BBC BLOGS - Nick Robinson's Newslog
« Previous | Main | Next »

No 10 questions helpline in Brown 'bullying' row

Nick Robinson | 21:35 UK time, Sunday, 21 February 2010

It was inevitable. The woman who told the BBC her National Bullying Helpline was called by three people who worked with the prime minister is now at the centre of a political storm.

Christine PrattFirst, some are asking why Christine Pratt risked compromising the confidentiality of her callers.

Second, Downing Street is pointing out that they were never contacted by the helpline despite the fact that the Civil Service has "a no tolerance policy on bullying" and has "rigorous, well established procedures in place to allow any member of staff address any concerns over inappropriate treatment or behaviour".

Thirdly, Ms Pratt's motives are being questioned.

Some have pointed out that the helpline website shows a supportive statement from David Cameron and that it lists Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe as a patron.

However, the BBC has so far found no evidence of any political involvement by Ms Pratt or her charity.

South Swindon Labour MP Anne Snelgrove was an active supporter of the helpline but fell out with Ms Pratt over the MP's concerns that the charity might be being used to promote a business that advises companies on staff relations.

Nevertheless, Peter Mandelson's Department for Business continues to recommend the helpline to businesses.

Christine Pratt contacted the BBC after seeing Lord Mandelson's interview this morning defending the prime minister's behaviour.

Colleagues checked the status of the charity and questioned Ms Pratt's claims. We can't, of course, verify the truth of her allegations - merely report them and Downing Street's response to them.

By the way, the Cabinet Office has now issued an updated response to Andrew Rawnsley's allegations stating that "It is completely untrue to say that the Cabinet Secretary ever gave the prime minister a verbal warning about his behaviour".

Comments

Page 1 of 4

  • Comment number 1.

    'Some are asking why . . . went public . . . and are questioning her motives'

    Maybe she just knew that Gordon Brown's denials were lies pure and simple and had the courage to tell the truth.

  • Comment number 2.

    Where did you get your new "questions" on this womans behaviour from nick? The comments on your previous article?

    You have cleared one thing up though, this woman was sitting at home watching TV then decided "Hey I know some info the BBC would love to have lets give them a call" Sounds highly realistic! Still doesn't anwser some very basic questions though, like how long ago these calls were made, how were they brought to her attention? As far as i'm aware the head of the IT helpdesk company I work for is never passed information on which celebs call requiring IT help, so why was this laday? And how long has she sat on it?

    This whole story is still just a load of hearsay of the sort that most tabliods would be sued for if it was about a "celeb" and not a politician.

    One final point
    "Some have pointed out that the helpline website shows a supportive statement from David Cameron and that it lists Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe as a patron.

    However, the BBC has so far found no evidence of any political involvement by Ms Pratt or her charity."

    So supporting DC is not polictiacl involvement? Really? Because I'd say it is. If its not then perhaps you should post on your Blog a statement in support of whichever party leader you think should be the next PM? No? Why not? Because it would violate BBC rules on neutrality, therefore the BBC rules say this help line is party political even if you don't!

  • Comment number 3.

    But Nick you didn't simply report the facts.

    "It is one thing to be accused of bullying by a journalist with a book to sell who has to rely on anonymous sources.

    It is another for someone who runs an anti-bullying helpline to allege that they have been called by staff working directly with the prime minister. "
    &
    "However, the attempt of his close political ally Peter Mandelson to justify this behaviour as that of someone who was - in his words - emotional, passionate and demanding, has backfired."

    That's from an earlier post of yours.

    What happened is you gave an opinion when you didn't fact or background check Christine Pratt's claims or background.

    The National Bullying Helpline seems a bit too close to the Tories and also has a large conflict of interest claim hanging over it. This claim is that Christine Pratt advised callers to that line to use services her private company provide and didn't make that clear to callers.

    Both of these simple facts took me about 5mins to find out online. I'm a normal individual at home. Not a senior BBC journalist with access to all kinds of resources or funds.

    Both of these facts would also dent Christine Pratt's credibility notwithstanding the professional breach of confidentiality that she now stands accused of.

    So why is almost every single journalist in such a rush to damage Gordon Brown?

    Why are the BBC - who I thought were given huge tax payer funds to avoid commercial driven news agendas - also getting caught up in this?

    Nick, please, less opinion, more professionalism.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is the charity that has the nice Ms Widdecombe as Patron? It seems like only yesterday that pregnant female prisoners were being chained to prison hospital beds during her tenure as Prison Minister.

    Not anywhere near as bullying as reputedly shouting at someone or allegedly flinging your mobile phone to the floor in a temper though. There is absolutely no sign whatsoever of a vested agenda here...

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is poor journalism by the BBC, for the sake of a sensationalist headline you failed to check the background of this lady and her organisation. I think you lot should contact BullyingUK and also read their statement for a fairer assessment.

  • Comment number 8.

    To quote verbatim from National Bullying Helpline's website:
    "Bloggers will, typically, convince themselves that they are a victim and that their blog is permissible under 'freedom of speech' and/or that they are some sort of champion of justice. These individuals, often, have no qualifications, a limited understanding of HR or employment law and they very quickly 'jump to conclusions' or make assumptions. They lack the knowledge and ability to deal with concerns in a professional manner. These people are, in no way, professional business men or women. A common occurrence with blogging is that authors of blogs will refuse to reveal their name and identity and/or write their blog under a pseudonym. "
    So who's bullying who?

  • Comment number 9.

