Stop the war in Ukraine!

Stop the War Coalition organised a protest at Brighton’s Clock Tower in support of Ukraine yesterday, Sunday 06 March. One of the organisers, Paddy O’Keefe, said he was very concerned about the threat of a “nuclear holocaust.” He said: “The bombing of the nuclear plant, it’s the first time a nuclear installation has been exposed to battlefield conditions and been bombed. It is interesting, Stop the War has been criticised. It is hypocritical of UK politicians to complain about the protests. Keir Starmer said we were either ‘naïve’ or ‘facilitating Putin.’”

Nicky Brennan who is now an Independent Councillor for East Brighton hosted the event. She read out a statement from Stop the War Coalition saying the war in Ukraine was a disaster for the people of Ukraine. “We demand the withdrawal of all Russian troops.” She said the coalition also opposes NATO expansion and sanctions that will affect ordinary Russian people.

Jake Easby-Robinson from the Peace and Environment Centre spoke about the importance of community. He is a Peace volunteer and he said: “Communities are torn apart and pitted against each other. We see each other and communicate with each other. When communities lose their role models, it is difficult to rebuild them.”

He said Ukrainians do not want to fight each other but there are factions from previous conflicts. “Communities have to have role models.” He said there is millions of displaced people in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan etc. “Our government is not doing enough for refugees. We need to rebuild democracy. It’s not just what’s on our TV screens and our phones. We need to understand the root causes of the conflict.”

Jake Easby-Robinson from Brighton’s Peace Centre with Cllr Nicky Brennan

Ellen Graubart spoke of the racist element in the disproportionate media coverage of the war in Ukraine. She said: “These wars are being instigated and carried out by the imperialist agenda of the US and its little brother the UK to gain and retain control of natural resources and put in place puppet regimes around the world. The winners are the large corporations and the Military Industrial Complex, and the losers are always the ordinary people who just want a decent life and safety for their families.

“There is a huge racist element to these wars and conflicts, as countries where brown and black people live don’t rate the coverage that a white country like Ukraine is getting: note that brown and black workers and students trying to escape Ukraine are being stopped at the Polish border; apparently Eurostar is giving Ukrainian refugees free passage to the UK, while black refugees are left to drown in the Channel.

“The combination of the advance of NATO towards Russia’s borders, which the US and the West promised would not happen, against a cruel dictator with an enormous axe to grind, and who is hell-bent on defending himself against the threat to his position and as he sees it, an attack on his dignity – is bringing us nearer and nearer to midnight in terms of the possibility of a nuclear Third World War.

“There never has been a more urgent need for this insanity to stop.  There will be no winners if we descend into nuclear war.

“We are already facing one enormous threat to life on this planet with global warming. We need to stop the war more than any time in history.”

Ellen Graubart speaking in support of Ukraine
Ellen Graubart

Phil from the National Education Union (NEU) said: “We support the peace movement in Russia, the NEU solution is not more war.  The solution is diplomacy, negotiation and solidarity.  We see the missiles take off but we are not used to seeing the shells landing.  People now understand what it means to be a refugee from war.  We need to open the doors.  The invasion is an outrage.”

Andy Richards representing Unison at Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Putin is a fascist, imperialist Kleptocrat.  Unison sends solidarity to the Ukraine people and calls for Russia to withdraw its forces…

“I am proud that Unison members working at the Isle of Grain terminal refused to handle Russian ships this week as did the Unite members in New England (USA) and Orkney (Scotland).

“We offer our solidarity to the Ukranian people, to Russians courageously opposing the war, to workers taking action against the war.  We demand the UK Government open doors to Ukrainian refugees.”

Andy Robinson with protestors
Andy Robinson with Stop the War protestors

Tom Hickey from the University of Brighton UCU Union said: “We stand with the Russians who have lost their jobs and the 10,000 Russians arrested in dozens of cities for opposing the war.  Every country is entitled to fight for self-determination.

“We cannot stand for imperial power – the tiny minority that wants to justify and excuse the invasion.  There is no excuse and no justification.  We must not ourselves be silenced because an explanation is not justification.  There is a war of propaganda by politicians in this country.  We need to successfully support the Ukrainians.

“The Government says it stands for humanity in the face of Putin’s brutality.”  He reminded us that Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary said she would not take refugees from Ukraine. Mr Hickey said: “Our borders should be open for refugees from war and we should be welcoming them.”

