mistrust and stay away from him. Indeed, if you were a malignant narcissist, what would be your biggest fear?

Exposure, right? You're like a vampire to whom the light of day is lethal. Your greatest fear would be the same as that of any hungry, stalking predator — exposure.

You'd live in constant fear of people finding out that you're a wolf beneath your sheep's clothing, that you just use people, that you want to take away anything they have that you don't have, and that you will vandalize their image to improve your own. You'd live in constant fear of them learning the shocking truth about your past exploits, about the many you've used and trashed in your wake. You'd live in constant fear of people discovering, not just what you do for a moral living, but whom you do it to.

Since narcissists are such expert con artists, how do you spot them? …Here are eight red flags:

• puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness
• damages the images of most others
• has a history of past upheavals
• hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them
• exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior — backwards reactions to things
• is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries
• is extremely self-absorbed
• has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others

…If you know a narcissist's history, you will usually see a track record of mysterious upheavals in his life. He suddenly up and moves to a different school or job in a different town every few years.
That is, every time the good angels in his Pathological Space start comparing notes, get his number, and become enraged.
From: What Makes Narcissists Tick - Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Data Protection Act 1998 - Use it or loose it

We received the following email:

Dear PJP,

you should note for your own reference and others (that is if you do not already know this) that using the DPA
[Data Protection Act] will also give the University the ability to withhold information, e.g. investigation reports where third parties have refused to permission for disclosure or have asked for confidentiality. They will seize upon any exemptions that they can apply.

It is likely that in these cases the information comissioner will hold the University to be in breach of the Data Protection Act, but penalities for this are not always severe, thus since it takes months to resolve complaints with the information comissioner, and the University of course know this, then it serves their interests at the time to deny disclosure.

It is better to go for the information that you think will be withheld, informally, before making a Subject Access Request - I would also get a solicitor to handle a DPA request in future, as there can be a lot of things to challenge when you receive the return of a Subject Access Request.

In summary, using the DPA is a powerful and cheap right - it is very effective.



January 27, 2007

Employers would more readily admit to rape...

Stuart has left a new comment:

Perhaps the biggest problem of the anti-bullying policy is what to do when a complaint is upheld - have you ever heard of a complaint being upheld? My barrister said most employers would more readily admit to rape. So the policy is a political document that nobody dare implement because they cannot conceive of a fitting punishment. But really it is an immature behaviour that is easily challenged - take the bullies aside, tell them to stop and if they don't comply then strip them of title, authority and responsibility. Prevention is the aim, not punishment - motive is harmless without opportunity. They probably did their old job better anyway, and were promoted to Bully.

High stress levels in colleges and universities 'caused by management culture' - UK

High levels of stress are widespread amongst staff throughout further and higher education and staff widely believe that management - far from addressing the issue - are contributing to the problem.

The problem is revealed in results of a survey conducted on behalf of
UCU and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). Around 5,000 staff in FE and HE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland received a questionnaire on workload and stress during September 2006. More than a thousand responses were received, providing the unions with a representative snapshot of current workplace pressures and recent trends.

The main sources of work related stress were heavily linked to demands for hitting targets and deadlines, long working hours, increased workloads and frequent changes of timetables or courses. Not being able to exert control over demands made - and being given responsibility without the authority to take decisions - also scored highly, as did feeling undervalued and lack of administrative support.

A massive 82% of respondents reported that their overall workloads had increased in the last three years. The same proportion felt that this had directly or indirectly increased stress levels.

Respondents were asked which factors had contributed to the increase in workload. (They could tick more than one box). Overall 88% indicated 'more administration' (83% in HE, 92% in FE) and 46% said 'having more students per lecturer' (in both HE and FE) were the key causes of increased work.

Long hours are common in both further and higher education. Of all respondents, 41% work an average of 46 hours or more per week during term time, with 19% working 51 or more hours. 23.5% of staff in colleges work 46-50 hours (22.1% in universities). 12.5% of college staff work 50+ hours a week, while this is normal for 24.4% of university staff.

An astonishing 82% said their institution had a management culture which 'actively contributed to stress' ( 87% in colleges, 80% in universities). 27% thought their management 'acknowledged the causes of stress' but only 15% thought their management 'sought to address the causes'. Managers in HE appear to be making a slightly better effort to tackle the problem (17.7% of universities, 11.6% of colleges).

Many respondents recorded pronounced symptoms of stress. The symptoms reported as most frequently occurring were poor sleep patterns (46%), exhaustion (39%) and anxiety (35%). However high percentages of HE and FE staff said they also sometimes experienced many other stress symptoms: 58% reported an inability to concentrate, 56% reported headaches and migraines and 54% reported erratic moods.

15% of respondents had taken leave due to work related stress, a third of these for over 2 weeks and in 39% of cases the respondents' GP said their illness was work-related.

High numbers of staff considered their stress was partly due to their powerlessness to control their work: 71% said they found it stressful or very stressful that they are given responsibility without the authority to take decisions, 69% cited their lack of participation in decision making.

