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Ex-council planning officer drops racism claim after out-of-court settlement
Kingston Council has reached an out-of-court settlement with a former employee who had claimed he was racially discriminated against.
But criticism has been directed at council leader Liz Green, who said she did not know about the case or the subsequent settlement.
An employment tribunal brought by former planning officer Narinder Lakhan against Nicola Smith, group manager for development control, was due to be heard on August 15, but was cancelled at the last minute after Mr Lakhan withdrew his claim.
Kingston Council confirmed Mr Lakhan had “reached agreement” with the authority, but would not comment further or say whether Mr Lakhan, from Osterley, Hounslow, was made to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
When asked last week about the case, Coun Green said she “did not know” about the tribunal or the subsequent agreement.
Kingston Conservatives leader Howard Jones said: “I would certainly want to know if somebody had left the employment of the council and was making allegations of racial discrimination against senior officers.
“I am surprised Liz Green didn’t know, and I’m surprised I didn’t know, and I shall be asking questions about that.”
Laurie South, chairman of the Kingston Labour Party, said: “If I was leader I would say that if there was something that is politically sensitive coming up, I would really want to know about it.
“You have to ask: do the Lib Dems know what’s going on? I think the answer is probably not.”
Up until last year, Mr Lakhan was the case officer in the long-running Tesco Tolworth supermarket saga.
Nicola Smith is currently on maternity leave.
In April the Surrey Comet revealed the council had paid out more than £500,000 in settlements to former employees since 2008.
Those included former director of children’s services Duncan Clark, who quit Kingston in 2012 with a year’s salary of £128,625 – days before a damning Ofsted report into his child protection department was made public.
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