“There is no excuse for Putin and no excuse for our leaders either. Stop the War Coalition will stop the war and the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people will stop the war.

“Notice some people still escape sanctions: Abramovich is selling his football toys.  Generalised sanctions to attack Russia will affect ordinary people in Russia.  The Tory Defence Secretary said we will go to war for weeks and months.  There is Western Imperialism by Nato as well.

“Putin said the problem in Ukraine is created by the Bolsheviks – Putin blames Lenin.  The affinity between nations recognises self-determination.  Ukraine needs to be supported.  Putin and his gang of thugs need to go.”

Tom Hickey from the University of Brighton speaking in support of Ukraine
Tom Hickey from the University of Brighton

Jeremy Weinstein from the campaign group Stand up to Racism, said his grandparents were chased out of Ukraine by the Tsar. He said: “My son is living in Slovakia.  He has just taken in a refugee. His daughter’s best friend is living in the metro sheltering from Putin’s bombs.  He said he listened to Thought for the Day on Radio Four today.  They were talking about refugees with blue eyes and blonde hair.  Back in the seventies they welcomed Eritreans, Afghans and Syrians.  We say: ‘They are welcome here.’ Let them in because they are welcome here.

“There is a Stand up to Racism March in London on Saturday March 19. Protestors will leave Brighton Station at 10.15am. There is a public meeting on Wednesday. They are welcome here.”

Jeremy Weinstein from Stand up for racism supporting Ukraine
Jeremy Weinstein from Stand Up for Racism

I spoke to a couple, one of whom was Polish. Her partner said: “She has real concerns. Where will it stop?” She addressed the crowd and said: “I am so proud of the Polish people. We don’t like refugees. You fight with France, we fight with Russia. The Ukrainian people fight now. I want to support the average person without big politics. I came here to stand with the people of Ukraine now.”

Nadia from Care for Calais gave a broader speech about the plight of refugees.  She said: “We are refugees.  Since World War Two five million Palestinians are under UN protection, there are eight million refugees from Afghanistan and Syria.  In Ukraine 10% of the population could become refugees.

“Refugees don’t start wars.  Stand up for refugees… we are slow to welcome refugees.  We turned back refugees in Calais.  Families are living in a hostel in Calais while they wait to come to the UK.  Some people from Sudan live in scraps of plastic as a home for years.

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister said: “Europeans are not refugees.  They are educated with blonde hair and blue eyes.  BAME refugees are unable to cross to Poland.  Much more needs to be done.  There is a stark difference between the main stream narrative today and refugees from earlier years.

“There are new laws to criminalise people claiming asylum.  If you arrive by Eurostar you can claim asylum in the UK.  We say all refugees are welcome here.  We want a free, safe passage from Ukraine and all other parts of the world torn apart by war.”

Polish couple speaking in support of Ukraine
Polish Couple

Jim said: “We will be leaving on the 14 March from Newhaven with a small convoy to the Hungarian border.  We will take medicine for kids and nappies.  I am so proud.  Europe is getting together to help Ukraine. We will need documentation to take kids nappies out of the country. I have never felt like a rat in a cage as much as I feel right now in the UK.”

I spoke to Emma Fairall, Estelle Barton and Andrea from Slovakia.  Andrea said: “Originally I was angry that this had been allowed to happen. We are here showing people that we care. In 1968 Russia invaded E Europe. I can’t believe it’s happening again. There was lot of disinformation in 1968, history is repeating itself.

“Putin’s advisors are lying to him because they don’t dare to tell him the truth about the resistance. He tricked young people into going to war by telling them they were doing military exercises.”

Estelle said we care about the people of Ukraine. “Peaceful protest is a good start.”

Emma Fairall, Estelle Barton and Andrea from Slovakia
Emma Fairall, Estelle Barton and Andrea from Slovakia

Archbishop of Canterbury talks to Brighton business community about leadership

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbur,y is visiting Brighton this weekend. He had breakfast with the business community and gave his reflections on leadership in our times and the challenges we face today, 05 March, at St Peter’s Church.

In a speech that was both witty and self-deprecating, Mr Welby said the average member of the Church of England was a woman in her thirties who had a 50:50 chance of living in a war torn part of the world.