Not surprisingly, 78% of respondents said that morale had worsened over the last 3 years. Despite this 32% said they would recommend their job as a career, but 45% said they would not. Asked where they might be in 5 years time, 25.4% of university staff expected promotion compared to only 17% in colleges. 32% of university staff expected to be retired. This was 38% in colleges - further evidence of an ageing workforce which may soon create staff shortages.

UCU head of equality and employment rights
Roger Kline said: 'Across the whole of post-16 education stress is now at epidemic levels. We have warned for a long time that something has to be done but this survey suggests things have deteriorated still further.

'Tackling the causes of stress - excessive workloads, a long hours culture, a lack of influence over their work, job insecurity, a bullying culture and burgeoning administration - is now the top priority for our union. It is bad for staff and damaging to students, learning and research.

We are now actively seeking legal test cases on excessive hours and against employer's breaching their duty of care to staff, to back up our local campaigns. As student staff ratios rise and bureaucracy rockets, it appears that only collective action and legal threats will serve as a wake up call.'

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: 'We are surprised, but still horrified by the story this survey shows. Staff working in FE and HE should not be suffering harassment - 61% - or being bullied - 58% - at all, let alone in these large numbers. We are deeply concerned that so many of them feel undervalued - 72%. Staff can't work effectively in colleges which treat them badly - not only do the staff suffer but their students also suffer as a result and it's not good for the colleges in the long-run either.

'We can't allow these appalling conditions to continue unchallenged - it really is not good enough in the 21st century.
ATL urges members to report any instances of poor behaviour so they can be contested for the good of everyone working and studying in FE and HE.'

Help and advice about dealing with stress: The College and University Support Network (CUSN) is a support network which provides support by qualified professionals for FE/HE staff and their families. It includes a 24 hour helpline 08000 32 99 52

Press officer, Trevor Phillips
press@ucu.org.uk | Tel: 020 7520 1032 or 07773 796 882 (mob)
From: University and College Union

January 25, 2007

[Academic] Staff report regular bullying - Sheffield Hallam, UK

Phil Baty, Times Higher Education. Published: 22 December 2006

Leaked survey at Sheffield Hallam reveals 'disturbing' fears of victimisation, high stress and sub-par performance in many areas of work that require 'urgent action'.

Phil Baty reports
Almost 100 members of staff at Sheffield Hallam University have reported being bullied "always, often or sometimes" in an internal survey leaked to The Times Higher.

The report also highlights serious concerns about staff stress levels, noting that "urgent action" is required by the university in ten areas of work relating to staff stress and that "clear improvement" is needed in 22 other areas. In no category was Sheffield Hallam rated as doing "very well", based on scales devised by the Government's Health and Safety Executive and benchmarked against other universities.

The survey follows a similar internal report, which was leaked to The Times Higher in the summer, in which staff rated the quality of the university management as "very unsatisfactory" in "many aspects". This report warned that staff had lost a sense of collegiality.

The University and College Union said the latest findings were "disturbing", but it pointed out that such problems were common throughout the sector. It praised Sheffield Hallam for seeking to understand the issues.
Diana Green, vice-chancellor of Sheffield Hallam, said this week that the fact that Sheffield Hallam had produced the report showed how seriously it took the issue of staff welfare. She confirmed that plans to improve the situation had already been put in place.

The Stress Survey 2006 was carried out this year by the university's Centre for Research and Evaluation for Sheffield Hallam's internal health and safety service. It received 844 responses.

In the survey, the university performed below national comparators in six of seven general work areas. The areas in which it was judged deficient were "demands, managers' support, peer support, relationships, role and change".

Staff reported greatest concern about their "role", which indicates that "urgent action" is needed to improve the situation, the report states. With regard to role, staff reported very negative responses to the statements: "I am clear what my duties and responsibilities are, I am clear about the goals and objectives of my department, and I understand how my work fits into the overall aim of the organisation."

The report finds cause for alarm in response to the statement: "I am subject to bullying at work." Some 96 of the 844 staff report that they have been bullied "always, often or sometimes" - just over 11 per cent of respondents. Sixteen staff report that they are "always" bullied.

Professor Green said: "The survey allows us to take action to alleviate stress where there are concerns and the board of governors and I are publicly committed to improving the university's performance in this area."

She pointed out that there were 5,111 staff at the university and that 17 per cent had responded to the survey.
This meant that the 96 staff who reported being bullied "represent about 2 per cent of overall staff numbers".

Roger Kline, head of equality and employment at UCU, said: "This report makes disturbing reading - it shows the pressures that university staff are under and the levels of stress.

"This is not unique to Sheffield Hallam. I am quite certain that were surveys to be done in most institutions they would show similar or even worse responses."

He said that there had been a "good institutional response" from Sheffield Hallam and called on other institutions to conduct similar surveys.
Something about early intervention... something about the lack of accountability, no monitoring and no policing for 'independent' organisations... something about union (in)action that can contribute more...

