CIMA council member charged with misconduct

CIMA council member Margaret May has faced two charges of misconduct and violating the code of ethics at a disciplinary tribunal that began yesterday.

May was accused of bringing the institute into disrepute through sending allegedly controversial emails, one of which was interpreted as a personal attack on chief executive Charles Tilley.

Her lawyer, Garrett Byrne, said the situation had been blown out of all proportion and implied that the case amounted to a witch-hunt, saying that politics was behind the accusations.

The first charge stemmed from an email sent by May following an executive committee meeting early last year. CIMA lawyer Fenella Morris claimed her correspondence was a clear and deliberate misrepresentation of the proceedings while the defendant insists her reading of events was reasonable and that there are two witnesses who agree.

There were two non-identical transcripts for the same meeting and it is upon their disparities that the argument rests. Bryne said May’s was a true record of events and points to lines in the CIMA version that have been fudged or left out.

The second charge relates to an email sent by May in which she suggested Tilley should resign as non-executive director of Great Ormond Street Hospital and issue a public statement, relating to news reports about the hospital. CIMA said this constituted a personal attack and accused May of using inappropriate channels to air her views.

May’s lawyer maintained she was justified in foregrounding the issue of reputational risk to CIMA, following negative press coverage of the hospital’s dealing with a whistleblower in the Baby P case. Byrne said her email constituted a “sounding out of trusted fellow council members” – five in total – and that it should never have landed in Tilley’s inbox.

Each party has accused the other of using inflammatory language, claims that are strenuously denied by both sides.

Three witnesses for CIMA have already been called and chief executive Charles Tilley will give evidence today. May will then have her chance to speak, as will the members supporting her story. Council is already discussing dates for an extension to the hearing, which continues today.

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