He said the world had changed as a result of the pandemic. He volunteered as a chaplain in a London hospital during the pandemic and said: “It’s easy to forget the fear and apprehension of two years ago.” He reminded us the NHS didn’t know anything about the virus at the beginning nor how many people would die.  He paid tribute to the NHS staff and acknowledged their courage walking into hospitals every day. He said: “We are beginning a lengthy period of change and disruption.”

Mr Welby said that scientific developments brought hope – decoding of the human genome meant that a vaccine was developed in 15 months by decoding DNA which would previously have taken ten years.

He spoke throughout his speech about the war between Russia and Ukraine – another disrupter. He said we have not faced war on European pavements since 1939 and he said it was an unprovoked war and a “war of choice”, “a deeply wicked act” and a top-down war.

Mr Welby spoke to a military strategist about ethics and how Artificial Intelligence was affecting the military. They discussed the difficulty of programming machines to have compassion and said armies need to be willing to take prisoners rather than kill the enemy. According to the UN, there are 49 conflicts in the world at the moment.

He said there will be more refugees with more refugees from Ukraine in Eastern Europe and millions more displaced because of climate change. By 2050, it is estimated there will be between 800 million to 1.2 billion refugees with many areas of habitation incapable of supporting human life when the temperature rises to 43 degrees and above.

He said there is a link between climate change and conflict: Different people will “bump into each other” more often and they will fight because they are fighting for their lives. Again, he said, hold onto technology – malaria, AIDs and the coronavirus are under control because of scientific developments.

Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

On Radio Four at the moment, Mr Welby is interviewing interesting people in a series of programmes. He met Tony Blair who said the difference between countries that prosper and those that don’t is governance and leadership, not natural resources.

He contrasted the leadership of Russia with Ukraine and said President Zelensky is very honest, like Churchill, about the depth of the threat there is. Leaders need to be courageous and take personal risks. Mr Welby said in the Christian tradition there is an acknowledgement of failure and sinfulness which should lead to transparency.

He mentioned John F Kennedy’s humiliation at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba as a lesson for the president not to surround himself with ‘yes men.’ He said: “Cuba instilled challenge, candid debate, diversity and courage.”

As a leader himself, Mr Welby starts by recognising: “I am a sinner and since I am a sinner, I am going to get it wrong.” Tony Blair once said to Alistair Campbell: “The papers say I am surrounded by ‘yes men’, where are they?” The Archbishop said he looks for people who are cleverer than him. He said: “Leadership must involve acknowledgement of one’s weakness, challenge, courage, risk-taking and imagination… A safe pair of hands becomes elegant management of decline. Surround yourself with people who challenge you.”

He invited the business leaders to look at the pattern of Jesus. “Jesus did not sin. He offers freedom from guilt.” He said God brings this pure, true gift of his son to humanity: “The Lord is God who knows every part of us. It is the measure of Jesus that he engaged with people whom he loved and served. It was servant leadership. It’s a pattern of sacrifice. President Zelensky is prepared to put his life on the line.”

Recently, Mr Welby visited Pakistan where a peace centre was blown up killing 60 children and 90 adults. The residents are building a reconciliation centre there. He said: “This is God… don’t be impatient, be curious. I am insatiably curious.”

He encouraged us to reimagine the context where there is difference and disagreement without hatred and conflict. Is Russia a separate country from Ukraine? “The wickedness is the armed force instead of discussion and dialogue. Leadership is the greatest challenge we face in the next generation.”


Questions and Answers

When asked what was the biggest risk, facing the Church, he said: “The Church needs to risk her money. We are not a poor Church. The risk is to live as if Jesus lives… loving one another. Strength and resilience come from Jesus Christ… We must serve those we disagree with.”

Andy Winter who is the Chief Executive of Brighton Housing Trust, a homeless charity in Brighton and Hove said: “My thanks to everyone who has prepared this lovely spread. But I couldn’t help but notice as I arrived that homeless people were being served breakfast from a kiosk in the car park. What does the church need to do to ensure that those in the car park are more comfortable in the four walls of a church than those of us enjoying this breakfast?”

Mr Welby said: “The Church needs to go out to them and listen, not trying to make them, who the Church wants them to be. He said there was a homeless man in Crawley who the Church was trying to help and they told the Archbishop they got it “totally wrong” at first. They tried to get the man off the streets before he was ready. He said: “Start with respect and listen, set the tone… God offers us choice and free will. I come from a family of alcoholics… My father died of alcohol, my Mum has been teetotal for 50 years. It’s your choice. I can’t stop you drinking. I can help you but you have to stop.”

