Independent Inquiry


In 2022 an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within TSSA, relating to TSSA officials and others employed by the union, was established. The inquiry was led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC. The report was delivered and published on 8 February 2023 and immediately accepted in full by the union's Executive Committee.

The Crisis Management Oversight Group is now meeting regularly to keep oversight of our progress against Baroness Kennedy's recommendations. You can find a progress tracker below which will be updated regularly.

This page is dedicated to progress updates. You will also find the full report, our report tracker, details of a support line, the original terms of reference, a Q&A and more information and resources.

Kennedy Report progress tracker

Kennedy Action Log August 2023



Conley report tracker August 2023



Kennedy and Conley Report Tracker July 2023



Kennedy Report Tracker 23 May 2023



Kennedy Report progress update 22 March 

We’re approaching six weeks since the Kennedy Report was received by the EC and published to members, staff and the public. 

Progress continues to be made on the recommendations of both the Kennedy and Conley reports. 

Since the last update just over a fortnight ago, the following progress has been made: 

Peter Pendle has started as Interim (Joint) General Secretary. Peter spent his first week prioritising meetings with key stakeholders, including staff reps and all staff. He also met with Helena Kennedy KC, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak, the union’s solicitors, auditors, Interim President and Treasurer, and GFTU, among others. 

Peter has outlined his commitment to implementing the recommendations in the Kennedy and Conley reports. He will lead a change management team from the top and his intention is to bring in external experience to that group. Peter has confirmed that staff representation will be included in the change management team, and he has also established weekly meetings with the TSSA staff union reps. 

Peter will be leading a review of staff workloads and responsibilities. All staff will input to the generation of a Strategic Plan for the Association, focused on being an effective trade union for members across the rail, transport and travel industries and growing the membership.

In his first week in post, Peter has brought leadership, stability and accountability to the Association and with it a sense of calm among staff.

In other areas, the Terms of Reference for the forensic accountants has been agreed and their work on investigating the union’s accounts is underway. 

Trauma support provision for staff has been secured and is being rolled out, with more information being shared directly with staff this week. The support line remains an important resource for anyone affected by the issues in and around the reports. 

The support line is free, confidential and independent and can be accessed on: 

Freephone: 0808 801 0754 (this number will not show up on bills) 

 The investigations into suspended members of staff have started and are being conducted independently by a Barrister. Anyone wishing to provide evidence to the investigation can approach the team via Paul Adams on: or 0207 269 0305.

The EC is next due to meet on 28 March.

Kennedy Report Progress Update 

2 March 2023

Three weeks on from the Kennedy Report publication, and almost three weeks since the EC received the Conley Report, further progress has been made on implementing the recommendations.

TSSA’s Executive Committee met on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, taking key decisions to guide the union through next steps. An outline of progress is given below.

People issues were identified in both the Kennedy and Conley reports as needing urgent attention, with a range of related recommendations.

Two HR professionals have been identified and started work with TSSA this week. Jackie Pyne is an experienced HR professional working with the Association one day a week. Simon Stone is an HR professional with significant experience in change management, leadership, and TUPE situations. Specific workstreams will be communicated to staff directly.

The EC has assumed responsibility for staffing matters and that remains unchanged.

Concerns around financial wrongdoing and lack of transparency regarding contracts and payments have been identified.

TSSA’s assets and accounts have been secured. New signatories have been checked, verified and approved by the union’s financial advisors this week, with old signatories removed.

A forensic accounting team from HFW Accountants met with the Interim President, Interim Treasurer and Finance Manager to discuss scope of work this week. This will include scrutinising contracts and use of funds.

The Interim President has met with the union’s commercial property advisors in relation to an outstanding payment from HS2.

The reports identified a need for training for EC, staff and reps.

Governance training for the EC will start at the end of this month (March 2023). It is being provided by Unions 21.

