That icon of all historic icons, the Tower of London, has been dragged into an employment tribunal, of all places.
The former Governor, Major-General Keith Cima has claimed unfair dismissal, which has lead to a string of accusations and counter-accusations in the industrial tribunal. It has laid open management concerns about how the local social club was managed and “yeoman warders accepting tips and being paid for tours”. Major-General Cima claimed cannabis was also being grown, private tours to see the Crown Jewels were arranged without permission and accommodation rented out to young female tourists. Much of this is disputed by Historical Royal Palaces (HRP), the company that runs five such venues, including Hampton Court.
Claims that the former Governor accused HRP of “prostituting itself” – a claim which he denies – over payment of £60,000 to a Beefeater who was dismissed for bullying do little to enhance the image of what is one of the key attractions to the London tourist trail. The woman who was allegedly bullied, the first-ever female Beefeater, claims that she became so stressed by the payout to her alleged tormentor that her hair began to fall out. It seems the post-modern world has embedded itself in the Tower and, the other detail that is more worrying, all the figures in this drama are former members of our armed services.
It seems sad that an institution as ancient as the Tower should air its dirty linen in public like this. I feel that it takes away the aura and dignity of the establishment – the magic of it if you like. If HRP are found to have wrongly dismissed Major-General Cima, the payout could exceed £300,000. Such a shame that they couldn’t deal with it in the traditional way – “Off with their heads!”