A police commissioner found to have displayed “bullying behaviour” towards her staff has refused to answer if she is an appropriate person to take over governance of a county’s fire service.
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North Yorkshire commissioner Julia Mulligan, who it has emerged is facing two further complaints from former members of staff about alleged bullying, told the county’s Police and Crime Panel she had received huge amount of support from her staff following the findings of an inquiry into her behaviour.
The report by the panel found she had subjected staff to constant criticism, disrespect, negative comments, interruptions and humiliation.
Mrs Mulligan, who was appearing before the panel to respond to its recommendations to decrease the likelihood of more allegations of bullying, said: “I have had personal notes of support, they have been feeding me chocolate, given me hugs, they have been fantastic.”
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After emphasising that she had “no line management responsibilities”, the Tory commissioner went to on raise concerns that politicians don’t get the support they need due to concerns of costs to the public purse.
She said: “I think the political establishment could think about that more widely and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners is thinking about how it can support its members.”
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Councillor Ashley Mason told Mrs Mulligan that while she had no legal line management responsibilities, as an elected official she had standards to uphold and had to be answerable.
Cllr Mason questioned whether, in light of the findings, she was “a fit and proper person to be taking over the fire brigade”.
Mrs Mulligan, who has been the county’s commissioner since 2012, said: “I’m not taking over the fire brigade. The fire brigade will run under the chief officer.”
Cllr Mason persisted: “Do you still think you are a fit and proper person to take over the governance of the fire brigade?”
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She replied: “You need to ask them that and do a survey of them if that would make you feel comfortable.”
When Cllr Mason repeated the question again, Mrs Mulligan replied: “I’m not going to get into a debate about this, that’s my answer.”
After the panel’s report was published Mrs Mulligan said she was “shocked” at both the panel’s approach and findings, but when asked if she still stood by the comment, she declined to answer.
The meeting heard the findings of the report into Mrs Mulligan’s behaviour had been passed to Conservative Central Office.
After the meeting, the panel’s chairman, Councillor Carl Les, said Mrs Mulligan’s initial response to the recommendations had been “confrontational”, but she had subsequently been “more helpful”and had agreed to the panel’s action plan.
He said: “I hope this draws a line under this issue, but we have to wait and see. Bullying is a serious issue wherever it is found, in the workplace or the school yard.”
Stuart Minting, Local Democracy Reporting Service