Bullying is not something that should ever be tolerated in a workplace environment.
Businesses and organisations talk a good fight about it, but often their processes are inadequate and fail those that they are meant to protect.
It’s often difficult to raise your head above the parapet as you are trapped in that toxic atmosphere and afraid to speak out for fear of reprisals.
I have first-hand knowledge of this at the BBC where my bullying complaints against management were treated with fake concern and then ignored.
Others, who also complained, were effectively demoted by the bully, who was allowed to carry on as normal.
To stand up, even as you are being wrongly accused and attacked, as Councillor Mohammed Farooq has done, is a brave thing to do.
Despite my radio grilling of councillors in Peterborough I retain a mutual respect with the vast majority, right across the political spectrum.
When councillor Farooq reached out to me and told his story, I sat open-mouthed and in complete silence (which is unusual for me). It sounded like an Eastenders plotline, the twists, the turns, the coercion, and the deceit.
He recounted the various, vicious campaigns that had been undertaken to undermine and discredit him over the last two years, the terrible group messages, and the most recent plot to fake evidence of his collaboration with other political parties.
All of this done with one intention in mind; To force him out of the Tory group and remove a threat to the leader, Wayne Fitzgerald. It is appalling behaviour.
As we sat down to record our video interview, I could see, etched on his face, the terrible toll the last two years had taken on him.
A man, already suffering from Colitis/Crohns, a long-term condition of the bowel, made worse by the constant stress created by those in his own party.
Now here he was, worrying about chest pains, which coincided with the arrival of falsified allegations of collusion with opposition parties and his unwarranted suspension.
Listening to Farooq brought tears to my eyes. I understand why people are saying we should speak out but it's VERY difficult. I literally just came off a phone call from my GP who has called me in again over concerns about my health. When will this stop? https://t.co/IUVHFoEPf6
— Cllr Julie Stevenson (@CllrJulieS) June 7, 2023
His family have suffered too, watching their father, their husband, go through all this pain and suffering, whilst all the time trying to do his best for constituents in Hargate and Hempstead.
Farooq talked from the heart in our video, and I could almost sense the relief, as he unburdened himself of the hurt, and the suffering during our conversation.
At times it was emotional and at times powerful, but always believable.
Other councillors have now also come forward to support his story and it is up to Peterborough City Council to fully investigate and ensure that systems are put in place to ensure councillors are properly protected in future.
Bullies should never be allowed to win.
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