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Brent turmoil over suspension

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Fresh turmoil has hit Brent LBC with the suspension for gross misconduct of finance director Clive Heaphy.

The move came just before the council yesterday named Christine Gilbert, pictured, as interim chief executive.

That in turn followed the controversial ousting of chief executive Gareth Daniel earlier this month, who quit after a breakdown in relations with council leader Muhammed Butt (Lab).

A council statement said Mr Heaphy “has been suspended following allegations of gross misconduct that are not related to financial irregularities”.

Deputy director of finance, Mick Bowden, is to assume responsibility as the council’s senior finance officer pending the appointment of an external interim finance director, a spokesman for the council said.

Cllr Butt earlier said of Ms Gilbert’s appointment: “I am delighted that Christine has agreed to accept the post. She has a wealth of local government experience at the most senior level and will provide inspirational leadership to the council in the months ahead.

“Brent is proud of its achievements to date and although already a high performing organisation we are committed to providing even better services to residents under the council’s new leadership team.

“Residents can expect to see a range of exciting transformations in the quality of services we provide to the local community.”

Ms Gilbert was chief inspector at Ofsted 2006-11 and before that served as chief executive at Tower Hamlets LBC. She is married to former Home Office minister Tony McNulty, until 2010 Labour MP for nearby Harrow East.

Disputes surrounding Mr Daniel’s departure resurfaced at last week’s council meeting, when opposition councillors complained that Cllr Butt omitted the matter from his statement to the meeting, which was mentioned briefly only in mayor Michael Adeyeye’s announcements.

The published executive report also makes no reference to the chief executive post.

Brent could now present a challenge to the fledgling system of sector-led improvement being implemented by the LGA.

LGC understands there have been attempts made by the sector to help find a way for Mr Daniel and Cllr Butt to work together, but that these have been unsuccessful.

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