The chief executive of Sandwell Council – the borough which houses right-wing Labour First MPs Tom Watson and John Spellar – has this morning been suddenly placed on gardening leave by the Labour-run council.
An email to staff informed them that Jan Britton had been placed on ‘extended leave’ with immediate effect.
Mr Britton – considered a close ally of Watson’s close associate Steve Eling when Eling was council leader – has been at the heart of a number of controversies exposed by the SKWAWKBOX, including:
- a clean standards finding in an investigation into Eling’s behaviour, described by several other councillors as a whitewash
- a bullying complaint against both men by former assistant chief executive Melanie Dudley
- the exoneration of Watson employee and Sandwell councillor Simon Hackett after Hackett was judged by the Information Commissioner to have breached data laws concerning a minor
- legal persecution of a local blogger that collapsed spectacularly during the trial when video evidence emerged that exploded claims made against the blogger by Brittan and a council employee
The SKWAWKBOX understands that the ‘extended leave’ announcement was made after ‘discoveries led to serious concerns’ about Brittan’s conduct.
Jan Britton hung up when contacted for comment. New council leader Yvonne Davies declined to comment on the situation, saying only that she was focused on serving the people of Sandwell.
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