    Or [1] she was politically motivated and has comrpomised her orgamisation's charitiable status by intervening in a political dispute. She 'claims' that people have contacted her helpline (no evidence), nothing has been raised by the charity with No 10 or the Cabinet Office, none of the staff involved have come forward. Remember also about this that the political correspondent of the Observer has done this book publishing trick just before an election, before. Remember his 'Servants of the People' just before the 2001 election where he 'exposed' the rows between Blair and Brown - all timed to do maximum political carnage and sell lots of books? This is dirty politics - unprovable allegations, nearly always later shown to be complete rubbish, but designed to sell books and create damage.

  • Comment number 10.

    "However, the BBC has so far found no evidence of any political involvement by Ms Pratt or her charity.

    South Swindon Labour MP Anne Snelgrove was an active supporter of the helpline but fell out with Ms Pratt over the MP's concerns that the charity might be being used to promote a business that advises companies on staff relations.

    Nevertheless, Peter Mandelson's Department for Business continues to recommend the helpline to businesses."

    End of story. Full stop. Nothing more to see here. Move along now.

  • Comment number 11.

    Perhaps some people do not like to see that Britain is heading out of recession. They try to stop PM doing his job.

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Unfortunately, whatever the truth behind the motives of this lady that has come forward, it was inevitable that she would soon be the target of a smear campaign...

    Labour have reverted to their tried and trusted methods of dealing with bad news.

  • Comment number 14.

    2. At 10:06pm on 21 Feb 2010, laughingdevil wrote:

    One final point
    "Some have pointed out that the helpline website shows a supportive statement from David Cameron and that it lists Conservative MP Anne Widdecombe as a patron.

    However, the BBC has so far found no evidence of any political involvement by Ms Pratt or her charity."

    So supporting DC is not polictiacl involvement? Really? Because I'd say it is..."

    How obtuse are you?

    Nick said: "...the helpline website shows a supportive statement from David Cameron"

    From David Cameron, FROM!!

    Not her supporting DC.

    Got it yet?

  • Comment number 15.

    I felt I had to email this helpline, 1) because it's irresponsible of them and 2) I wanted a bit of fun! :0P

    Hi,
    Firstly, I'm not a Labour supporter or indeed any other party, in my opinion they are all useless.

    Now I've got that out of the wayI was wondering what your policy is towards confidentiality and wondered if it was normal to announce to the general public details of people that have been accusd of bullying by people calling your helpline?

    It seems rather a strange thing to do and not the kind of thing a trustworthy and responsible organisation would do!

    It's really sad someone can point the finger at another person and accuse them of something and that then becomes 'the truth' without the other party being able to defend themselves and without a second thought that it is still 'innocent until proven guilty' in this country.

    Whoever decided to announce this kind of information isn't in my opinion the kind of person that should be responsible for any kind of helpline.

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 16.

    @2 laughingdevil - As Michael Winner might say "Calm down dear!"
    The helpline website has a supportive statement from DC, not a statement supportive of DC. And if you bother to read Nick's post, the service was supported by a Labour MP as well as a Conservative MP. Ann Widdecombe certainly wouldn't support something just because Central Office told her to. And the Department for Business recommends it.
    It's easy to see from his PMQs performances that Gordon Brown is a nasty piece of work who cannot bear to be contradicted. Get used to it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nothing in the Nick Robinson piece or the comments strongly suggest that the story is substantially untrue. Let's not forget the crushing comments from Mandy about GB not long back and the personality assassinations by the Blairite camp just before Gordon became Prime Minister. If half of what is claimed is true it is an appalling indictment of the Brown era. My reason for calling for him to go concerns his political character.

    Gordon Brown is an unqualified electoral and political liability. He is ideologically compromised, obsessed with security and social control, bored with civil liberties, terminally confused on climate change, endowed with ‘clunking’ political judgement, overawed by the City and has the media skills of a Dalek.

    He and Mr Cameron seem to be neck and neck in a race to the bottom!

  • Comment number 18.

    As a trustee of a number of charities that take user confidentiality very seriously, I could not believe that a spokewoman for the National Bullying Helpline compromised the privacy of three callers to their helpline. It is surely totally unacceptable - after all, their privacy policy states: "We do not share your details with anyone" - maybe they need to add "except the national media." to it.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Nick:

    What concerns me seriously and very much puts me on worry about that the releasing of information of whom has contacted the Helpline.....

    I hope that the Ms. Pratt's motives will be examined by her board of the Helpline; Not only because of Political rationale and the real reason of breaking regular standards of confidentiality.

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 21.

    As someone who has worked in HR for years and, before that spent a number of years as an employee representative, I find this whole episode very disheartening. I have no great liking for Gordon Brown but the intervention of Ms Pratt is in no way helpful. How, in good conscience, can I recommend this anti-bullying helpline when anybody now knows its confidentiality is compromised? Ms Pratt would be immediately suspended and, in all likelihood, dismissed if she had admitted (and thereby broke confidentiality rules) that, for example, employees of the BBC had contacted the charity about the Director General of the BBC. Does she have the explicit agreement of the people who contacted the helpline to announce the fact that they have. I wish people would stop playing politics with this kind of thing.

  • Comment number 22.

    The Dizzy Thinks blog has trawled Hansard and has found that Browns behaviour has been brought up in Parliament itself, with confirmation that up to five complaints have been made more than once regarding bullying in Browns departments...

  • Comment number 23.