Yes, what a lovely idea 'were surveys to be done in most institutions they would show similar or even worse responses'. Can we have some individual surveys please? We need some data and statistics to compare individual performances and ratings...

January 24, 2007

The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown

Up until today the 10 year abuse of this clinical psychologist has been shrouded in secrecy. The evolving story is likely to have many implications. It has to do with the use of mental health diagnosis to suppress dissent. It also raises the problem of academic freedom issues that arise outside of universities.

This blog is about the distortion of scientific debate, most particularly by
powerful forces in medicine. It is about the way in which industry, professional bodies, government regulators and powerful individuals collude to prevent scientific debate and to victimize those asking difficult questions (www.nhsexposed.com). It is about the way those entrusted with authority behave.

I have been contacted by many individuals who have found themselves in difficulty. Some of these stories are urgent enough for me to want take a break from my most interesting correspondence with Dr Larry Games Vice President at Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals.

One such case is that of the psychologist Lisa Blakemore Brown, a specialist in Autism, ADHD & Aspergers [website] [Book]. Blakemore Brown has been involved on the "wrong side" of the debate about the psychiatric disorder Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), maintaining that many parents have been falsely accused of injuring their children. There have been high-profile releases from jail of women such as Angela Canning.

MSbP is a disorder in which an adult invents or deliberately creates a child’s illness to draw attention to themselves. She has challenged prominent doctors such as Sir Roy Meadow and Professor David Southall who, in her view, have promulgated a wholly inappropriate approach to scientific evidence. She has irritated pharmaceutical companies. But instead of debate Lisa has encountered its very opposite. The abuse of science goes right into the heart of a prominent professional body. Her colleagues have stood by in silence.

I have no special knowledge of the science that underpins the debate surrounding autism, MSbP or vaccine side effects. But I do know that debate is important. It is the lifeblood of science. I will be discussing much more of this tragic case over the next few weeks. It is not only a tragedy for Blakemore Brown, but also part of the tragedy of medicine.

For now I simply place in the public domain a letter written this week by John Stone and myself to the British Psychological Society. It speaks for itself.
Ray Miller, President,
The British Psychological Society
St Andrews House
48 Princess Road East
Leicester LE1 7DR 14 January 2007

Re: Lisa Blakemore Brown

Dear Mr Miller,

We are writing to express our concern regarding the treatment of Lisa Blakemore-Brown (LBB) by the British Psychological Society. The actions of the Society are such as to cast serious doubts upon its motives as well as upon its plausibility as a professional regulatory body.

It is disturbing that the Society appears to be acting to suppress open debate about controversial theories. Our purpose here is not to get involved in this debate, nor do we necessarily agree with her views. Ms Blakemore-Brown's views are in fact irrelevant. She is entitled to hold any views and to express these, no matter how uncomfortable they are to yourselves. This is enshrined by Article 10 of the Human Rights Act 1998. It seems that the Society have developed an unhealthy obsession with preventing free speech through abuse of mental health diagnosis. Its actions may also be construed as a breach of the Harassment Act 1997.

It cannot be in the interests of society, human rights, patients and of the British Psychological Society to suppress open debate and academic freedom through such mechanisms. The society seems to have encouraged an endless series of unsupportable complaints against LBB, and then progressed them despite evidence that they were not sustainable. The society itself then generated an entirely different complaint (about her irritated response to these very complaints). This is not a proper example for resolving scientific or academic disputes. It appears to be more a method of silencing a critic.

Irritation with a professional body is not in any event an offence. Neither is annoying a professional body. Disagreement with the professional "view" is not a reason to refer an individual for psychiatric assessment except in a Stalinist state. This approach of the BPS is wholly anti-academic and unprofessional. To quote Kingsley Amis "If you can't annoy someone, there's little point in writing". It is also not a prime facie offence to perceive oneself to have been bullied, as the BPS seem to be suggesting.

Having read the case transcripts, we must confess that we find them most extraordinary. The transcript of the first three days of the Fitness to Practice hearing July 2006 reads like an encyclopaedia of legal and psychological abuse. If LBB has responded with irritation, this would seem to be understandable.
  • Lisa had been coerced into "hearings" despite having left the society years before. The main charge was modified progressively until it bore no relation to the flawed original charge. The modified "charge" of supposed mental illness (so called "paranoia") was not revealed to Lisa for months after the process had been set in motion.

  • Evidence was assembled by the panel as if having been provided by Lisa herself, and presented to others in a jumbled order and without context to suggest mental incoherence in her correspondence with the BPS (a supposed offence).

  • In one instance it emerged that the material was forged. Despite that, the original complainants were not invited to be cross-examined, and no action was taken against them after the information was dropped.

