The high-profile investigation into alleged Covid rule-breaking at the UK Prime Minister's Office offers lessons for any employer conducting investigations into staff conduct.
Oversight of the investigation, for instance, had to be shifted from UK cabinet secretary Simon Case to senior civil servant Sue Gray after allegations that Case may have been present at one of the gatherings that breached social distancing rules.
It then emerged that the report would be unlikely to be published in full. Although some past inquiries have been made public, the terms of reference say that only the ‘findings’ will be published as opposed to the factual details and evidence behind them.
The report's progress was further complicated when London's Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation into the allegations, reviewing evidence gathered by the inquiry and seeking further details from those identified.
This investigation highlights a number of issues for employers, including:
- How to select an internal investigator when the most senior members of management may be involved in the alleged misconduct?
- How useful is a report that is only general and doesn't provide factual details or evidence?
- What to do when an internal investigation turns external – through the involvement of law or regulatory enforcement
Following our successful investigations webinar series (click here if you missed it), join us as we dissect the Downing Street case, and consider how employers might respond in similar scenarios.