CIMA and its painful disciplinary

by Gavin Hinks

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11 Nov 2011

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CIMA members out there will no doubt have followed with interest the disciplinary brought by the institute against one of its own former council members, Margaret May.

The hearings concluded this week with a reprimand for May for "failing to act with integrity and professionalism". In the process CIMA has racked up a bill of £179,000, some of which (£55,000) May has been ordered to pay in costs. In total May will face a bill of almost £100,000. May, as you might expect, has reacted with disappointment at the outcome and plans an appeal.

The claims against May revolved around a consultation paper and what authority she had to circulate the paper. Separate charges against her were in relation to remarks she made about CIMA CEO Charles Tilley about his role as a non-executive director of Great Ormond Street Hospital following the Baby P scandal, and passing on to other CIMA members a private letter he sent to May.

May was charged with misconduct in relation to the Tilley issue, but the disciplinary panel decided she was entitled to raise the subject, although it found against her on circulating the letter.

The whole disciplinary process has lasted more than a year and looks like it will rumble on for much longer. Given the charges revolve around who had authority over a fairly innocuous consultation paper, CIMA members would be forgiven for wondering whether they got value for money out of the process and whether it could have been put to better use.

Neutral observers might wonder why the affair warranted a disciplinary procedure at all. It has the ring of an internal issue that could have been dealt with behind closed doors with a few choice words between the parties concerned. A conflict such as this with a senior member was never going to be good for CIMA.

They are time consuming, costly and potentially divisive. It’s difficult to see how the affair could not have been disruptive for the institute and its remaining council members who must be considering the outcome and what it might mean for their own behaviour. CIMA now faces the prospect of the affair running on for some time to come.

May clearly believes the institute has damaged her reputation and her job prospects and believes, after 17 years on council, she has much to lose if she rolls over. It’s hard to see how this process is benefitting anyone.

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