LBWF Chief Executive Martin Esom and asbestos: the silence continues

Exactly one month ago, Trevor Calver and I wrote LBWF Chief Executive Martin Esom the following e-mail:


Dear Mr. Esom,

In November 2012, we wrote to you about the potential conflict of interest inherent in concurrently you being chief executive of LBWF and board member of NPS London Ltd..

You told us that you understood the risks, and had taken steps to mitigate them, explaining: ‘I fully recognise my role as board director, and also Chief Executive of the authority and ensure that the two roles are not blurred. My deputy, Shifa Mustafa, acts as the lead client and she has a free reign to fulfil that task in the best interests of the local authority. She reports to a variety of Cabinet Members directly on the performance of NPS’.

Subsequently, in January 2013, we asked to see copies of the reports regarding LBWF-NPS London Ltd working arrangements that Ms. Mustafa had – as you indicated – produced for Cabinet members in 2011 and 2012, and were told that they were ‘verbal and therefore no formal paper reports exist’ (FIA, 2012/0874).

In relation to this admission, we note that:

(a) the Independent Panel report of 2009, which the Council accepted in its entirety, found that ‘Informal briefings appear to have replaced reports to Cabinet’, and warned that this practice was unacceptable and must cease forthwith;

(b) each year for sometime, LBWF has done millions of pounds of business with NPS London Ltd.;

(c) in 2012, you regarded NPS London Ltd as ‘our advisors on asbestos matters’;

(d) during its voluminous correspondence with us in 2012, LBWF showed marked confusion about highly important issues, and, for example, was unable to date when it had received the key GBNS reports on asbestos in the Town Hall;

(e) on 19th January 2015, LBWF was found guilty on four counts concerning asbestos in the Town Hall under health and safety legislation, with the judge referring sentencing to a higher court in recognition of the severity of the offenses; and

(f) according to the Waltham Forest Guardian, NPS London Ltd. now claims it has had ‘“nothing to do”’ with the asbestos issue in the Town Hall, thus explicitly contradicting your own earlier claim.

Against this background, the system of verbal reporting that you instituted seems to us to have been a significant misjudgment, which very likely will impose serious financial and human costs for years to come.

Taking these various facts together, we believe that you have failed in your fundamental duty of care to staff, their families, and members of the public, and accordingly should resign as chief executive of LBWF forthwith.

We look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Calver and Nick Tiratsoo

PS Please note that this is an open letter, and we are circulating it to interested parties


Having received neither acknowledgement nor response, today we wrote to Mr. Esom as follows:


Dear Mr. Esom,

We wrote you the e-mail attached exactly one month ago.

So far, you have not even acknowledged it, let alone answered.

The issues that we raise are serious ones, and relate to your suitability to remain Chief Executive in the context of the Town Hall asbestos court decision.

By ignoring these issues, you give the impression that you are beyond questioning, hardly compatible with either the seven principles of public life that you are supposed to uphold, or indeed the general tenets of our democratic system.

Of course, you are also bound by the Council’s Residents First Charter (‘We will provide a full response to all e-mails or web requests within 5 working days’), though as we know from past experience, you appear to believe the conceit that this applies to your staff but not yourself.

We hope that you will now respond forthwith, but we also give you warning that should you continue with your current stance, we will vigorously take up the issues elsewhere, and in doing so seek maximum publicity for your own documented disdain.

Yours sincerely,

Trevor Calver and Nick Tiratsoo