Slough's most senior councillor abused a council employee's trust by giving an important whistle-blowing complaint to the accused person instead of investigating it.
On Monday, 6 March 2017, the Leader of Slough Council, Cllr Sohail Munawar, intentionally sent a senior member of staff's whistle-blowing complaint to the home email address of the main accused person, temporary chief executive Roger Briscoe Craig Parkin.
The complaint alleged various activities by Mr Parkin and by Linda Margaret Walker, a temporary consultant solicitor employed through a confusing multitude of companies including
Because the whistle-blowing complaint is now the subject of legal proceedings, we do not know the precise details but the Slough Times has seen court-admissible evidence of Mr Munawar sending the employee's whistle-blowing complaint to Mr Parkin's home email address.
11 days after Mr Munawar knowingly abused the council's whistle-blowing procedure, the Slough Observer published details of the council's new whistle-blowing policy. Reporter Krishan Davis quoted Mr Munawar as saying:
The council is committed to the highest possible standards of
openness, honesty and accountability. It is not prepared to tolerate malpractice
In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others
that we deal with, who have any serious concerns about any aspect of the
council's work to come forward and voice those concerns.
Wherever possible, employees are encouraged to use relevant
council procedures to report issues in an open and transparent way, because that
is the type of organisational culture we are trying to foster.
I hope that the improvements made to this process inspire
confidence and enable employees and others to feel able to raise concerns so
that the authority can address them appropriately and improve standards within
Did the Leader of Slough Council, Cllr Sohail Munawar,
really Serve With Honour ?
It does appear, from all the available evidence, that Mr Munawar betrayed a council employee's loyalty and trust. If this assumption is correct, inevitably other council staff might be too scared to reveal allegations of fraud, corruption, theft and other criminal activities many believe to exist within the Slough Unitary Authority organisation.
We think it likely some staff will now suffer workplace bullying in silence because they fear their legitimate complaints can no longer be made in confidence.
At the main council meeting held on Thursday, 28 September 2017, Slough Times reporter Paul Janik asked Cllr Munawar if he was going to resign because he sent a confidential staff whistle-blowing complaint to the home email address of Roger Parkin who is accused by the whistle-blower of wrong-doing at the council.
Contrary to good procedure, neither the council's Monitoring Officer, 59 years-old Linda Walker, nor the deputy Monitoring Officer, 58 years-old Hugh Edward Peart, were present.
Mrs Walker is, or certainly has been, the Business Development Manager of HB Public Law Ltd.
Mr Peart is simultaneously Mrs Walker's Monitoring Officer deputy at Slough Council, Mrs Walker's HB Public Law Ltd boss, a director of HB Public Law Ltd and an employee of the London Borough of Harrow.
One wonders why Slough councillors have allowed the take-over of Slough Council's legal functions by, effectively, Harrow Council – the owners of unprofitable HB Public Law Ltd.
The Slough Times would like to know why the Harrow people (who hold temporary statutory positions at Slough Council) did not turn-up at a major meeting of Slough Council. This is not the first occasion Mrs Walker was absent. – her absences are always concealed from the public record by the lack of properly documented council minutes.
Slough Council staff again replaced missing Monitoring Officer Linda Walker with council solicitor Sushil Thobhani whose legal experience consists of:
Thus no administrative law experience.
Mr Thobhani burst into life to protect Cllr Munawar. Muttering something about it is not in the council's rules so Cllr Munawar does not have to answer the question. Sohail Munawar remained silent. Others were baffled by the deliberate lack of clarity about which specific council rules protected Sohail Munawar from having to defend his misconduct which has brought the council into public disrepute.
A former and much respected Labour councillor, Kenneth Wright, asked Sohail Munawar a question at the same 28 September 2017 council meeting. Mr Wright asked:
In his introduction to the new Confidential Reporting Code SBC Leader, Cllr. Munawar stated:
The Council is committed to the highest possible standards of openness,
honesty and accountability. It is not prepared to tolerate malpractice or
In line with that commitment we expect employees, and others that we deal
with, who have any serious concerns about any aspect of the council's work to
come forward and voice those concerns.
Wherever possible, employees are encouraged to use relevant council
procedures to report issues in an open and transparent way, because that is the
type of organisational culture we are trying to foster.
I hope that the improvements made to this process inspire confidence and
enable employees and others to feel able to raise concerns so that the Authority
can address them appropriately and improve standards within the Organisation.
Could I please ask our Leader to explain why he has personally failed to honour the promises he made when he introduced the Council's new Confidential Reporting Code for whistle-blowing complaints?