Martha is an Associate Vicar in Eastfield. She said: “Representation of ethnic minorities is not great. How can we recruit more people who are minority ethnic?”

Mr Welby said: “I recognise that the Church has had opportunities and missed them. We analyse the problems well and know that we need to be more inclusive of BAME people, people with disabilities and physical disabilities and women. We recognise we have gone wrong.

We need to engage alternative selection panels where clergy have BAME backgrounds. We need people to be willing to ask questions. We should encourage applications from BAME people and understand that the application forms will look very different, they will have a profound respect for the panel …” He then asked the question why BAME applicants were getting on shortlists and not being appointed? He mentioned Colossians where, “all are one in Christ. When we are not recognising diversity, it’s about sin. We are sinning when we do not appoint people from ethnic backgrounds.”

Justin Welby with Business leaders

Mr Welby was then asked a question by a young person facing adversity with few Christian friends: What should she do?

He said: “We should train missionaries in our own faith to know they are infinitely valued by God” and their identity is secure. He mentioned Michael Ramsay who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1960s. He was once heard banging his head on his desk in Lambeth Palace. When a Chaplain went to see if he was OK, he said: ‘I hate the Church of England.’

First we need to train young people as missionaries of today, not the future, young people need to know they are loved by Jesus Christ. Otherwise it’s the ‘Book of Laws’, who wants another one of them?”

Elizabeth James who is a GP asked about how to deal with conflict in the workplace. The Archbishop said: “We are working on the ‘Together Project’ with Brendan Cox, husband of the (late) Jo Cox. We have a working group to help address fracture and incapacity in the workplace to deal with difference.

I interviewed Clare Moriarty, who was the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU. She took over early in 2019. On the same day as her mother, she was diagnosed with cancer and then made redundant early in 2020. She is now running the CAB.

She is a Christian and in her workplace everyone would sit in small groups and recognise the ‘spitting ball of fury’ for thirty minutes every week. They would then think of next steps for thirty minutes and move forward, while recognising conflict. She was very calm, measured and very, very clear… In the military, you need sacrifice by the leader, listening undefended, good communication of why an objective matters to build ownership and the least bad use of resources.

Mayor of Brighton and Hove, Alan Robins, said he has an ambassadorial role in Brighton and Hove and he’s like a salesman. He said: “People don’t always remember what you say, they remember the way you make them feel.”

Mr Welby said his role was similar: “I came to Lambeth Palace nine years ago and the place was full of levers of power but they weren’t really connected to anything. Good leaders enable decisions to come. The character of leadership is the most important. There is a need for vulnerability and transparency. Do not pretend to be other than you are. People often forget what I said but they often remember when I say sorry.

General Slim in 1945 was involved in the Burma Campaign. His number two in command who was a field marshal, lost his leg because Slim advanced too quickly. General Slim regretted this deeply. He should have been more restrained. But he was open about his failure. I remember that story more than any other story in the book.”

Archbishop Welby will be visiting a series of community groups including refugees across Brighton and Hove during his visit this weekend.

This article was first published on Brighton and Hove News website.

Associate Director, Dr Lyfar-Cissé, takes on NHS Trust in a battle over unfair dismissal

Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé is a warrior in the fight for racial justice within the NHS. She leads the national BME network and until September 2017, she was Associate Director of Transformation at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals (BSUH) NHS Trust and chair of its BME network. She worked her way up within the trust over 34 years, first as a biochemist before becoming Associate Director in 2014.

She is now locked in a legal battle with her boss, Marianne Griffiths, who will be retiring from the trust, now called University Hospitals Sussex NHS Trust (UH Sussex), this summer. A reconsideration hearing of the Employment Tribunal was held last Tuesday and Wednesday, 22 and 23 February.

At the centre of this dispute is the question of whether, as the newly appointed Chief Executive from 01 April 2017, Ms Griffiths, had the legal right to revisit a disciplinary procedure that had already concluded in 2016 in order to increase the sanction of a final written warning (which was accepted by the BSUH Board) to dismiss Dr Lyfar-Cissé.

Ms Griffiths told the Employment Tribunal that her decision flowed” from Ms Cashman’s disciplinary investigation outcome, following another investigation by The Honourable Mrs Justice Hill and Mr. Abbi Alemoru. She cited Some Other Substantial Reason (SOSR) to justify her dismissal decision on the basis that the charge of discrimination, harassment and victimisation by the doctor, was incompatible with her role and also meant she failed the fit and proper person test (Regulation Five) as a senior manager.