    @3 stivbator wrote "The National Bullying Helpline seems a bit too close to the Tories "
    A brand new poster I see - working late at Transport House are we?
    You seem to be suggesting that the Tories set up a spurious bullying helpline just in case it ever had a chance to use it against Labour. Well, you'd have to admire, however grudgingly, such an extreme degree of deviousness wouldn't you?
    But, hang on, Peter Mandelson's Department recommends the helpline. Unlikely, if it was too close to the Tories.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is from this National Bullying Helpline... They can't even spell the word privacy..

    "PRIVICY POLICY

    We have a clear privacy policy. We do not share your details with anyone. In a situation where you may wish us to support you in bringing a complaint against your employer we would observe conflict of interest. Where we are asked to mediate we would seek consent from both the employee and the employer to ensure that this approach suited all the parties. Click here to see our Terms and Conditions."

  • Comment number 25.

    One has to start thinking there is going to be some truth in these allegations the way that this Blog has suddenly attracted so many new pseudonyms all decrying and/or denying the allegations against Bully Brown with such vehemence.

    Keeping digging Nick, you could be bringing forward the date of the General Election. Hopefully!

  • Comment number 26.

    How obtuse are you?

    Nick said: "...the helpline website shows a supportive statement from David Cameron"

    From David Cameron, FROM!!

    Not her supporting DC.

    Got it yet?

    ------------------

    Do you honestly think that politicans support organisations/people that give them nothing back?

    Were you born yesterday?

    Ann Widdicombe, who is possibly the MP who bullies reporters the most is a Patron, DC supports her work, do you not think DC suppored her actions today? He's probably sat at home thinking "Yes! my poll lead will be restored to it's former double figure lead"

    Politicians don't support people or help them for the fun of it, they do it for somthing, even if that is simply having contacts, but they always do it for somthing, ALL politicians, not just the Tories. I said in my comments on the previous article I am no GB fan but there are far to many coincidences and far too little actual evidence (ie none) for this to be anything other than a tory smear campaign, they must be loving the fact that many people are now blaming their massive mess up for not hiding links to this helpline on a labour smear operation. Not only have they launched a massive anti GB smear campaign, but they've convinced people that it's all labours fault!

  • Comment number 27.

    Latest: David Cameron scheduled to give speech tomorrow morning underscoring Gordon Brown's weak leadership: "I AM a bully. I DO punch people. But only within the agreed regulatory framework as set out in the consultation paper by the Marquis of Queensbury."

    George Osborne to hover in background sporting suspiciously fresh black eye.

  • Comment number 28.

    It's funny in a sad way, to see the Brown apologists defend him.

    A bit like the defence of the economic crisis. It didn't really happen. It was someone else's fault.

    I'm wondering which confession was less real. Tiger Woods or Gordon Brown. Both saying "I've got faults but I'm better now and in any case it's all the media's fault really"

  • Comment number 29.

    18 Griff Griffith

    In what way has the charity compromised the identity of the callers to its help line? So far as I can see no names have been given. The Charity just seems to have outed an employer that has a record of complaints against it. There has been no comment as to the details of the complaints or the results of any investigation into them.

  • Comment number 30.

    What qualifies as a 'verbal warning' in these circumstances?

    It's an easy denial to make, since the Cabinet Secretary is in no position to 'warn' the Prime Minister in any official capacity - he is, after all, not the PM's employer to the best of my knowledge, despite the Sir Humphries of this world most likely wishing otherwise, after all ministers from 'Prime' downwards don't actually work for the Civil Service.

    So clearly a 'verbal warning' in an official sense could not have taken place in any way recognised by the Civil Service but that doesn't mean that the Cabinet Secretary didn't raise the matter with the PM.

    Naturally I have no way of knowing, but in this case there seem to be too many reports of this nature, from all sorts of different sources, for them ALL to be spurious. We can all see with our own eyes what Gordon Brown is like when he's riled at PMQs for example: we can watch him quivering with rage, struggling to hold himself in check. We can listen to his anger throwing him completely off his track on subsequent questions.

    We need only look with our own eyes to determine how much credit we give Rawnsley's claims. It's not a hard decision to make.

    http://cogitodexter.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/taking-a-second-look-at-labour/

  • Comment number 31.

    Nick, you state that Ann Widdecombe is a Patron of he National Bullying Helpline. But so,too, is a Tory councillor. So that's two Tories out of 5 Patrons. The others are not politicians. And the Helpline's homepage has just two statements, both by Tories: not just the Cameron one you mention, but also one by Widdecombe.
    Also are you aware that the Helpline has been strongly criticised tonight by BullyingUK ? This is their statement:
    http://buk.cc/aqxXFF

  • Comment number 32.

    #16

    You think GB arguing with DC in PMQ's shows he's a bully? Have you ever seen Ann Widdecombe interviewed? She is one of the nastiest politicans in the business.

    Until these alledged "3 staff" go public with some actual evidence I will continue to look act the facts, of which there are none, you can continue believing romours from the gutter of journalism if you wish, as I also mentioned plenty of people think being shouted at is bullying, yet the BBC laud a busniess man who does just that.

    There are NO facts to back up these rumours, that this woman knew about these supposed confidential calls shows that somthing going on, do you think that the head of the samaritans would know if someone famous called feeling depressed? I doubt it, we don't know who made these calls, we don't know if they were even made, if they were we don't know what was the act that consititued bullying, all I am asking for is for some very basic information so I can make up my own mind, it seems you have allready made up yours that GB is a bully without any evidence. Perhaps if you were the subject of such headlines with the same "evidence" being presented" you'd be happy to walk into a police station and turn yourself in for assult?