  • An independent psychiatric report declaring LBB perfectly lucid, quite normal and fit to practice was rejected, and others were requested instead. This is a rather interesting approach for a "psychological society" towards the reliability of such reports. This interesting approach of the BPS appears to be on the basis of the findings of the reports themselves rather than upon the methodology used (since the panel seemed quite happy to consider an assessment based only on LBB's correspondence with the BPS complaining about her treatment, compiled without seeing "the patient" and without any relevance whatever to her clinical practice). More convincing evidence supporting justifiable paranoia and predetermination would be hard to find.

  • A psychiatrist declared Lisa to be unfit to practice with the diagnosis of "paranoia" without examining her, and on the basis of material constructively assembled by the committee. Having read the transcript relating to this material we find this "diagnosis" intriguing, and wonder whether a majority (or even any) other psychiatrists or members of the public would reach such a conclusion based on the same information if we were to provide it to them. In any event the material bears no apparent relation to her practice, only to her views about the suppression of scientific debate.
The society has acted callously over a sustained period seeking to undermine and silence Ms Blakemore Brown, despite her unfortunate family circumstances. It has used the practice of psychiatry and psychological assessment in a non-evidence-based way as a tool for destruction. It cannot improve the reputation of the society to be seen to act in such an arbitrary way using its own tools of trade.

The society must bring this charade to an end before any more damage is done, both to society itself and to the chances of proper public discourse in an atmosphere that is free from fear.

  1. We would appreciate the views of the society before taking this matter forward in terms of public discussion.
  2. We are unable to find any list of the psychological traits that would render an individual unfit to practice and would appreciate a copy of the same. If supposed "paranoia" or "irritation with the BPS" is on such a list, perhaps bullying should also be added.
  3. In addition we would also request that the society provide what scientific evidence it has in relation to the, indications for psychiatric assessment in such cases, as well as the reproducibility and plausibility of such reports.
  4. So bizarre are the case transcripts, we believe that open discussion is required. We intend to publish these in full, with appropriate commentary as part of a campaign to prevent such behaviour by professional regulatory bodies. If the society can see any reason such publication should not take place, we would appreciate it if you would let us know those reasons.
Yours sincerely,

Mr John Stone

Dr Aubrey Blumsohn
From: Scientific Misconduct Blog: The victimization of Lisa Blakemore Brown

Threat of legal action by Sussex University against student protestors

The management of the University of Sussex are threatening legal action against some 50 students out of 80 who took part in a peaceful sit-in at the library last November to call for better teaching provision.

The University obtained an injunction from Brighton County Court in advance of the occupation to try to prevent it. Over the vacation the management wrote to those suspected of taking part in the sit-in, suggesting that they intend to pursue action under civil law against them being in contempt of court and to recover legal and other costs incurred by the sit-in from them.

For press coverage see <

Can anyone direct me to a place where I can find arguments about the implications for academic freedom of this kind of legal action by a university, and information about whether it has been taken before in the UK. I know about the George Fox 6 case but I wonder if there are any others.


Andrew Chitty
University of Sussex
Solidarity with others who are fighting against management bullying.

January 23, 2007

Defending quality

Comment: Defending quality - Academics must guard against losing their voice

By Sally Hunt, Tuesday January 23, 2007, The Guardian

'...Defending quality means putting our arguments on workloads, pay and insecure employment in the wider professional context of the encroachment on academic freedom, diminishing control over curriculums, deskilling of academic-related jobs, threat of marketisation, and a growth of corporate, not collegiate governance...'
Nice words... and then Sally goes on to explain in detail everything except for the 'growth of not collegiate governance'. There are no specific references to workplace bullying in academia.

Some rough figures: It is estimated that 14-16% of the British workforce experiences workplace bullying. In a union with a membership of over 100.000, this translates to over 14.000 members...

None of the two candidates for General Secretary of the new University and College Union (UCU) - Roger Kline and Sally Hunt - have made any explicit references to workplace bullying in academia. The closest we have got to is 'growth of not collegiate governance' - it doesn't sound too bad.

It is bullying Mr Kline and Mrs Hunt, it is bullying...

Early Intervention? What Early Intervention?

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Literature on effective interventions to prevent a...":

The whole issue of intervention is so amazingly undeveloped - just today I saw a press release via CCN Matthews ("news distribution experts") saying "Amicus, with the support of the DTI, is running the world's biggest anti-bullying project - a new website for advice on how to deal with bullying in the workplace" co-sponsored by the DTI. Yet on searching for the new DignityAtWork website - omitted by the news experts - there is no mention of intervention!



Interventions I have seen mentioned by those affected by bullying include

1) (externally audited) statistical monitoring,

2) acceptance of a uniform definition of bullying,

3) exit interviews to determine why staff are leaving,

4) emotional intelligence screening,

5) support of the target in situ (i.e. any intervention must impact the bully, not the target),

6) state appointment of an external reviewer of bullying cases (or an approved mechanism for third-party review).

Thank you Anonymous :)

- Certainly the AMICUS definition of workplace bullying is a bit too narrow.

- From the Dignity at Work site:


To encourage employee representatives and employers to build cultures in which respect for individuals is regarded as an essential part of the conduct of all those who work in the organisation. The project will also increase awareness and knowledge of 'dignity at work' issues, and encourage the development of partnership working in the workplace through the promotion of joint working on dignity at work.

