Part 52. Matthew France Bakes ‘Porky Pies’ on Facebook

Today I would like to go through Luke Preece’s four page report about Matthew France’s bad behavior which he submitted to the Human Resources department in November 2011. It certainly is an interesting document. In your time with the company did Luke ever make a special report about any other employee or teacher?

No.

What were the circumstance which led up to this special report?

  According to Luke Preece, Matthew France had posted negative comments about me on Facebook and invited other TBI teachers to add their own.

How had Luke Preece become aware of these comments?

 He told me that Scott Martin had told him about it.

What was Scott Martin’s relationship with Luke Preece?

 They had been best friends since primary school. He had followed Luke Preece to Indonesia and Luke had lined him up a job as School Manager of TBI’s biggest school.

What was the basis of Matthew France’s grievance against you which supposedly led to the Facebook outburst?

  Luke told me to send him an email which told him that he wouldn’t be renewed for 2012. He had been asked repeatedly over many weeks to indicate whether he wanted to stay in 2012 and he hadn’t done so.

What steps had you taken to ascertain Matthew France’s intentions for 2012?

 I had asked him repeatedly to tell me if he wanted to stay or not. Luke claims that he had asked him repeatedly as well.

What was Matthew’s response to your questions?

  He couldn’t tell us yet.

Coud you tell us about the deadline mentioned in the report?

  Matthew France was given a couple of months to consider his future and we had to recruit someone else if he wasn’t going to stay. Luke told me to give him a deadline too answer. I did so and the deadline had past well before I contacted Matthew.

Luke Preece says in his report that he had given Matthew France fair warning too. Was any of Matthew’s Facebook outburst directed against Luke Preece?

   I didn’t read it. I was told that it was directed exclusively against me.

Did Matthew France know that Luke Preece was your boss?

Yes, of course he did.

 Did Matthew France know that Luke had the ultimate say so in TBI recruitment issues?

Yes he would have know that. He knew he was in overall charge of schools and he had arranged the position for Matthew at TBI Kuningan in the first place.

Did Matthew disclose in his Facebook post that he had been given manyopportunities to say whether he wanted to extend?

 As I did, I never looked at his post. But I was told by other people that it he neglected to mention this crucial fact and really misrepresented the entire series of events.

In a leaked email from the 9th of November, 2011 Luke Preece wrote, “This is a teacher gone bad who has a big chip on his shoulder and wishes nothing more than to create a problem.” What do you say about this statement?

  All I know is that Matthew was given many chances to say if he wanted to extend and he declined to answer for two months. He let a deadline pass which without even speaking to me. He then acted outraged when he was told I had hired someone else.

 In the same email Luke wrote that “Cam****** had gone beyond the usual call of duty to accommodate this individual (Matthew France).” What actions was this statement referring to?

  Matthew France was a well-known trouble maker. I had been very tolerant with him and given him a lot of leeway. Knowing how much he liked to complain, I had made every effort to be considerate to him and had accommodated many of his unusual requests, even when these made life hard for me as a manager.

 What unusual requests did Matthew make?

  In the second half of 2011, Matthew said that he refused to teach company classes any longer. This was in clear breach of his contractual obligations and not a demand I had heard from any other teacher in four years with the company.

  What grounds did Matthew give for refusing to teach corporate classes?

 He felt that he had “done enough work”.

In Luke’s official report he mentions that Matthew had said, “TBI makes too much money from in-house classes” and that was his grounds for refusing to work on them. Did he raise this issue with you?

Yes, that it is exactly what he said to me.

 How did you reply to this?

I told him that TBI was a money-making business and that the public classes were also run for profit.

How did he respond to this?

He repeated that he was unwilling to let TBI make so much money from in-house classes. I didn’t intend to argue with him as he was far too temperamental and didn’t seem to be open to other people’s opinions.

You said yesterday that Matthew had often asked for overtime. Was he paid for this?

Of course. He was also determined to get the maximum possible pay increase every year. He was actually a very money-oriented teacher himself. I have no idea why he thought it was OK for him to want to make money but TBI was terrible for wanting to do the same thing. I’m aware of the contradiction but he didn’t seem to be.

It was also mentioned in one of the email leaks that Matthew France had refused to attend a staff party to celebrate the school reaching 600 students. Can you tell me your side of this?

Just that. He refused to come to the party because he didn’t think that the school should be oriented towards student numbers. This was really odd to me as one of his more frequent complaints was that TBI never held any parties or events for teachers. When we did hold one, he refused to come anyway.

 Did he inform you directly of his reasons for refusing to attend the party?

  No he didn’t. As usual he went to Luke Preece and Luke told me his concerns.

You said yesterday that Luke Preece had said that he was telling Matthew to come to you directly with his concerns. How do you reconcile that statement with Matthew continuing to go to Luke Preece to protest against parties and so on?

I presume that Luke Preece was misleading me. It was clearly not the case.

I have heard that this party was delayed for a couple of weeks. How and why did this happen?

Luke Preece requested that I delay the party because we had 600 ‘active students’ but not 600 ‘paid students’.

Who was it who introduced the ‘active student’ count into TBI Jakarta?

 It was Luke Preece himself.

Did he revert to the ‘paid student’ count at any other time in 2011?

Nope.

Why did the party eventually go ahead?

I got the student assistants to chase up late payments and we got to 600 paid students within 2 weeks. There actually were 600 students in the school, they were just a week or two behind in their payments.

