Has LBWF Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes’ Town Hall asbestos inquiry gone seriously awry?

As previously reported, following my request that LBWF examines whether it may have recently contravened the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes is embarked upon an internal investigation, involving ‘a number of officers, former employees of the Council and other third parties’, ‘covering a significant period of time since 2013’, and taking ‘a number of months to complete’, with Clyde & Co. LLP contracted to ‘support’ him.

At first sight, this seems to be positive news, proof that, as Mr. Hynes initially told me, ‘the Council takes the matters you have raised…very seriously’.

Yet as time has passed, doubts about what is going on have increased. 

One unexpected development is that, answering a query under the Freedom of Information Act, LBWF admits that Mr. Hynes’ inquiry has no terms of reference.

And that’s worrying because, if there are no terms of reference, how can anyone know exactly what Mr. Hynes is supposed to be investigating, or judge if he has done his job properly?

Separately, Clyde & Co. LLP’s involvement also looks puzzling. 

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 legislation is easy to follow and concise, so why a Director of Governance and Law should need any additional ‘support’ is unclear. 

But if Mr. Hynes really does need ‘support’, Clyde & Co. LLP seems an odd choice to provide it.  

LBWF Leader Cllr. Grace Williams states that Clyde & Co. LLP is ‘a global law firm of which [sic] has been operating for over 90 years employing over 600 legal professionals and specialists and has the largest dispute resolution practice of any UK law firm’, and accordingly professes herself satisfied that ‘the Council’s best interests will be served by the legal team that we have instructed’. 

However, this leaves open more than it resolves.

As a global law firm, Clyde & Co. LLP no doubt charges global fees, and thus is likely a high-cost option. Moreover, its specialism, as Cllr. Williams recognises, is the fairly sophisticated business of providing ‘highest quality advisory and dispute resolution services to insurers and their clients’.

Against this background, to use Clyde & Co. LLP as LBWF says it is doing, for the purposes of helping Mr. Hynes clear up a relatively simple matter of regulatory compliance, appears to be a bewilderingly extravagant use of public money, akin to using a solid graphene hammer to crack a very small nut.

In short, while Mr. Hynes forthcoming findings are awaited with interest, as of today the omens are not good.

Related Posts

Private Eye reports the new LBWF asbestos scandal (2)

LBWF’s Town Hall asbestos scandal: an update and comment

Private Eye reports the new LBWF asbestos scandal (1)