Clearly unable to answer Mr Wright's very serious question, Cllr Sohail Munawar replied:
Thank you for the question, The Council is fully committed to
our confidential reporting code, which by its very natural is confidential and
it is neither appropriate nor fair to discus individual cases in public.
The Slough Times wonders who, if anyone, at Slough Council is going to investigate Cllr Munawar's leaking of the whistle-blower's serious complaint.
We understand the actual whistle-blower's complaint, made 7 months ago, has
never been properly investigated. A solicitor supplied by the loss making HB
Public Law Ltd claims the complaint was
lost and when re-discovered
HB Public Law Ltd and/or the council was unsure how to handle it.
Will council staff, and the public whose taxes fund Slough Council, be able to trust those currently running the council to professionally, honestly and effectively deal with this matter when their actions appear to be devoid of proper scrutiny and accountability ?
Cllr Sohail Munawar (Labour, Elliman), the Leader of Slough Council, is no stranger to controversy.
Mr Munawar, 47, first came to the attention of Slough Times when two of his beers and wines consignments from England to France were intercepted by British Customs officers.
When the lorry containers were examined, the containers were completely empty – all alcoholic drinks had vanished; not even an empty beer can remained.
Customs then decided that when Mr Munawar's company,
Aspen Wholesale Ltd (05397243) purchased more alcoholic drinks from UK wholesalers, his company must pay all taxes (excise duty) at the time of purchase.
Customs also wanted Mr Munawar's company to pay the unpaid excise duty on the two booze consignments which had mysteriously vanished in the UK and therefore had not been lawfully exported to France.
Mr Munawar appealed against the Custom's decision. He lost. The Tribunal's
judgement is at
Aspen Wholesale Ltd v Revenue & Customs  UKFTT 103 (TC)
Reading the judgement, it seems, in the Slough Times honest opinion, Mr Munawar might have been involved, perhaps naïvely, in some kind of criminal conspiracy with professional crooks to defraud the tax authorities. We empathise this is only our honest opinion based on several puzzling unanswered questions.
We have no conclusive evidence against Mr Munawar. In our opinion a lingering concern remains that the whole set-up was strange, un-businesslike, and suggestive of possible criminal activity.
In the Slough Times opinion, either Mr Munawar did not have a clue how to professionally run a business or he became, perhaps unwittingly, part of a fraud.
Aspiring Sherlock Holmes should read Mr Munawar's evidence starting at paragraph 51.
Mr Munawar has never been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction, so Mr Munawar is, and remains, a completely innocent man.
This matter has always seemed peculiar but there is no law against peculiar
people or against peculiar businesses although Customs tend to investigate
peculiar empty lorry containers especially when all the tax-free booze is
peculiar is the exporting of
ghost booze to France unless
someone, somewhere, is going to make a profit. It is entirely possible
Mr Munawar did not know what was going-on, but is that really the best way to
run any commercial business ?
Mr Munawar's company, Aspen Wholesale Ltd, of which he was the sole director, eventually went bust.
Unfortunately Mr Munawar's business ventures have not always been successful. His known directorships include:
Mr Munawar was the
designated premises supervisor at Costcutter, 41-45
High Street, Saffron Walden Essex CB10 1AR since 1 June 2006. The
licencee was Mr Munawar's business associate and Farnham Common resident
Mr Mosawar Khan. The local authority is Uttlesford District Council.
On Thursday, 9 September 2010, the shop sold alcohol to 15 years-old boy.
Four other licensed premises had refused to sell alcohol to the same 15 years-old
boy. It was the second occasion, since Mr Munawar became the
premises supervisor, that the shop was caught unlawfully selling alcohol to
At Costcutter in Essex Mr Munawar used his
personal license, issued by
Slough Council, to sell alcohol to customers. Mr Munawar's whereabouts were
unknown when the shop sold the alcohol to the child.
Uttlesford District Council's licensing committee suspended Costcutter's alcoholic drinks license for one month. The shop also had to pay a fixed penalty fine.
Some Labour Party members say they are unhappy with Labour politicians sending their children to private schools like Mr Munawar did.
The School Week web site published an article dated 10 September 2015:
Sohail Munawar, a Labour councillor for social and economic
inclusion at Slough Borough Council, was also made bankrupt.
I had two children at the school and had paid the fees for
10 years. I was experiencing financial difficulty at the time, but the money was
pursued aggressively. When it ended up in court it was £11,000. Mr Munawar
said he was disgusted by the extra costs and questioned the escalation.
The reporter, John Dickens, previous newspaper Slough Observer published a similar story mentioning Cllr Munawar on 11 September 2015.