I received an anonymous email from a self-proclaimed TBI Kuningan teacher who said that the party was cancelled because your organization was a shambles and you really only had 400 students. How do you respond to this claim?

They clearly don’t know what they are talking about. The party was held two weeks later when we reached 600 paid students. It is absolutely normal that a percentage of students don’t pay right on the first day of the month. Luke Preece knows this.

So the notion that there were only 400 students was false information somebody has been spreading?

 The lowest the school ever reached during my time there was the week after I came back from Sudirman after Wati was removed. There were only 470 students in that week. Within six months it was over 600.

What conclusions do you draw about Matthew refusing to attend the party and Luke postponing it after changing the way student numbers are counted?

Matthew was clearly a saboteur causing problems. Luke Preece says this in his report too. In hindsight, I believe the two of them were working hand in hand all along. I do not believe Matthew was really unhinged or deranged, as Luke called him in his emails. I think he was causing problems on purpose.

What was the outcome of the Human Resources investigation of Matthew France and the Facebook incident?

Matthew was made to write a written apology to me.

Did he do it?

Yes.

We have leaked an email where Luke Preece lobbied Mariam to fire Matthew France without paying out his contract. What do you make of that document?

That was an idea that Luke Preece floated. I was the one who pointed out to him that the contract didn’t allow for that to happen. I thought it was far too inflammatory and did not support this plan.

Did Luke make this recommendation known to any of the teachers or even Matthew himself?

Not that I am aware of.

Luke mentions in his report that Matthew France applied for School Manager of TBI Kuningan at one pont. When did this happen?

He applied for it at the same time as I did after Chris Needham was fired.

Luke mentions in his report that Matthew was upset that you became School Manager and he didn’t. Were you aware of this?

Yes in a general way. Luke told me.

In his emails about Matthew France, Luke Preece calls him ‘an asshole’, ‘a wanker’, ‘a dickhead’ and ‘a little school girl’. Was this sort of abusive language a common part of Luke’s emails?

It wasn’t common in his work emails, but it certainly didn’t surprise me as he always spoke this way about TBI teachers and managers in private.

What did you make of this way of talking about his colleagues? Didn’t it strike you as inappropriate and unprofessional?

I think I became desensitized to it because he was constantly talking about our mutual boss, Mariam, in these kind of terms. It was completely normal for him to express himself this way.

I remember Luke saying to me that he had told Ibu Tuti that Matthew France was a nutter who sat in his cheap ‘kos’eating nothing but cheap ‘gorengan’ and speculating that this unhealthy lifestyle might have made him unbalanced. What do you say to these comments?

When I was school manager, I avoided making personal comments about teacher’s lifestyles or diets. It just didn’t seem appropriate.

How would Luke Preece have known that Matthew France survived on a diet of ‘cheap gorengan’?

 I have no idea. I have no idea whether it is true or not and I don’t see why it should have concerned me.

Was it usual for Luke to divulge these kinds of personal details about teachers?

Not really. Often he didn’t even know the names of TBI teachers and staff, so why he knew so much about Matthew France’s life and eating habits is a mystery to me.

So just to summarize, Matthew France’s claims that he was told he wouldn’t be renewed for 2012 by email, which he posted on his Facebook account, were lies?

Yes they were. He had been told several times to respond in person by both me and Luke Preece if he wanted to stay and he had said that he probably wasn’t interested- not even at working for another TBI school. He had been given weeks and weeks of warning and had been asked to get back to us by a certain date, which he let pass without a word. There had been numerous face to face conversations that we need to hire someone else if he was leaving and so his comments that I had dumped this on him by email were false, misleading and libelous. His statements were factually wrong on several different points, all of which misrepresented my actions and motives, and yet Matthew pretended to be outraged at how I had mistreated him! In reality, he is willing to slander people for personal gain; his behaviour would clearly be actionable as libel in the United Kingdom. It was him who had mistreated me by lying about the entire process of consultation and discussions we had gone through. Matthew France might now complain that we are slandering his name, but this man told lies about me on Facebook and blackened my reputation deliberately and he hasn’t ever had the decency to apologize for his disgraceful dishonesty.

So Matthew pretended that he had suddenly been told by email that he was going to be dumped by TBI, “after three years of service”, when he had been consulted several times, face to face, by two different managers over many weeks and he had indicated that he was very unlikely to want to work for TBI Kuningan or any other branch anyway?

That’s correct. He had also been told we would hire someone else if he still couldn’t give us a definite answer by a certain date. He had been consulted for weeks and weeks on this matter and he pretended the decision was sprung on him.
What was the response of his friends to the baseless claims of mistreatment by France on Facebook?
They called me an asshole and a slimy prick. Matthew France gave false information which incited people to abuse and defame me based on his misinformation.

Would you agree then with Luke Preece’s report that Matthew France had an agenda to damage you by using libel and slander?
It is very clear why France made these statements. He was inciting anger and hatred by telling lies. He got exactly the response he was looking for. He was lying about me all the time and generating resentment. It is clear in retrospect he was working hand in hand with Luke Preece. But even apart from that angle, he was lying again and again about me specifically in 2011. His intentions are obvious. He was trying to damage me personally. All of his lies were aimed at one goal- damaging my reputation as a manager. Luke Preece wrote it in his email to Tuti, the Head of HR. It’s very clear to me too.

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