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15.07.2005 Diaspora News

Council official hits back

THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK)

A North council official, suspended from his 60,000-a-year job for his part in a people-smuggling operation, last night vowed to take his employers to a tribunal if he is sacked.

Head of Social Inclusion at Newcastle City Council Bright Oduro-Kwateng says he made no secret of his past conviction before being given his job.

The married father-of-three, 49, was jailed in 1998 for defrauding the Home Office by using passports in the name of dead babies to smuggle people illegally into the UK.

Last night, the council refused to comment on any aspects of Mr Oduro-Kwateng's case as it has launched an internal investigation.

Mr Oduro-Kwateng, who fled his native Ghana in 1982, was sentenced to a year in prison at Woolwich Crown Court in 1998.

Mr Oduro-Kwateng stated on his CV he had been "dismissed for misconduct" from Greenwich Council in 1998.

He claims that he was asked to explain this by the interview panel and told them of the prison sentence.

Mr Oduro-Kwateng, of Barrack Road, Newcastle, added: "I have been persecuted and hounded by one mistake I made seven years ago. I have now done nothing wrong."

Unison Newcastle branch secretary Kerry Bell, who is representing Mr Oduro-Kwateng, claimed senior members of the council had acted irresponsibly by imposing a suspension.

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