Dr Lyfar-Cissé argued that Ms Cashman had considered her role as a senior manager in deciding her sanction of a final written warning. Therefore, Dr Lyfar-Cissé said there was no lawful process by which Ms Griffiths could increase the sanction to dismissal, because she did not agree with the outcome of a due process.

Dr Lyfar-Cissé also argued that the true reason for her dismissal, and all the actions short of dismissal, including the application of Regulation Five; was because of her previous employment tribunal claims, which were protected acts. She believes her dismissal was premeditated.

Earlier Tribunals had upheld two of the doctor’s claims of racism and victimisation against the trust and the trust had also settled a third claim ‘out of court’ whilst accepting liability for racial discrimination and victimisation of the doctor.

In March 2019 the Employment Tribunal found that Dr Lyfar-Cissé’s dismissal was fair. Her appeal against the Judgment was stayed by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) to first allow the reconsideration hearing to take place.

Dr Lyfar-Cissé

Last Tuesday at the reconsideration hearing, the employment tribunal heard that new evidence had emerged. Ms Griffiths said, at a roundtable meeting of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) on 08 July 2019, that previous employment tribunals against the Trust had contributed to a “toxic”, “extremist, anti-organisational” BME structure at UH Sussex that had to be challenged.

HSJminute of the meeting states that Ms Griffiths said upon arrival in her post as CEO in 2017: “There was also a need to lead from the front: the trust had to do some ‘brave things’ which led to employment tribunals but was a signal to the organisation that they were taking the issues seriously.”

In 2019 Ms Caroline Browne, on behalf of the members of the BME network, brought a separate claim of victimisation against Ms. Griffiths’ because of her comments in the HSJ article above. Ms Griffiths’ Counsel, Mr Kibling, stated in his written submissions that her: ‘reference to the Employment Tribunal cases in the HSJ published minute were specifically in relation to Dr Lyfar-Cissé’s claims’ and not anything that Ms. Browne had done. A fact that Dr Lyfar-Cissé argued supports her claim of victimisation against Ms. Griffiths, that the real reason for her dismissal were her employment tribunal claims.

At the reconsideration hearing, Employment Judge Balogun dismissed the case. She found that Dr Lyfar-Cissé had inferred that Ms Griffiths’ reference to employment tribunals was a reference to her in the Health Service Journal minute of the meeting. She disliked the fact that the minute was not a verbatim account and was not written by Ms Griffiths.

However, she said that Mr Kibling’s written submission in the Caroline Browne case was not factual evidence, rather it was an argument put forward by the trust when defending the claim and she did not allow this evidence. The judge said there was no new evidence and no prospect that the original judgment would be overturned.

Judge Balogun said: “In light of the above, we find that there is no reasonable prospect of the original decision being overturned. The application for reconsideration is therefore dismissed.”

Dr Lyfar-Cissé said: “I have submitted an application to the Tribunal for a reconsideration of the Judgment given paragraph 11 is incorrect.  It should be amended to correctly show that Mr Kibling’s two written submissions before the Tribunal, explains it is Ms Griffiths’ reference to Employment Tribunal cases in the HSJ article, that is a reference to my Employment Tribunal claims. I intend to appeal.”

UH Sussex was approached and said: “The Trust is aware of the judgment of 23 February but has no further comment.”

Dr Lyfar-Cissé’s full appeal hearing before the EAT will commence after the reconsideration process has concluded. The appeal will decide whether Ms Griffiths had the legal right to revisit the concluded disciplinary process in order to dismiss her and whether Regulation Five did indeed apply to her role. It was BSUH’s policy that it did not apply to Dr Lyfar-Cissé’s role.

A review of Regulation Five by Tom Quark QC in 2018 ruled that whilst, directors at Board level are clearly covered by the regulation, the reference to others performing similar functions was ambiguous. He said this ambiguity could lead to NHS trusts using the test as a ‘last resort dismissal.’

Mr Quark wrote that Regulation Five was used: “as a vehicle for Trusts to have another bite of the disciplinary cherry by using the FPP (fit and proper person) test as an add-on measure to remove individuals on the ground that they were not FPP compliant, after disciplinary proceedings had been concluded with only a warning or suspension.”