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    I really don't know what to think about the BBC anymore. I used to be fully supportive of it, I believed it ran a fairly impartial news service and tried to rise above the gutter journalism that turns many people away from politics. However, this blog, the blog of Robert Peston, and a number of others show a clear lack of willingness to look for the truth behind a story. When 20 economists write in it's a clear sign that the govt has got it wrong, but when 60 then write in to oppose the original letter, economists are divided and useless, and it's not simply the case that the majority of economists support the govt's view against the view of the Conservatives.

    When people in the city are making concerned noises about the viability of govt borrowing and the chances of Britain retaining its AAA credit rating it seems that the BBC are all ears. But when someone deigns to point out that these same people gave unsecured american mortgage loans to people with no income triple A ratings only a couple of years ago, the BBC suddenly decides the issue is "unclear".

    When ever any bad news emerges about this Labour Govt, the BBC is all over it, prints it prime time number one headline and shouts it from the rooftop. When hours later they are forced to retract this statement because of basic reporting errors, a failure to check the impartiality of the source being a repeated and completely incomprehensible mistake, the BBC shows a retraction on the lower pages of the days news below the sports stories and "interest" items about programmes the BBC plans to air.

    The BBC is supposed to be supplying impartial analysis. This means trying to find out the facts and report them, and give an honest analysis. Instead we get the same cowardly standard of reporting that makes so many of us revile the rest of the press in this country whose interest in speculation has long ago claimed precedence over any attempt to portray reality.

    Get a grip BBC, get rid of these so-called stories, and talk about the real issues. Or you will lose the support of the people who really value the BBC. Appealing to the right-wing might buy you a stay of execution from Murdoch and Co. for a short period of time, but they'll still force you to make online content chargeable, and to reduce the licence fee, and to diversify in ever more demeaning ways until they turn you into a private cash cow for one of them to devour.

    I have always supported the BBC for its impartiality. Now I feel like it is selling out on us. I find that utterly appalling. I feel like going elsewhere to get my news, but there is nowhere else anymore. I cannot overstate how disappointed I am in this type of reporting from the BBC. Disgusting.

  • Comment number 35.

    We are now in middle of an epic spin operation. If Gordon Brown has done no wrong then he can sue Andrew Rawnsley for malicious libel.

    The fact is, he isn't issuing writs.

    This CEO hasn't breached confidentiality, she has acted as a whistleblower to confirm that there is a problem at No 10. At least the BBC has had the courage to report the story. Now it really needs to get digging. In No 10.

    With respect to the other posters on this blog, the behaviour of the PM is the question which needs to be answered. All others are irrelevant until the truth is established.

  • Comment number 36.

    26. At 10:47pm on 21 Feb 2010, laughingdevil

    I stand corrected.





    I should have said obtuse AND paranoid.

  • Comment number 37.

    Christine Pratt is either a liar so should resign or has betrayed the trust of victims of bullying so MUST resign.

  • Comment number 38.

    I have no link with anyone in the Government or the National Bullying Helpline. If I am ever subjected to bullying, I won't report it to the NBH because they appear to breach confidentiality. Hopefully, the trustees of that charity will talk to Mrs Pratt about that and issue a statement as to why it isn't really a breach of confidentiality or else issue an apology. I look forward to some enlightenment.
    As to what goes on at No.10, then I hope that the employees there feel confident that they can report bullying through proper channels and receive a fair and confidential hearing. If such reports exist and are proven, then the proof ought to be in employmet tribunals, police arrests, and other legal outcomes. Until then, I will reserve judgement.
    This story looks like a political smear meanwhile.

  • Comment number 39.

    Whilst I can undertand the concern at the statement from Christine Pratt, I find it amazing that people say 'we have excellent internal systems to deal with this' - really? Go and look at the history of 'Whistleblowers' , in fact ask Lord Kinnock about Whistleblowers and fiancial corruption when he was in charge at the EU. Ask the former head of risk at HBOS. All these equality, diversity, bullying rules are only for us plebs, when the powerful boys don't like them, they get sidestepped. Look at the lies and libels that have come out of No 10 over the years via emails. (in fact there seems to be a lot of 'Gordon ain't like that and it is a Tory plot' posts here - incredible really, if the Tories are that clever and can plan ahead to that extent, the quicker we let them loose on the economy the better! But they ain't.) As far as I'm concerned, this is a classic case of the 'biter bit', and it is poetic Justice that Mandelson is involved. Come to think of it, it was watching Mandelson that cause Ms Pratt to phone. That is a clear case of 'mitigating circumstances' if ever there was one, I feel like phoning the BBC every time he appears, never mind opens his mouth.

  • Comment number 40.

    To make the complaint public while retaining the anonymity of the complainant puts Brown in a lose- lose situation with no chance of defending himself.It is odd that the cabinet office was not approached with these allegations,if not what was the point?
    Unless the NBH comes forward with specifics,this is imputing guilt by smear,innuendo and association.

    Surely they must have thought out their tactics beforehand.Is there a stage two? Some paid disclosures in the "Mail" or "Telegraph" perhaps.

  • Comment number 41.

    No surprise that this has brought out those who support or oppose Brown. However this issue is the Charities judgment in making the statement and The BBC's reporting of the statement in what is a an unquestioning tone.

