“Are You Listening Now, Haringey?”
By Tina Quinn
Key Themes: Mental Health, Whistleblowing, True Story, Oppression Description
This book is a whistleblower’s DIY justice. Denied access to justice through conventional means, Tina Quinn has not been able to tell her story. She has not been allowed to answer the allegations against her nor, has she been allowed to discuss the protected disclosures and formal complaint against her former Head Teacher. Haringey have used all the resources at their disposal to silence her. The law allows them to do this and there is nowhere for her to turn. This book is Tina’s story. Her account of what happened to her and, how she came to lose the job she loved, while the person who set her up is still working, protected by Haringey, in order to prevent another scandal. This is a story known and shared by all other whistleblowers. This is a story that needs telling. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about whistleblowers. This book offers an insight into what it means to be a whistleblower and how no-one really wants to know the truth. It documents just how far large organisations and multiple people are prepared to go to shut up one lone whistleblower. Tina needs the truth to be known. Tina needs justice. This book is the only means she has to clear her name. She will not be silenced and she will not go away. This story catalogues Haringey’s efforts to cover up what rightly should have been made public.
About the Author
In September, 2010, at the age of 50, Tina Quinn was doing a job she loved. She was a primary school teacher. In the previous year she had seen, heard and experienced, a number of financial and ethical malpractices perpetrated by her Head Teacher, Cal Shaw. An opportunity arose for Tina to become a Teacher Governor, with the intention of exposing what was going on at the school. In a knee jerk reaction, borne out of fear, Cal Shaw set up Tina on false allegations, in order to have a procedurally valid reason to suspend her and remove her from the premises, preventing her from taking part in the election for the Teacher Governor. A flagrant abuse of her authority. Tina Quinn made a formal complaint of professional misconduct against Cal Shaw for having set her up on false allegations. To illustrate why Cal Shaw had set her up, Tina made a number of allegations, amounting to protected disclosures, to a Senior Haringey Official, Barbara Breed. Barbara Breed, unknown to Tina, was a close friend and mentor of Cal Shaw. Rather than carry out a whistleblowing investigation, as she was legally and morally bound to do, Barbara Breed chose instead to betray Tina to Cal Shaw and this set off a chain of events, leaving Tina’s career and life in tatters, her good name, reputation and 34 year exemplary work record, destroyed. Once it was determined that there was no foundation to the allegations Tina was reinstated. However, because of Barbara Breed’s betrayal, Tina suffered four months of victimisation at the hands of Cal Shaw. Impatient that all her efforts to force Tina to resign were not working, Cal Shaw set up Tina for a second time, again suspending her on false allegations. Those with a vested interest in stopping Tina from speaking out were the very people charged with disciplining her. Thwarted every step of the way from speaking out,Tina was eventually dismissed, not for the allegations which were used to secure her suspension but for breaching the terms of her suspension. This was not the real reason for her dismissal but was good enough to secure her dismissal and hide the fact that she was dismissed to prevent another scandal for Haringey. At the age of 52 Tina was rendered unemployable and had no legal redress.
I worked as a Primary School Teacher in Chestnuts Primary School in Tottenham. In that school, typical of all schools and, all workplaces, for that matter, we had people I would call a ‘snitch’ or a ‘grass’. Adults who would listen to conversations in the staffroom or with groups of colleagues and then go and report what was being said to the Head, Cal Shaw. They would often only hear parts of conversations and take what they heard to the Head, exaggerating, guessing or even making up parts that they did not hear. Why would a Head Teacher foster this culture of turning colleagues against colleagues? What makes adults snitch or grass on their colleagues? It’s behaviour learned in the playground when they were children. There are many reasons why people tell tales. They do it so that they can keep on the good side of a bully, ingratiating themselves so that they avoid becoming a victim. They do it to curry favour, storing up brownie points for their own ambitions. They do it to divert suspicion from themselves when involved in anything untoward. They do it as an ‘attack being the best form of defence’ type action. They do it out of jealousy for another, whom they may class as a rival for a position they want. They do it because they are weak and pathetic. They do it because it is a character flaw. We all know why they do it. Whistleblowers are always, wrongly, labelled as being snitches. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are not the sort of people to tell tales. When someone blows the whistle it is, mostly, because they are trying to do right, to protect others or, to change things for the better. More often than not, they are doing what they do for selfless reasons, in the interests of many rather than simply for themselves. Why then are Whistleblowers not properly protected as they ought to be? Why are Whistleblowers villified rather than applauded? Why do Whistleblowers have their lives destroyed simply for trying to do the right thing? Why are they rendered unemployable for doing the right thing?