Their aim is to 'encourage', not impose, not monitor and not police, just encourage...

January 22, 2007

Literature on effective interventions to prevent and manage bullying at work

General comments on evaluation

It appears that there are few, if any, ‘formal’ evaluations of bullying intervention programmes. For example, the recent HSE Research Report 024 reviewing supporting knowledge for stress management standards (Rick et al, 2002) found no studies examining evidence on interventions to reduce the bullying/harassment stressor.

Informal discussions with delegates at the recent Economic and Social Research (ESRC) seminar confirmed that there is a lack of evaluated interventions. There are many reasons why evaluations are seldom carried out. For one thing, it is often problematic to ensure an appropriate level of scientific rigour in the workplace. However, researchers are starting to acknowledge that some scientific rigour will have to be sacrificed if any evaluation is to be carried out in ‘the real world’.

The measures used to indicate the success of an intervention were discussed at the ESRC seminar, and delegates noted that ‘higher order’ measures such as social competency and selfefficacy may be useful to evaluate success. Delegates noted that the use of diary studies and examining the content validity of an intervention by use of expert panel could be useful methods of evaluation.

General comments on interventions

One of the strongest messages that came out of the ESRC seminar was that the organisational or team context is crucial when designing a bullying intervention. It was also considered vital to motivate people to engage in the intervention – measures must have a positive outcome for employees. [How much money they will save and how more productive the workforce will be] For many, the main aim of an intervention is to ‘do things to create a positive psychosocial work environment’.

Problems with interventions

Some authors (e.g., Rayner, Cooper and Hoel, 2001) have noted that interventions aimed at increasing employee control over their work have been difficult to implement in reality. There may also be problems with initiatives aimed at management level as they might serve to reinforce management control (a potential antecedent of bullying). [One way or another, management does control the process - with or without early intervention]

Initiatives aimed at the selection arena (i.e., selecting out bullies) are also problematic as selection tools can be unreliable and bullies can find ways around them. [They may even claim discrimination...]

Do organisational interventions work?

There are few evaluations that have addressed the impact that an organisation’s bullying interventions/policies/actions have on the ‘targets’, bullies, or other workplace outcomes. This in an area that needs much more work. Some suggestions include auditing bullying policies, exploring what blocks senior managers from tackling bullying.

From: Health and Safety Laboratory,Bullying at work: a review of the literature, 2006. Project Leader: Johanna Beswick. Author(s): Johanna Beswick, Joanne Gore, David Palferman (HSE). Science Group: Human Factors
So much for early prevention...

However, they got it right with the suggestion to include (external, we hope) auditing of bullying policies - and this should include the keeping of records.

What blocks senior managers from tackling the bullying? They are the problem! 'Leadership' and 'emotional intelligence' workshops for this lot have little - or negative - measurable impact on positive change.

NSW Premier Iemma Control Bullying? What a Laugh - Australia

By Jolly Judge Judy Tuesday January 23, 2007 at 01:45 AM - reporter@wbde.org - Melbourne Indymedia

With hilarity we read that NSW Premier Morris Iemma may attempt to adentify and reduce workplace bullying. NSW is Iemma country - the bullies' paradise.

With hilarity the following article was circulated among some of the huge number of public servant whistleblowers who were bullied/victimised by the corrupt, vindictive Carr/Iemma government. Iemma's and Carr's boys lead the parade of bullies in NSW.

WhistleBlowers' Documents Exposed web site have hundreds of items showing the million$$$ of dollar$$$ they have misappropriated to serve their own benefit: silence whistleblowers.

See TAFE teacher Val Kerrison's case at http://www.wbde.org/documents/2006_Mar_03_IndyMedia_

[This case has been going on for ten years and involves a teacher at a further and higher education institution]

See how Ken Boston bullied and victimised the teachers reporting the pedophile Peter Boys at

...Now we see the pathetic little Telegraph report that the equally lazy/corrupt NSW Teachers' Federation opine that "...It is expected the Iemma Government will be asked to fund formal training "to recognise and reduce workplace bullying."


Iemma's punks could write the manual on how to bully the defenceless.

Carr [previous Premiere of NSW] already srote the instructions manual on how to send whistleblowers to the corrupt HealthQuest psychiatrists, and make them submit to this degregation, then dupe them out of their jobs with HealthQuest's fraudulent, fake retirement certificates http://www.wbde.org/documents/2001_LozaAffidavit.pdf

Carr's instructions on how to force unwanted public servants to submit to unwanted medical 'assessments' especially to persecute whistleblowers are now held by Iemm. This is Soviet-style psychiatry to punish, discredit, and ruin NSW whistleblowers http://www.wbde.org/references/PsychiatryPolitica

NSW government's bullying/victimisation/corruption extends across participating departments, watched by idle, useless 'watchdog' departments state wide http://www.wbde.org/documents/IF_2_OR_MORE_ARE_

The courts and ICAC (NSW corruption centre) show their colours towards the bullied/victimised whistleblowers.