Going forwards, governance training will be a mandatory part of induction for new EC members and refresher training will also be required and provided on a regular basis for existing EC members.

TSSA is progressing dates for sexual harassment training for the EC and all staff, to be provided via the TUC.

The Kennedy report identified a need for fresh, external leadership experience.

A potential candidate was identified by TSSA GMB staff reps and was approached by the EC and offered the role of Interim General Secretary. The candidate considered and declined the role. Another candidate has been identified and approached. Other external candidates with leadership experience are also being considered and approached for potential roles.

The Kennedy Report recommended that a Crisis Administration team be set up. This may now be called a Change Management Team and the set-up meetings are taking place this week. It will include staff and EC representation. The Interim Treasurer is leading on this piece of work. She is also leading on work related to staff wellbeing.

Conley Feedback
Professor Hazel Conley, the author of the University of West of England report into Equality Policy and Practice in TSSA, attended (via video link) this week’s EC meeting. She gave a timeline of the report, including when it was submitted and the response she received. The EC found the response given by TSSA at the time (unknown to them previously) concerning as it was defensive and dismissive of the findings. The EC has subsequently – upon finally receiving a copy of the report – accepted the report findings and recommendations in full.

Professor Conley said that TSSA and our staff do some really fantastic work for our members and staff. She encouraged the EC to remember that and not lose sight of it amongst the challenging work being currently undertaken.

Correspondence regarding the proposed merger with GMB has been exchanged between the Certification Officer and both unions.

Talks with the GMB are scheduled to recommence w/c 20 March.

Further information will be published on the TSSA website shortly.

A Special Delegate Conference (SDC) regarding the merger proposals will take place towards the end of April. This will be online only.

We'd like to remind people that a confidential support line is available - full details lower down this page.

Kennedy Report progress update 

23 February 2023

It’s been two weeks since the Kennedy Report was published and the Executive Committee have been very busy making progress on implementing the recommendations. A number of significant steps were taken in the first 48 hours and were communicated on Friday 10 February. A further update was sent on Friday 17 February in News on the Go (the weekly member’s newsletter). 

Some updates have been delayed by the need for legal advice and staff absences.

Please find below further updates about activities and progress regarding the Kennedy Report.

  1. A meeting has taken place with the TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak and TSSA’s Interim President and Treasurer. The TUC have offered moral support and training courses.
  2. Two HR professionals have been identified to assist us to change the culture and will be starting next week (w/c 27 February).
  3. Urgent action was taken to protect access to the union’s accounts and assets. As a result of this, interim arrangements will need to be introduced for any new spend, contracts and claims. This is being worked through.
  4. Manuel Cortes and Luke Chester have been dismissed by reason of gross misconduct.
  5. Unions 21 have agreed to deliver Governance training. This will be implemented as soon as possible.
  6. Progress has been made on determining the Crisis Administration Team (CAT).  
  7. A tracker has been started with all the recommendations from both Baroness Kennedy KC and Professor Hazel Conley to be worked through.
  8. HFW accountants have agreed to do an audit and deep dive into TSSA’s accounts. This will commence as soon as possible.
  9. A potential Interim GS has been contacted.
  10. The EC has assumed direct responsibility for staffing matters.
  11. Lots of meetings and engagement between the EC, staff and staff union reps have been taking place as part of better engagement and further meetings are scheduled. 
  12. The UWE Conley Report has been published and sent to staff, branches and SOGs directly.
  13. TSSA has met with senior representatives of RMT for an informal conversation about working together. The GMB was informed about this meeting beforehand. The EC will be considering this further along with correspondence at their next meeting.
  14. The GMB merger process is continuing. Formal talks are expected to resume shortly.

Work is ongoing on implementing the recommendations of both reports and further updates will be communicated.

Inquiry update 10 February 2023

Last year the TSSA commissioned a report by Baroness Kennedy KC to examine allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within the TSSA. That report, having been published, and serious concerns having been raised in it, the TSSA is committed to take comprehensive, considered and meaningful action to address its findings. Given the seriousness and complexity of the findings, this will take deep and careful consideration of the way forward.

