As Mike Law mentioned on his blog two weeks ago, there have been a number of rumours circulating about the abrupt departure of Joe Duckworth, Newham council's former chief executive. This version of events, in the current issue of Private Eye, seems the most plausible of the explanations I have heard so far:
So who would want the god-awful job of chief executive next? Recruitment will definitely go ahead, despite the suggestion by local government minister Eric Pickles that the post should be abolished. We know that the Mayor tried two years ago to bring in a figure from the private sector before Duckworth's appointment, but the choice of Roger Tucker, of African Arabian Petroleum, was withdrawn before he took the job. So who does that leave?
Shameless bullshit from Newham council about the sudden enforced departure of its £240,000-plus-a-year chief executive Joe "Vera" Duckworth.
Newham released a platitudinous statement: "Two successful years... enjoyed time... take career in new direction... seek new challenges" etc. All very chummy - except chief execs departing on amicable terms are not usually escorted from the building by security men. Vera had to go because he was too independent for Newham's power-crazed elected Labour mayor Sir Robin Wales, who demands total obedience to his whims. Duckworth, who in his previous job, following stories in the Eye, exposed a dodgy procurement racket on the Isle of Wight, crossed Wales early on by getting rid of one of his closest cronies, deputy chief executive Chris Woods.
Vera's departure is believed to have been brought about because of conflict over the role of Newham's "executive director change programme", Steve Swayne. Swayne does not have a local government background, which no doubt endears him to Mayor Wales. He is a consultant from an outfit called Kingsgate Interim Advisory and Investment Ltd, which was paid £337,450 by Newham for its services in 2009-10. Sister company Kingsgate Square Mile received £71,530.60 in the same year - a grand total of nearly £409,000. Swayne is a director of Kingsgate Interim, which specialises in "turning round" troubled businesses and has in recent years claimed to be able to do the same for public bodies, although Newham is so far the only council to have had the treatment. Despite his reputation as a "company doctor", Swayne was somehow unable to "turn around" his previous company, electronic components firm Eurodis Electron of which he was chief executive. It went bust in 2005.
I hear that some bloke called Tony Hayward, who is hideously expensive and another oil man, is currently available for interview...