All of this is a great expense to the public, both financially and morally by getting rid of the ethical public servants out of government departments.

Jo Hewitt
WhistleBlowers' Documents Exposed http://wbde.org


Quiz. Question 1 - Name an HEI (Higher Education Institution) where:
  • many staff have rock-bottom moral

  • staff often work in a culture of fear

  • some staff feel isolated and unfairly treated

  • anger exists between different groups and individuals

  • where there is fear of victimisation

  • leadership and management style is at the heart of much of the unhappiness

  • where an "inner circle" takes over - who are happy in their work and a majority who feel bullied, isolated and discriminated against

  • staff recruitment processes are between "reasonably sound" and "flawed"

  • there is concern about fairness and transparency of the promotions process

  • where performance management are "punitive", and nearly all staff consider communications to be poor
Who is it?
If all bullet points do not apply to your answer, then the winner will be the one with the highest number of bullet points from the above list. ; )

Independent intervention

"It is far more productive to intervene before disciplinary decisions are imposed. For an independent body, external body to assess if the university (employer) has indeed followed the right procedures before reaching a decision. This needs to happen before a decision is imposed and not after."

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon : )

'Punishing' style puts staff on critical list

Phil Baty, THES. Published: 19 January 2007 - Whistleblower investigates

Academics at Birmingham's School of Health Sciences feel 'failed' by senior management who, a leaked report shows, were slow to address 'rock-bottom morale' and a 'culture of fear'. Phil Baty dissects the bones of contention.

"I have the sense of a school that is divided, where many staff feel isolated and unfairly treated... "Everyone is aware of the tension, pressure, even anger that exists between different groups and individuals".

This is the conclusion of a report on Birmingham University's School of Health Sciences that is so sensitive that the university refused to even confirm its existence when The Times Higher asked to see it under the Freedom of Information Act.

The report, which was leaked to The Times Higher this week, paints a damning picture of a school at war. It raises serious questions about the state of personnel management at the university and the future of the school.

Stuart Hunt, a human resources consultant, produced the report, which was handed to staff in the school in August 2006. It reports the results of a consultation exercise that involved 22 staff in "focus groups" and one-to-one interviews at the school and "several" further direct contributions to Mr Hunt.

The local branch of the University and College Union had suggested that disgruntled staff boycotted the consultation for fear of victimisation, but the paper, however, concludes that an "excellent level of engagement... should mean that the findings... are valid".

The report identifies a number of "key issues". "Leadership and management style is at the heart of much of the unhappiness that was expressed by the majority of respondents," it says.

A clear split emerges between a minority of staff - described as an "inner circle" - who are happy in their work and a majority who feel bullied, isolated and discriminated against.

The report says that although some staff felt recruitment processes to be "reasonably sound", many others found them to be "flawed". Staff expressed "deep concern about the fairness and transparency" of the promotions process.

They also said favouritism was shown in the allocation of tasks, the granting of permission to attend conferences and the handling of promotion opportunities.

The management was said to be supportive by some staff, but many more felt that the systems and the management style were "much too controlling, even punishing". The report says: "Although several staff explicitly said they had not experienced or witnessed bullying, many more comments contradicted this."

Some staff said feedback and performance management were "punitive", and nearly all considered communications to be poor.

The school, founded in 1995, combines nursing and physiotherapy. For most all of its time, it has been headed by Pat Wrightson, a professor of physiotherapy. It has 63 academic staff and 22 academic-related and support staff who are responsible for more than 500 undergraduate students, 87 taught postgraduates and 15 postgraduate research students.

Nursing received a 3b rating in the 2001 research assessment exercise. The Hunt report highlighted staff fears that the school's problems could further damage its profile and even threaten its survival in a university committed to top-rated research.

Staff blamed high workloads for cutting into research time. The report says some staff felt that teaching and administration was valued more highly than research.

"There is significant concern about personal job security and about the future of the school as a whole, especially in relation to the vice-chancellor's statements about (the need for) research excellence," Hunt says.

The report highlights major staff concerns about five general aspects of work - leadership, professional and career development, communications, management, recruitment and promotion. In each of these areas, between 75 per cent and 90 per cent of all comments made were "negative".

These areas, the report said, "should be seen as highly significant to address".

The university this week released a statement to The Times Higher in which it said that the consultation and meetings with staff have allowed the university to "develop additional responses to address staff concerns".

In particular, "leadership training" for staff at various levels has been implemented.

Staff in the school were due to meet Mr Hunt this week, as The Times Higher went to press, to agree "some key actions" to help develop "a framework for collegiate leadership" in the school, according to a leaked memo.

The Hunt report concludes: "Finally, nearly half of respondents made comments relating to the sense that the university centrally has not supported the school... effectively."

