Belfast Telegraph

Furious MLA slams Policing Board treatment of chief who quit job

By Sarah Rainey

The Northern Ireland Policing Board is in crisis after the forced resignation of its chief executive, a board member has claimed.

Jimmy Spratt MLA said Adrian Donaldson, who stepped down earlier this week, was pushed out after being blamed for the board’s ills.

He said the under-fire watchdog was now in urgent need of reform after falling into “terminal decline”.

“Adrian Donaldson’s demise doesn’t help the board one iota,” said DUP representative Mr Spratt.

“It will not solve any of the board’s problems — his disappearance is only the tip of an iceberg that he inherited.

“It’s a board that needs a radical overhaul and radical reform.”

Mr Donaldson, who joined the board in 2008, stepped down on Monday after a long period of leave on health grounds.

The former chief executive of Castlereagh Borough Council had been the subject of an external review over claims he was under-performing in his role.

He left the board to go on sick leave shortly after management consultant Dr Alan Lennon presented his findings.

Mr Spratt said he feared for the future of the Policing Board after seeing how Mr Donaldson had been treated by his colleagues.

“I think he was forced into going on health leave because he could no longer work in the environment created around him,” he said.

“He was treated in the most disgraceful and disrespectful manner I have ever seen someone treated.

“His resignation doesn’t solve anything and those who think it does are extremely mistaken.”

Others on the Policing Board have hit back at claims Mr Donaldson was forced out.

Alex Maskey MLA said the resignation was “unfortunate” but denied claims he was pushed out or treated unfairly.

“Adrian is a grown man and he resigned — that’s the end of the issue as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“We’ve had management and leadership issues and in my opinion we’ve been moving to address those and they have been addressed.

“Any suggestion that somebody pushed a senior executive out would be incorrect.”

Sinn Fein representative Martina Anderson claimed focusing on Mr Donaldson’s resignation was a “distraction”.

“There were issues of leadership and management and those needed to be resolved, so we did that,” she said.

Mr Donaldson’s departure is the latest blow to the Policing Board, after what has been a difficult period for the body.

A report by independent assessor Ken Reed found the board to be slow, bureaucratic and failing to provide value for its £8.8m annual budget.

Earlier in 2010, chairman Barry Gilligan was forced to stand down temporarily after police launched an investigation into his role in a Belfast land deal.

Background

Adrian Donaldson’s resignation is the latest in a series of blows to the Policing Board. In August 2010, chairman Barry Gilligan was forced to stand down from his post after being interviewed by police over a land deal in Nelson Street, Belfast. He remains on temporary leave. Then, in November 2010, independent assessor Ken Reed’s damning report found that the board’s decision-making procedures were causing “frustration” among senior police officers. He said the operations of the watchdog were slow, bureaucratic and in danger of being overtaken by other oversight bodies. Questions have also been raised about the board’s £8.8m annual budget.

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