To enable the necessary further investigation and decisions to be made, the TSSA has suspended all five senior members of staff named in the report by Baroness Kennedy KC This includes former General Secretary, Manuel Cortes.

In light of the numerous recommendations made by Lady Kennedy’s report which the union’s Executive Committee (EC) has accepted in full, steps will now be taken by the EC to put in a place an administration to lead the union at this critical point, as directed by the report, with the aim of implementing widespread cultural change.

The Union is aware that, as is always the case when bullying and harassment has occurred, that there will have been victims of such conduct. The Union wishes to apologise unreservedly to all of those who have been bullied, harassed or affected, and is committed to understanding what has happened to them, and to take all appropriate steps in response.

This process is ongoing but is expected to include various stakeholders - including members of the EC, members of TSSA staff, as well as external figures.

The union’s President and Treasurer stood down on the day the Report was published – as recommended by Baroness Kennedy KC. They have been replaced by interim post-holders.

The EC was made aware on Wednesday 8th February following the production of the Kennedy Report that Manuel Cortes, the union’s former General Secretary, was still in the employment of the union. This was not previously known to the EC.

In light of the report, the importance of which the EC takes very seriously, and to ensure that full, appropriate, and effective steps are taken arising from its findings, the former General Secretary has been suspended whilst matters are investigated.

On Thursday 9 February significant time and effort was put into staff welfare and reaching out to all current members of TSSA staff in the wake of the Kennedy report publication.

The Interim President and Interim Treasurer led a meeting of all staff where they outlined the views of the EC, expressed solidarity and sympathy with staff and offered ongoing support. They repeated the unanimous view of the EC in accepting the report and its recommendations and commitment to implementing them.

Independent legal advice was also sought and delivered to the EC regarding the implementation of the report’s recommendations.

Report Published

8 February 2023

The independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within TSSA has now concluded.

The inquiry was led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and her report has been published. It was given to the TSSA’s Executive Committee on Wednesday 8 February 2023 and shared directly with TSSA staff and members. The report is published in full on this webpage.

The EC accepts the report and its recommendations.

The report makes difficult reading and highlights serious issues that the union needs to face up to and tackle.

TSSA wants to thank everyone who came forwards during the inquiry to give evidence, and we also thank Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and her team for their work.

We know that coming forward may have been incredibly difficult. The contributions will help TSSA to address failings, and become better, safer, and more inclusive.

As a union, TSSA fights for equality, fairness, and social justice for all, regularly winning on equality issues for our members. But it is clear from this report that our union has not followed the values we aspire to for our members.

The report says that sweeping change is required within TSSA. We recognise that change is needed and that action must be taken to urgently address failings. TSSA is committed to implementing widespread change. We are seeking support from the GMB union and we hope to learn from their experience in tackling institutional issues, addressing head-on the challenges and driving through cultural and institutional change.

The Kennedy Report is published in full in the interests of transparency and for all those with an interest in TSSA to have full access to the information contained within it. As mentioned above, it makes difficult reading, but TSSA will not suppress or shy away from the criticisms levelled at the union.

The union’s Executive Committee will prioritise the work needed arising from the Kennedy Report. The union will take time to thoroughly understand the report and its recommendations, and an action plan will be formulated and implemented. With immediate effect, the President and Treasurer have stood down and an Interim President and Interim Treasurer have been appointed.

Under the guidance of the EC, TSSA will act on the report’s recommendations and is committed to achieving the change that is required to secure the confidence of members, staff and especially women across our movement and industries.

Kennedy Report

The Kennedy Report February 2023




Confidential support line and online service

A dedicated support line for people who are seeking support and information in relation to sexual harassment or bullying is available.

The support line is provided by independent charity, the Survivors Trust. The service is free, confidential and entirely independent.