    If there have been complaints to the helpline, the charity have compromised the anonymity of those that contacted them. Not to the general public, but to an employer they have accused of bullying. Not a smart move.

    The BBC say they can find no political ties for the charity, yet they seem not to question the charities use of "Associates" that brings a commercial imperative to their work or the preponderance of Conservative politicians in it's structure.

    Does this mean that the BBC shouldn't report the story? No, but from the clips I've seen on the television and heard on the radio, they appear to have accepted the statement at face value and without qualification.

  • Comment number 42.

    38. At 11:10pm on 21 Feb 2010, DeadlyHotFeet wrote:

    "..If such reports exist and are proven, then the proof ought to be in employmet tribunals, police arrests, and other legal outcomes. Until then, I will reserve judgement.
    This story looks like a political smear meanwhile."

    ===

    Contradicted yourself there!

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    I really must be missing something here. It wouldn't be the first time I suppose.

    Where is the breach of trust/confidentiality? No names have been given. I haven't had the time or inclination to read or learn NBH processes but so far as i can see they do appoint a mediator in cases of reported bullying. In which case the employer, No 10, already knows that there has been a complaint and has probably already worked out who made it!

    There does seem to be an opportunity here for the complainant(s) to contact the press for an exclusive and receive a great wedge of cash. Although I suppose that they will be hit by the official secrets act.

  • Comment number 45.

    34. At 10:58pm on 21 Feb 2010, TheWalrusandtheNasriator

    Try the bbc world service. Much better, less tabloid.
    Democracy Now is another one I've picked up on (though American).

  • Comment number 46.

    Another biased blogpost by the shameless Robinson, jumping to defend Brown & Nu-Labour.

    Have you started dusting off your Conservative Party Membership Card yet, Robinson? Might have to switch sides (again) later this year if you still want to pocket the BBC salary.

  • Comment number 47.

    As a medical student and former healthcare professional, I find Ms Pratts comments to be completely unprofessional. Regardless of the validity of the claims the damage done to the principle of confidentiality is grossly undermined. From my past and present experience my career would be in serious jepoardy if I had carried out such an action. This is the usual dish of the day of English politics. No wonder we don't vote.

  • Comment number 48.

    Labour will stop at nothing to try and discredit Christine Pratt and her whole organisation now in an attempt to divert attention away from the issue - the behaviour of the Prime Minister. As for confidentiality no-one has been named and, in addition, we do not know whether anyone involved was consulted. There is also the issue of public interest which can be a defence against breach of confidentiality.

  • Comment number 49.

    You can follow my comments on the Guardian's website if you wish.

    Also for the record I am not a member of any political party and never have been.

    Unlike Nick Robinson who was a member of the Conservative Party.

  • Comment number 50.

    As to what goes on at No.10, then I hope that the employees there feel confident that they can report bullying through proper channels and receive a fair and confidential hearing....

    ==============
    Hope springs eternal!
    The triumph of Hope over Experience!!

    I could go on, but seriously, it is nice to know that there are still some innocent souls in this bankrupt mess of a country.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    What is it with all these claims of "loss of confidentiality"?

    The only fact disclosed is that the calls claiming bullying within No 10 came in .... if the three callers are ever identified then that would be a breach of confidentiality.

    In the meantime, the identity of the caller or callers is unknown and unless bodies turn up, battered and bruised from a beating by a bully wearing knuckledusters stencilled with No 10 in clear, bold lettering ..... no one's confidentiality has been breached!

    I suspect the denialists protesteth too much and are rushing to decry the credibility of the allegation of bullying by Bully Brown. However, their vehement denials simply add credence to the allegations having some substance and show that the Labour Party is being mobilised to fight the allegations to preserve hopes of winning some seats in the next Wesminster Parliament. They are clutching at straws most likely!

  • Comment number 53.

    In a nation that can be persuaded to think that a pair of talentless Irish twins with naff haircuts deserve their votes on a talent contest... anything is possible.

    We can have a psycho in No. 10 and an airbrushed PR man as heir apparent.
    Has all the makings of a David Lynch film.

  • Comment number 54.

    Another personal attack on Gordon Brown.

    Will the Tory manifesto be just one big attack on the personality of Brown. They don't appear to be offering anything else.

    Most people will see through this shallow plot. The libdems are starting to offer an alternative at last.

  • Comment number 55.

    Moderation taking too long - I'm bored and off to bed

  • Comment number 56.

    40. At 11:28pm on 21 Feb 2010, bryhers wrote:
    To make the complaint public while retaining the anonymity of the complainant puts Brown in a lose- lose situation...

    ===============

    Familiar territory for Brown, and the rest of us thanks to him.

  • Comment number 57.

    I find it almost beyond belief that the head of an anti-bullying helpline would reveal information on a "Reported employer" to the media, apart from anything else (like professional conduct) if it’s true then she may be putting those employees jobs at risk.

    Of course just because someone phoned up and said they work at No. 10 doesn't mean that it's true and it's impossible to verify one way or the other.

    The Tories have always had a very efficient smear machine. With labour narrowing their lead in the Polls, the smear machine may be going into overdrive and I am beginning to get the feeling that we may in the middle of a very British Coup.

    (& before I'm accused of bias I don‘t support Tory or Labour)

  • Comment number 58.

    The BBC has failed to check their sources.

    Pratt's organisation is sponsored by Ann Widdicome and a Tory Councillor. And its not a paid up charity at present you say?.

    Now who stands to benefit from this ?

