Page last updated at 20:39 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Council recruitment 'shambolic'

Christine Laird
Mrs Laird took the job in 2002 but left in 2005 after taking sick leave

A former managing director of a council has told a High Court hearing that her recruitment process was "shambolic".

Christine Laird is being sued for £1m by Cheltenham Borough Council for an alleged "fraudulent or negligent" misrepresentation in her application.

The council is accusing Mrs Laird, 52, of withholding details of a history of depressive illness when she applied.

Mrs Laird told the High Court, during cross-examination, that there had been no requirement for a medical report.

'Financial loss'

Mrs Laird, of Lincoln Green Farm, Tewkesbury, was appointed in February 2002 but left in 2005 after taking sick leave.

The council claimed this resulted in a substantial financial loss.

Mrs Laird told Tim Kerr QC, representing the council, that the recruitment pack sent to prospective job candidates was misleading.

She told the court: "The statement that the council embraced the values of being honest, truthful, wanting to work together in partnership with other organisations and providing quality service at the right price was absolute bunkum."

Mrs Laird said her bouts of depression had been caused by family bereavements or lack of certainty in employment or her personal finances. She said that she believed herself to be of good health.

'Freemasons recruited'

Mrs Laird claims she was unlawfully removed from her post and that she was the victim of bullying by other council members.

She said that several female councillors told her during her recruitment process that they believed the council was a "recruiting ground" for freemasons.

She told the court that she believed the council was "at the least negligent and at worst deceived me into accepting a job that, had I been aware of all the facts, I would have immediately turned down, or at best reserved judgment about".

The case continues.



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