Whatever the truth behind the row between Theresa May and former Border Agency boss Brodie Clark, it is unlikely to come out in the constructive dismissal case Mr Clark is bringing against the government. The Home Secretary’s behaviour is probably enough to ensure that Mr Brodie wins his case on the procedure (or the lack of one) alone. The question of whether he took the decision to relax immigration controls is one the tribunal won’t need to examine.
The parallels between this and the Sharon Shoesmith case are clear. Once again, over an emotive issue and against a background of media outrage, a minister has blamed a senior public servant before waiting to hear the results of a proper investigation. Brodie Clark’s case is slightly less clear-cut than that of Sharon Shoesmith. He was not actually sacked in public but the court is likely to conclude that Theresa May’s statement to the Commons, blaming him for the relaxation of border controls, amounts to the same thing.
Sharon Shoesmith won her case against Ed Balls. The Home Office’s lawyers reckon Brodie Clark will win too. The crass behaviour of a secretary of state, and his disregard for the law, was enough to decide the Shoesmith case, so we never really found out what happened in Haringey’s social services department. Theresa May’s similarly ham-fisted handling of this row will almost certainly see Brodie Clark awarded a substantial payment before the details about who took which decisions are even discussed. As before, the public will be slightly poorer and none the wiser.