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    No one has judged the definition in the minds of those who have complained to the NBH of their interpretation of bullying and by that there can really be no judgement made nor spoken of. For Christine Pratt to break the cardinal rule in confidentiality is professionaly unforgivable. Her voice has neither added to nor brought clarity to the matter, for this to happen the individuals concerned must now step forward or be hounded by the media. If indeed she or the NBH had prior concern why had they not registered this before with No10. I suggest that they had not contacted No10 as this would have compromise the individuals concerned, the very thing she has now done by being outspoken. She must resign, it is not for her to decide what is kept confidential and as to what is to be aired, and by knowing this who is to lay trust at her door again. She has utterly compromised the standing of the NBH.

  • Comment number 61.

    Let me get this straight

    The Director of confidential helpline goes public with confidential information?

    She has only taken calls (assuming she is telling the truth), they are unsubstantiated and potentially libellous - and yet she contacts the media?

    What sort of organisation is that?

    And since when does the director of a help line take the actual calls?

    Oh, yeah, and the patron is a Tory.


    That is one very large smelly rat that has just walked into the room. (no offence to rats!)

  • Comment number 62.

    It is really sad that, with the approach of the general elections, the entire political debate in the UK has shifted from criticising the policies of the different parties, to attacking the individuals for the way they write letters, or thought to be bullying people! It's also interesting that the people who want to leak confidential information, supposedly given by people who were seeking help, appear to volunteer more commonly these days! I hope the voters will be able to see these points before they decide their voting direction.

  • Comment number 63.

    While it is worth pointed out that the UK has had numerous unruly prime ministers – Churchill dictated to his secretaries from the bath, Gladstone searched Whitehall for prostitutes to rehabilitate and Wellington fought an opposition MP in a duel – the accusations against Gordon Brown are rather worrying. Importantly, it might discourage cabinet members/civil servants from being honest with the PM when it comes to crucial but politically unpalatable decisions.

    www.governing-principles.com

  • Comment number 64.

    #6

    'Where theres smoke, there be fire'?

    Silly me, I always thought 'innocent until proven guilty' was the cornerstone of British law. I stand corrected.

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    No wonder Gordon Brown is lashing out at his staff. After all he helped oversee turning 6,000 miles of Scottish Sea into English Sea http://www.oilofscotland.org/scottish_politics.html

    As a Scotsman this action will come back to haunt him when this happens http://tinyurl.com/yey765o

  • Comment number 67.

    whats really going on with this story? whats going on here on this blog?

    when i first read this womans comments to the news channels, i thought she was responding to seeing mandelson giving a tv interview, telling the public lies about brown not being a bully.
    if i knew that complaints had been made about brown's office (as a place of work) id point out that mandelson was misleading people with his claims on tv.

    then i read nick robinson's questioning of the matter on his blog post.


    now whats this all about - nick robinson posting to his own blog at 9.30pm - at night?
    then i read a wave of comments criticising the woman who came out and revealed mandelson to wrong in his opinion of brown, when complaints against him from his office have been revealed in the house of commons and are listed on hansard.

    sounds to me as if brown/mandelson spin team has got to nick robinson, and the labour sympathisers are posting comments in numbers to try and discredit this lady for speaking out, which, if politics from 1997 is anything to go by, is the labour party way of getting its "point" across.

  • Comment number 68.

    Before he took office - by coronation rather than election - I expressed strong misgivings with a close relative, on grounds of this man's temper alone. I expended my union vote on the leadership question in favour of Blair, in the 90s, because I felt that Blair was more electable than Brown and less of an angry man.
    I am no longer a labour voter, and was only for a while. An instrumental voter I am appalled at what I see in this party, which uses force rather than consultation. Since Neathergate I've reminded myself that Brown is and was not the only Stalinist in the labour party; the Blair-Roche-Straw coterie that allowed untrammeled immigration, whilst breaking their electoral contract/mandate as per 1997 manifesto for strict controls on immigration, emulated Stalin's technique of transporting large numbers of people into a given area to minimise the independence and thus threat to him of ethnic groups.
    This has been done to the British, I can only describe it as ethnic gerrymandering, and I would dearly like to see them in court for this alone. There is the little matter of the Hague in respect of their military adventurism. Labour only seem to understand the language of violence.
    I could not vote for such a party ever again, and I look forward to seeing the liberal party sit on the opposition benches, with labour taking their place for 90 years, where they can muse on history, psychology, consulting their employers (the electorate) and, above all, honesty.

  • Comment number 69.

    64. thornton_reed:

    #6
    'Where theres smoke, there be fire'?

    "Silly me, I always thought 'innocent until proven guilty' was the cornerstone of British law. I stand corrected."


    You stand corrected. Confirmation, Jack Straw.

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nick,

    You are undermining democracy by focussing on personality traits in a way that could lead ultimately to breakdown in our institutions.

    You may think a sort of political "game show" is what the public wants but if so you are wrong.

    What we want is a credible plan to restore the Government's spending and income to a reasonable balance. It doesn't have to be this minute - after all what GB said about "Prudence" appealed to many. The country's disillusion is because it was just a "sound-bite" and not a "policy" that would be sustained in good times to protect us from the bad.

    So, stop this trivialisation of important issues and concentrate on what matters.

    Please help democracy!

  • Comment number 72.

    @demand_equality "now whats this all about - nick robinson posting to his own blog at 9.30pm - at night?"

    er, he's the BBC's Political Editor - I'd say it's his job. news kinda doesn't take a Sunday off

  • Comment number 73.

