Kate Josephs partygate: Sheffield Council committee meets again but will it make a decision?

Sheffield councillors are meeting again to discuss the future of council chief executive Kate Josephs, following yet more secrecy and delay.

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 3:02 pm

Ms Josephs has been on paid leave from her £190,000-a-year role since January while Eugene Walker, a senior council officer who is normally paid around £150,000 a year, is covering for her on extra pay.

It follows Ms Josephs admitting in a statement on social media that she gathered with colleagues in the Cabinet Office for drinks to mark the end of her time as head of the government’s Covid Taskforce while restrictions were in place.

The event, which took place before she started her role in Sheffield, was detailed in the damning Sue Gray report on partygate scandals at the heart of government.

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Kate Josephs, chief executive of Sheffield Council.

When will a decision be made?

A cross-party council committee – responsible for deciding whether Ms Josephs should keep her position as chief executive following the revelations – met for the first time since the elections last Thursday.

An independent investigator examining the situation had already made their recommendations to the committee, it was reported.

However, a decision was not made and the meeting was adjourned until today, Tuesday, June 21.

It is still unknown to the public whether a decision will be taken today or delayed further as the council refuses to release information.

If the committee decides she should be dismissed, its own recommendation will be put to a vote at a private full council meeting with all 84 councillors present.

Secrecy around Kate Josephs’ party

The council brought in an external investigator, who has not been named, to report back to a cross party committee with findings to inform the decision on what should be done.

Who the investigator is, what their remit and other information is has been kept secret by the local authority.

The committee has been meeting in private to discuss the investigation, and the council said it will not share any information.

The committee comprises councillors Penny Baker, Douglas Johnson, Shaffaq Mohammed and Sioned-Mair Richards, and it is chaired by Coun Julie Grocutt.

A Freedom of Information request confirmed Sheffield Council does hold correspondence with the Cabinet Office about the event but it is withholding it, arguing that keeping it secret is in the public interest.