By Lynn Malone
Former Unite union official Stephen Deans resigned from his Grangemouth job with immediate effect this afternoon – I’m not surprised – the union was forewarned by Newsnet Scotland’s persistent press enquires since yesterday afternoon – we were onto the story.
In a somewhat short press release Ineos said: “The company has conducted a thorough investigation into Mr Deans’ activities over the last eighteen months and made Mr Deans aware of these findings last week.
“Mr Deans requested an additional five days prior to the final disciplinary hearing to allow him time to provide any further relevant information.
“The company was due to meet with Mr Deans again tomorrow but has now received his resignation.”
Most journalists rely on trustworthy sources that give them information and follow it up when they feel it is in the public interest and should be out there – like the case of the witch-hunt against Mr Deans and the fiasco surrounding Ineos and Grangemouth.
I have such a source who claimed it was likely Mr Deans would face disciplinary action tomorrow (Tuesday) and be sacked; my gut instinct was to believe this to be true and follow it up immediately.
Every journalist strives to ensure their information is honest, accurate and fair. I wanted to ensure balance and give Unite and Ineos the chance to comment and began yesterday afternoon.
No one was available at Ineos then but today I was informed that their communication manager was: “In the office today but can’t take your call right now.” This became a recurring theme but was not unexpected. After all, were they were hardly going to confirm to a journalist they were sacking Mr Deans.
What really shocked me was the way I was stonewalled by Unite, his union, the people representing him, their threatened comrade.
Mr Deans had been suspended by operator Ineos over claims he used company time for political business.
On their website the union claims that: “Unite is dedicated to serving the best interests of its members and will seek to improve their standard of living and the quality of their lives through effective relationships with employers and government.”
I phoned every regional office, press contact, spokesperson at Unite and left messages for Pat Rafferty, the Unite Scotland Secretary. I explained I had some questions that I would like them to respond to. Despite repeatedly calling them and explained the seriousness of the information I had been passed – they never called me back.
I had managed to contact their communications officer, Shaun Noble who was “cut off from my calls due to a bad signal” between Sunday and Monday. I withheld my number today and called again, he replied – the signal had returned. I asked him not to hang up and eventually began a dialogue.
I asked if he could tell me if there had been any developments regarding Mr Deans, since Friday. I said I understood the full time role no longer existed at the plant. Could anyone clarify if the former union man’s position at the oil refinery was safe and would he continue to have a job? Crucially, could they confirm any further developments or changes in relation to Mr Deans and Ineos?
He was oblique and insisted I send all this in an e-mail to the director of campaigns and communications, Pauline Doyle, who was uncommunicative and would not take my earlier calls.
But I did as he suggested thinking that surely they must give me a response, even to say they refused to respond! I then copied the e-mail to the myriad of Unite people I had attempted to communicate with, just to be sure.
I’m still waiting on a promised press release after furiously finding out via Twitter that Mr Deans had been hung out to dry and forced to resign. I phoned each and every one of them again – to no avail.
I’m still waiting.