    Did some fairly straight forward investigation of this charity myself and can see why Robert Peston is rowing back on behalf of the BBC on this one.

    For starters the National Debt Helpline hasn't reported any accounts with the charity commission since 2008.

    On the charity's home page a quote from David Cameron takes centre stage.

    Yellowbelly's comment is very interesting because if you check her husband, David Pratt, on linkedin his business interests are very similar to the work of the charity.

    Have posted the research links etc to my blog [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 74.

    The real mistake was of course to focus on Brown by Labour. It did not ring true and better to accept what he is. The truth is pretty obvious to anyone even before today.

    After all the taking part in a war where we did not adhere to the Geneva Convention. Our protestations of ignorance/competence over not knowing what was freely available in the US and UK press about the tactics of rendition and torture shows his and the Govt's character. Anything else is actually quite trivial compared to our foreign reputation as friends of point-less wars, US lackeys and torturers.

    Indeed the worry I would have voting Labour even if I forgive 13 years of not sorting the obvious issues: cleaning hospitals (we ban things that kills 1000 times less people): not tackling public sector pensions: ageing population: and climate change: Is I'd want a reassurance that the bruisers Balls and Brown are at worst figure heads.

    Balls has been accused of being a bully as well. I want Labour to signal those two will do what anyone else we elect would (merely ask the US where and when they want our signature and troops) but the rest of Govt and especially the treasury would be divorced from Brown then I could vote for them again.

    I am tired of denials of the obvious and the incompetence/ignorance excuse let's see an end of Brownite and Blairite polarising bullying. However most of all the total incompetence. The borrowing in a boom time.

  • Comment number 75.


    Nick, it’s even rumoured that the Commons Dispatch Box has contacted the helpline on a number of occasions, after being bullied by Duff!

  • Comment number 76.

    Nick:

    However, the BBC has so far found no evidence of any political involvement by Ms Pratt or her charity.

    I and most others still skeptical of Ms. Pratt's involvement with the released of sensitive and confidential information by her organisation in the "bullying row"...

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 77.

    In the interests of fairness, shouldn't some of these reporters be asking Ms Pratt how many staff from Tory/Lib Dem central offices have contacted them for advice? It would be interesting to see if the words 'confidentiality policy' get trotted out.

    As for the allegations, it's all getting a bit messy now. Mainly because there is nothing that substantial to go on. We have the allegations in the book; inquiries in parliament; and now Ms Pratt's input. However, without someone coming forward and stating how they were bullied, it all amounts to hearsay currently.

    As someone who has been a victim of prolonged bullying in the workplace, I am very concerned at the way this story is going and the damage it could do. Employees need to feel that they are going to be taken seriously and sympathetically when they make a complaint. The person who is having these allegations made about them has to feel that they are getting a fair chance to defend themselves as well. Having this being played out in a media circus tit-for-tat fashion is damaging to both of those views.

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick,

    The National Bullying Helpline states:

    "Your call is confidential to us and you will be treated with dignity and respect at all times.

    There are no circumstances in which we would pass on your personal data without your explicit (written) consent."

    Is Mrs Pratt honouring the spirit of this assurance? I don't see the caveat:

    "Although we may reveal to the national media where you work."

  • Comment number 79.

    This was always going to be a very dirty General Election campaign. You ain't seen anything yet!

  • Comment number 80.

    Nick

    viewing this from the cold light of the next day you can see from the first posts that the Labour Rapid Rebuttal Unit were mobilised.

    Also the tenner of their attack on Nick and the Lady who saw Mendacious Mandy on Marr and spoke out, shows that this is a truth that Liebour can never allow to be told.

    The whole (Thick of IT) feel of the way Labour are running around attack dogging this women is clear to see but Labour are are in full attack mode and are not seeing how they're coming across.

    It reminds me of a something I've seen before that led to a tragedy of a Government Scientist being found by a wood.

    Stand by and spectate on a full blown Liebour Bullying Witch hunt.

  • Comment number 81.

    Perhaps Christine Pratt is telling the truth, and this does not fit in with New Labours view of things and she has to be smeared by them.

    I think this is a a New Labour campaign to discredit force Grody out before the election !!!!

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    76. Dennis Junior wrote:

    "I and most others still skeptical of Ms. Pratt's involvement with the released of sensitive and confidential information by her organisation in the "bullying row"..."

    ===================================

    The information she stated would appear to be true and very relevant to the issue ..... you are not suggesting it should be hushed up are you ?

  • Comment number 84.

    So he's solved the worlds environmental problems, saved the worlds economy, can blub on cue and has a warm and avuncular relationship with his personal staff, who obviously adore him.
    And all of this is official because that paragon of integrity, Mandelson says so!
    Why are we even bothering with an election when we are blessed with such a wonderful leader?
    I just don't believe that we are good enough for our supreme leader.
    I propose two measures.
    1. That the law be changed to allow Gordon to be made leader for life.
    2. That in a break with tradition, the churches be allowed to make Gordon a saint within his own lifetime.

  • Comment number 85.

    If there had been an anti-bullying-helpline in Nazi Germany, perhaps Adolf wouldn't have been able to get away with so many bad decisions. People would be better supported when standing up to him...

    It is dangerous having somebody who throws tantrums as Prime Minister and its not unreasonable to spill the beans...

  • Comment number 86.

    If the allegations of bullying are all untrue, why has not Gordon Brown sued for defametion of character?

