How a ‘lazy, horrible’ man got glowing reference for post

Martin Warsama came highly praised when he applied for a social work job on St Helena, even though the Wass corruption inquiry later found him to be “incompetent, lazy and divisive”.

And it was no wonder that his future boss saw nothing wrong with his job reference – because she wrote it herself.

Claire Gannon was also on his interview panel.

Her involvement in appointing him revealed a flaw in SHG employment practices – since tightened up. She had “a clear conflict of interest” because they had worked closely together in the UK, says Sasha Wass QC.

The inquiry panel heard that colleagues found Martin Warsama extremely difficult to work with.

The public solicitor of the time called him “a chippy bloke who hated everyone.”

Detective Constable Veronica Judd said he was “one of the most aggressive, rude men I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. He was extremely intimidating.”

The director of health and social services told the inquiry that Mr Warsama was employed as a social work trainer “but never did any training”.

A colleague described how he and Claire Gannon would take several smoking breaks a day – lasting up to an hour.

The policy development officer for safeguarding said: “We immediately discovered that Martin was one of the most horrid people I’ve ever met… He was lazy, incompetent, and horrible.”

But Ms Gannon’s reference for him said than during ten years working with him, she found him “confident and competent” in all his roles.

“Martin has always presented as a helpful, considerate person who strives to achieve the best outcome for service users,” she wrote. “He works well as part of a team… he has a balanced approach… excellent communication skills and able to be assertive without being officious.”

The inquiry report also says he claimed a cost of living allowance for his partner and two children, but they never came to the island. A dispute arose when SHG tried to reclaim the money, the report says.

Mr Warsama’s job included training police. But the Wass report makes it clear he had a difficult relationship with officers.

In his evidence to the inquiry in February 2015, he said: “There weren’t any systems… Someone might not get a service or told go somewhere else. If I knew them I would talk to them. There didn’t seem to be a recording system. There were lots of files but no system. Just a jamboree of information.”

The report says: “Mr Warsama did nothing to rectify this situation, despite being employed to do so …it was difficult to ascertain exactly what Martin Warsama did whilst in post.”

Claire Gannon and Martin Warsama were severely criticised by the island’s Chief Justice, Charles Ekins, for the state of the evidence they supplied at an adoption hearing. It led to them being investigated to see whether they had committed perjury. A police inquiry did not find enough evidence for a prosecution.

A subsequent complaint to their professional body found no evidence of wrongdoing or of being unfit to practise.

It was Ms Gannon who leaked the confidential Lucy Faithfull Foundation report to the Daily Mail and had it published on the internet, but Mr Warsama supported allegations she made against authorities on the island – later dismissed by the Wass Inquiry.

Mr Warsama says he strongly refuted criticisms made of himself and Claire Gannon in the inquiry report, but says his lawyers have advised him not to comment until after Christmas.

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