Certainly, the university had clear warnings of the emerging crisis. In October 2005 - almost a year before the Hunt report and as Professor Wrightson's second five-year term of office was coming towards an end - 17 members of academic staff wrote to the head of personnel, Jane Usherwood, raising concerns about how the school was being managed.

The letter, which was followed by a similar one in summer 2006 to the vice-chancellor, stated explicitly that it would not be "appropriate" to reappoint Professor Wrightson because of a number of "significant concerns about the current management style and the relationships within the school, which have led to inequitable workload distribution and inconsistent promotion decisions".

It reported that 12 staff had resigned in the previous three years - six of them "within the last few months" - and referred to "widespread concern that we may not be able to deliver existing courses, nor that we will be returnable in the next RAE". But as the Hunt report noted almost a year later, five staff asked: "What happened to the letter... there was no response, no feedback."

A major warning - described by one staff member as a "huge emergency siren" - came in the form of an October 2005 staff "stress survey" that highlighted the same issues as Hunt, but almost a year earlier. This survey, obtained by The Times Higher under the Freedom of Information Act, showed staff reporting
"a culture of fear" and "rock-bottom morale" in health sciences.

Some 47 staff in the school, including 41 academics, participated in the survey. They reported that promotion and job opportunities were "unfair", that the school suffered from a "blaming culture" and an "unrewarding social climate", and that they suffered "low autonomy, insufficient participation and a sense of lack of control". The report, by consultants Applied Research Limited, recommended an "urgent" investigation into allegations of bullying and favouritism and said that "organisational interventions... are urgently required".

But nine months after the survey was completed, the Birmingham UCU was bemoaning the lack of action. A submission from the Birmingham UCU to a July 10, 2006, meeting of the university stress review group said: "It is no exaggeration to say that UCU members in health sciences are at the end of their tethers. They are asking how much more time it takes for the university to act to address the problem."

In the same month, 15 school staff complained in a letter to the vice-chancellor of a "lack of strategic planning", a "climate of low morale" and "raised stress levels".

Michael Clarke, the vice-principal, replied 18 days later, on July 28, rejecting their request for a meeting but saying that the vice chancellor would "take into consideration" their views about leadership when deciding on the future headship of the school.

Just four days after that, Professor Clarke told the school: "Professor Wrightson has agreed to continue as head of the school. Both Pat and the vice chancellor recognise there are significant issues to be resolved... about the future direction of the school." This should be taken forward by staff "working constructively together". But Professor Wrightson's new term would run only until March 31, 2007, he said.

In a statement this week, the UCU branch said that it had been aware of "serious problems" in the school for several years.

It said: "Some of our members in the school have been off work with stress-related illnesses, and many of them have been afraid to raise their concerns with the university for fear of victimisation.

"Members have also expressed anxiety about their future careers because the perceived absence of a clear research strategy has apparently made the prospect of an RAE return in this round unlikely."

As one member of staff who did not want to be named said: "The university has failed us. They had the stress survey and did nothing for a year.
Then they sent in a consultant to find out what the problem was when they knew the problem all along.

"It is very sad. There is a lot of enthusiasm and ability and potential, but we've just been ground into the ground."


"You don't get promoted unless you are part of the 'favoured few' and your face fits." Eight people shared these sentiments.

"My sense is that everything is designed to support the 'inner circle'."

The report said that this term was "used by several people".

"Criteria for promotion are fixed so that only certain individuals can meet them". Five people expressed this view.

"Some people are allowed to go to international events and others are not - this is a favouritism issue." Four staff repeated such sentiments.

"We are desperate for help. We are vacillating between despair and anger."

"There has to be a change in leadership."

Source: the Hunt report


"Birmingham University, as a responsible employer, conducts periodic reviews of stress in its schools. As a result of findings of the 2005 stress survey in the School of Health Sciences, the university, in consultation with the school, commissioned a further review from an independent consultant.

"This was intended to provide a more detailed insight into issues raised in the original survey. The university considers the results of both to be confidential, other than to its senior management group and the appropriate staff in the school concerned.

"The findings of both reviews and meetings with staff have enabled the university to develop additional responses to address staff concerns. One such response is to implement a package of leadership training for differing levels throughout the school.

"The university has every confidence in Professor Pat Wrightson, the head of school, who was recently reappointed by council following the normal procedure of consultation with the school.

"The university will not comment further on specific personal cases."

Professor Wrightson declined to add any additional comments beyond the university's official response.

January 21, 2007

One more golden oldie... Dismissal as an academic boomerang

'...Attacks sometimes recoil against the attacker, a process that can be called the boomerang effect... Attacks can boomerang when they are perceived as unjust by participants and observers... The dismissal of an academic can be interpreted as an attack on the academic or on academic freedom, and thus can potentially boomerang...

For getting rid of an academic without repercussions, the cover-up is a powerful tool. If few people know about the reasons, the processes and the outcome, then the potential for generating outrage is minimal.

Many academics cooperate in a cover-up because they are ashamed by the criticisms of their performance and because they are not accustomed to seeking publicity. Indeed, most academics avoid public engagement, much less publicity, seeking recognition only among peers through scholarly publications and conferences.