  • Comment number 87.

    Crikey,

    Looking at the concerted torrent of similar comments attacking the messenger rather than the unpalatable message, it seems that the minions of Lord Mandelson's Instant Rebuttle Unit have been working overtime.

  • Comment number 88.

    Editorial weight give to this story is very poor. The charity is 206 days overdue with its 2008 accounts and the total spend filed with the Charities Committee is £852.00.

    IF it has been running a helpline then no 10 is one of its very few callers to have spent only £852.00

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    85, TGR Worzel wrote:

    It is dangerous having somebody who throws tantrums as Prime Minister and its not unreasonable to spill the beans...

    I bet Maggie threw her handbag around a few times whilst in office. Also didn't Churchill have a bad temper.

  • Comment number 91.

    q: what characteristic are fleet street editors displaying in giving this story such attention?

    a) complete hypocracy given their own reputation for treating their own staff.

    b) complete lack of self awareness of their own behaviour treating their own staff?

    tell me one boss with such a degree of responsibility who does not have a habit of losing his rag and flying off the handle when they hear something they don't like. he'll be a poster boy for the institute of directors by the end of the week.

    this is not about judgement, or character of a person in senior office. it's personal.

  • Comment number 92.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 93.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 94.

    All goes to prove that both Brown and Mandleson are ruthless liars ! Elect Labour and get a cabinet of unelected Lords _ Democracy ????? If Mandleson wants to bulley us all _ get out there and get elected ! Polls ? Labour tosh _ makes you wonder if the election will be run fairly ! Third world dictatorship _ that,s the UK !

  • Comment number 95.

    "
    By the way, the Cabinet Office has now issued an updated response to Andrew Rawnsley's allegations stating that "It is completely untrue to say that the Cabinet Secretary ever gave the prime minister a verbal warning about his behaviour".
    "

    Rawnsley never said it was an official verbal warning, which is what Downing Street is implying. Rawnsley said it was more like an unofficial word in the ear to try and convince Brown to change his ways, and that if he didn't then there *would* be a more official line taken.

    Brown's still using the same technique as always; refuting an allegation that was never made, using semantics to refute something very very specific that wasn't what the original allegation was about.

    Misleading, obfuscating, using implicit unspecified logic in the statement which in their eyes changes the meaning.

    It's always the same technique; that's why you can never ever trust anyone from labour, because they always use that technique, and that's one of the reasons why politicians today are so intensely hated. If you used their technique in the real world (or in court), you'd be strung up pretty quickly.

    I hereby cite an example of the kind of twisted logic that labour would use but in an everyday situation, taken (and amended) from something I posted on guido's site a while back:

    You've given up smoking.
    You tell your wife you're going to the shops to get some bread.
    You come back afterwards and your wife asks you: "Did you buy any cigarettes while you were out?"
    You say, "No."
    Your wife then finds a new packet of cigarettes in your pocket with a receipt dated from 10 minutes ago for those cigarettes.
    She says, "But you said you didn't buy any cigarettes, you liar"
    You say: "Ah, I didn't buy any cigarettes while I was *out* - technically I was in the garage shop at the time, so I was in, not out. See, I didn't lie at all"

    Well, in the real world (and in the legal world), using that twisted labour logic and false semantics doesn't work, because the overall substance/meaning of the conversation is more important than picking out and amending specific words in a pretence to obfuscate the intended meaning.

    Whether it's the PM being a bully, doubling the lowest tax rate, or wmd, the technique is always the same; use invalid semantic rules and false logic that'd never stand up in the real or legal world in order to tell blatent lies every single time you speak.

    People have had enough of that approach, but labour have been doing it for so long, and use it every time they speak, that they just can't stop themselves anymore.

    A clean sweep is needed. You can't have a government running the country where not a single person on the planet can believe a single thing that any of them ever say.

  • Comment number 96.

    People need to ask - why is this story gathering momentum? Because it has the ring of truth. Gordon Brown's personality defects seem to be universally known. The sheer quantity and variety of comments about his unsuitability to be Prime Minister is incredible. It comes from Blair and his cronies, it comes from the Tories, it comes from journalists, it comes from Brown's staff. It's non-stop. What is truly amazing is that there is no mechanism to stop this unelected official causing damage.

  • Comment number 97.

    It appears that the chair of the helpline - who is speaking on BBC Breakfast as I write - is claiming 'confidentiality' at the same time that she's confirming that people who have called said helpline work at No.10.

    She obviously has a different interpretation of the word 'confidentiality' from mine (although to be fair, mine is based on the 'seal of the confessional' concept which is somewhat more rigorous.)

  • Comment number 98.

    My my, someones in full Damage Limitation Mode today, arent they?

    Nothing all week Nick, then suddenly when something breaks against Mr Brown, you're dragged in to man one of the hoses to fight the fire?

    And now all these new logins all rushing headlong at full speed to defend the dear leader and discredit anyone who doesnt toe the line?

    Curiouser and curiouser... Such odd behaviour I have never seen before... LMAO!

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't think it is a good idea to compare prime ministers from history and say that one should have done this and the other should have done that. The pressures we face now are unique and how that is dealt with depends upon the norms of the social group you are part of. In my life I have tried to give people wide room in which to act but still have been unable to avoid confrontations.

    I do think that progress has been made under Gordon Brown and given the high pressure I cannot say that he has acted wrongly. It is difficult to get accustomed to people working in different ways.

 

Page 1 of 4

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.