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'Sacked' Agency investigator calls on Meacher for support

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The Environment Agency this week defended its decision to strip board member Alan Dalton of his powers to investigate workplace health and safety issues in the north east.

Dalton claimed in a report to environment minister Michael Meacher - seen by NCE this week - that he was 'sacked' as the Environment Agency's north east England representative.

Meacher appointed Dalton to the Agency's board in 1999 in response to concerns about health and safety at the Agency.

Dalton is a former senior lecturer in safety, health and environmental issues at South Bank University and was health and safety co-ordinator for the Transport & General Workers Union.

'For taking up serious employee health and safety issues - like stress and bullying - I have been sacked by (Environment Agency chairman) Sir John Harman from an important part of my job, ' his report says.

He later told NCE: 'I need the backing of my minister which I have asked for in my report.'

An Agency spokeswoman rejected Dalton's claims. 'Alan Dalton has not been sacked. Sir John Harman, after reviewing matters over a period of time, decided that he should no longer have a particular role in relation to the North East region after appraisals found that he was not working effectively there. But he is still a full board member. He can use the forum of the board to raise issues.'

Dalton meanwhile wants Meacher to continue backing his investigations.

'I've called for him to back me more firmly. I want the power to investigate complaints from any individual from any region. I want his full backing to do that because I feel I am being victimised in my work.'

Dalton sparked controversy in 1999 by telling NCE that he was 'shocked, surprised and very disturbed' at what he perceived as a culture of bullying management at the Environment Agency (NCE 6 April 2000).

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