This means that if discreet efforts are made to get rid of them, many are inclined to go quietly. For them, going public is not dignified. Scholarly self-image can get in the way of the quest for justice or even for survival.

In some cases when academics sue for wrongful dismissal, they reach a settlement with the university that includes a payment to them only upon acceptance of a silencing clause, namely a settlement condition that restricts future public comment about the case. Silencing clauses are potent means for cover-up

From: The Richardson dismissal as an academic boomerang

The role of HR and management - older post but worth reading again

'...Most of the available books are far better on giving personal advice to victims of bullying than on providing policy advice to managers who concerned about the impact of bullying on their organisation. This might be explained by the fact that there are far more actual and potential victims in the book market than concerned managers. But there is something deeper involved. Many managers are themselves bullies and many others are supportive or tolerant of peers or subordinates who are bullies...'

From: Insight and advice about workplace bullying
'...If situations of mobbing are diagnosed in a wider organisational context, it could be possible to take preventive measures through changes in work organisation. However, this could lead to a modification in the power relations in the company or institution and would involve making the management responsible for resolving the problem...'

From: Court rulings recognise bullying as 'occupational risk'
'...Lack of leadership in high-level positions leads to nonsense contentions on their part as to no responsibility extending to the target who is being mobbed, no duty of care owed to them, no right of the mobbed to natural justice or procedural fairness. Without the lack of leadership, mobbing could not occur or, if it did, could not prevail...'

From: Mediocrity and the 'No Change' Principle, a recipe for mobbing
'...Personnel management: When management eventually steps in, the case becomes officially "a case". Due to previous stigmatization, it is very easy to misjudge the situation and place the blame on the mobbed person. Management tends to accept and take over the prejudices produced during previous stages. This very often seems to bring about the desire to do something in order to "get rid of the problem", i. e. the mobbed person. This most often results in serious violations of the individual´s civil rights. In this phase, the mobbed person ultimately becomes marked/stigmatized. Because of fundamental attribution errors, colleges and management tend to create explanations based on personal characteristics rather than on environmental factors (Jones, 1984). This may be the case particularly when management is responsible for the psychosocial work environment and may refuse to accept this responsibility...'

From: Heinz Leymann - file 12220e
'...Eventually there is a defining moment when the target asserts their right not to be bullied, perhaps by filing a grievance. At this point, the bullying moves into phase two which is elimination. The human resources department and management are hoodwinked by the bully into seeing the target as an underperformer who needs to be got rid of... In this respect the employer becomes an unwitting victim too...'

From: The hidden cost of a bully on the balance sheet
'...Mobbing is difficult to respond to, legally, or by the usual institutional procedures, because there is typically no single, or identifiable, perpetrator as there is, say, in discrimination, sexual harassment, or workplace bullying. The victim is, typically, at bay: surrounded by an anonymous pack. Moreover, the litany of complaint ("he/she is not doing his/her job, as we are") is, ostensibly, respectable. The mobbee is not being picked on. Legitimate grievance is being aired - democratically...'

From: Mobbing, a term borrowed from ornithology...
'...Respondents saw university HR departments as protecting institutions and helping bullies rather than victims...'

From: Bullying rife across campus
'...Empower HR to handle bullying situations fairly and forthrightly. One of the most common remarks from targets of bullying is how "HR was useless" in handling their complaints about bullying and in some cases turned out to be complicit with the bullies. Effective preventive and responsive measures by HR are key components of any anti-bullying initiative...'

From: The business case against workplace bullying
  • Lesson learnt: HR always works for the employer even if they show sympathy with your situation.
Fight back against compromised HR:

If you have the evidence, you can report all HR mistakes, errors and inappropriate behaviour, to their professional association, the CIPD (The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development is the United Kingdom), and we strongly suggest you do so.

From the CIPD Code of Conduct for the members:

[4.2.1] required to exercise integrity, honesty, diligence and appropriate behaviour in all their business, professional and related personal activities.

[4.2.2] must act within the law and must not encourage, assist or act in collusion with employers, employees or others who may be engaged in unlawful conduct.

If you have evidence that your HR colluded to discriminate against you, victimise you, marginalise you, or collude with the employer, then you should report it to the CIPD. Why do they have a code of conduct for their members?

January 20, 2007

Stuart said... A commitment to monitoring... Ireland

Stuart said...

Pierre-Joseph wrote
"Employers should keep all statistics of workplace bullying and provide reports" - we had the suggestion from an expert review group that the Health & Safety Authority require all employers to record the number of bullying complaints, outcomes (upheld , dismissed, resolved without finding), proportion of staff on fixed-term contracts, sickness rates, stress-related leave, staff law suits, legal fees and settlements.

The new Guidelines were watered down to
"Monitoring : The policy should include a commitment to monitoring incidents of bullying at work so as to evaluate and improve upon the policy and procedures as necessary".

A commitment to monitoring...