Senior council colleagues of assistant chief executive Willie Shannon sat and discussed deleting his job without his knowledge a month and a half before he learned his fate.
Recalling his humiliation today in evidence to the Accounts Commission inquiry Mr Shannon said the internal discussions with chief executive David Clark had taken place in July last year, just one month after Mr Clark had taken up his job, which Mr Shannon had been one of the front-runners for.
Christine May of the Accounts Commission asked Mr Shannon if he was surprised the proposal to delete his job had not been leaked, given the council’s recent propensity for passing information into the public domain. But Mr Shannon said he picked up nothing more than signals from colleagues that something was not right.
Looking to the future, he said trust needed to be rebuilt among officials, among councillors and between the two groups. He backed the previous day’s call by councillor Gary Robinson for a form of truth and reconciliation process, as staged following the end of apartheid in South Africa, in which all the participants in the recent turmoil would come clean and acknowledge their part so the council could begin to move on.
He said he felt he had lost a year of his career and he would not wish the stressful experience on anyone. For the first time he had been on the outside of the council looking in and had seen “the walls of bureaucracy closing” to thwart him.
Earlier today representatives of the three main unions, Unison, Unite and the GMB gave evidence. It emerged that whether Mr Shannon was in a union or not at the time of the attempt to delete his job the council had an agreed protocol to consult them on such issues. It did not.
Allan Hannah of Unite said Mr Shannon had become a member of his union in early August.
Brian Smith of Unison and Robert Williamson of the GMB said the recent troubles had put some of their members under high levels of stress, partly because they were not permitted to defend themselves when under attack from councillors and others.
Both men abhorred the fashion in which internal staffing matters had been played out in the press. Mr Smith said it was an issue the council needed to discuss in order to restrain those who were leaking and “keep these matters in the places they should be”.
He said: “I believe councillors can exercise self-restraint and keep these matters out of the press.”
The public spectacle made of internal staffing matters amazed union colleagues on the mainland. Mr Smith said they saw it as so unusual it was something that only happens in Shetland.