Freephone: 0808 801 0754 (this number will not show up on bills)


The line is open during the hours below. If the line is busy, and during out of hours, a secure and confidential voicemail service allows callers to leave messages and requests for a call back. Calls are returned at the start of the next shift. The email service operates during the same hours as the phone line.

Monday- Thursday: 10am-12.30pm, 1.30pm-5.30pm & 6pm-8pm
Friday: 10am-12.30pm & 1.30pm-5.30pm
Saturday: 10am-1pm
Sunday: 5pm-8pm

Support offered

The helpline provides callers with emotional support and information relating to the circumstances and experiences they share from fully trained and supported call handlers.

Who is the support line for?

Callers may be victims, alleged perpetrators, or family members, friends or colleagues of someone who has been victimised.


The Survivors Trust policy and practice is to maintain confidentiality at all times. Callers can use the service with confidence that their identity will not be revealed, nor any information shared which may identify them.

The only exception is if there is a serious concern either for the caller themselves or for someone at risk. In any situation where a safeguarding concern arises, call handlers will seek to gain the callers permission to contact relevant external agencies to protect the safety of the caller and any others deemed to be at immediate risk.


An independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within TSSA, relating to TSSA officials and others employed by the union, is being conducted.

The inquiry was established after allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within TSSA were made in May 2022.  

It is right and proper that this is an external and independent process. TSSA recognises that there should be no tolerance of sexual harassment, bullying or discrimination in any workplace, including in our own. TSSA established the inquiry following advice from the TUC regarding independent investigators and their expectations in line with TUC rules and processes.

TSSA is a full and willing participant in the inquiry. The inquiry is entirely independent of TSSA and the TUC.

On this page you will find:

  • terms of reference
  • contact details of how to get in touch with the inquiry team
  • who is leading the inquiry
  • timeline
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
  • updates

January 2023: the information-gathering stage of the inquiry has now ended.

Chair of the Inquiry

The inquiry is wholly independent and is led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC and managed day to day by her associate Laura Harrison. 

Terms of Reference

Below are the terms of reference as set out by the inquiry team.


To investigate and report on the allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within TSSA, relating to TSSA officials and others employed by the union, reported within the Reel News video and alleged in other media coverage.

To examine the nature of settlement agreements used within the union with particular reference to their use in relation to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying allegations.

To assess the effectiveness of actions taken by TSSA in response to any identified reports of sexual harassment and/or sexual assault, discrimination and bullying.

To assess TSSA policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying and the manner in which these have been implemented.

To assess processes in place to prevent workplace sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying:

  • training provided to managers and other relevant staff.
  • the mechanisms for raising complaints relating to sexual harassment and levels of confidence in these mechanisms by those covered by the policies.
  • the use of non-disclosure agreements when addressing complaints of sexual harassment.

To consider the steps taken to ensure that those reporting sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying are supported and not victimised during or after the process.

To look at the wider issue of the culture of the union, particularly insofar as it is experienced by women.

To make recommendations for improvement on the above.

Contributing to the Inquiry

As part of the information-gathering stage, TSSA staff, officials and members were invited to contact the Chair of the Inquiry, Baroness Helena Kennedy KC with any information which may be of assistance in the conduct of this inquiry. Baroness Kennedy was also open to receiving reports from women and women’s groups in the wider trade union movement. 

The information gathering stage is now over. A report will be published shortly.

Helena’s team can be contacted on: 

Inquiry timeline

Helena Kennedy KC was commissioned over summer 2022 and the Inquiry launched publicly in September 2022. The report was delivered and published in February 2023.


January 2023: the information-gathering stage of the inquiry has now ended.

Frequently Asked Questions

The inquiry was established after allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within TSSA were made in May 2022.

TSSA is a full and willing participant in the inquiry. TSSA established the investigation following support from the TUC in May 2022.