Pilot loses £110,000 whistleblowing Employment Tribunal claim

MoJA pilot has lost his claim in the Employment Tribunal after it was found that he had been dismissed because of his conduct, and not because he had made a protected disclosure (also known as “whistleblowing”) to his employer.

Captain Graham Howard, 63, worked for Blink Limited as a pilot, and then chief training captain and chief pilot, until he was dismissed last year for complaining to a friend at the Civil Aviation Authority about the actions of another pilot at Blink Limited, Captain Paul Horrocks.

Although the normal procedure in making a protected disclosure  is to inform your employer directly of any unlawful or illegal conduct (unless there are exceptional circumstances, Captain Howard informed Frank Zubier, an official at the Civil Aviation Authority, that Captain Horrocks was flying erratically and that he had potentially committed a criminal offence by flying a damaged plane without first obtaining clearance.

After making the disclosure to the Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Howard was subsequently disciplined and dismissed for the manner in which he had made the protected disclosure, with officials at Blink Limited stating that he should have made an internal report of his complaint first, and not try and enlist Mr Zubier in getting Captain Horrocks dismissed.

After being dismissed, Captain Howard brought an Employment Tribunal claim against Blink Limited, claiming that his dismissal had been automatically unfair as he alleged that he had been dismissed because he had made the protected disclosure to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Captain Howards’ Employment Tribunal hearing went ahead earlier this year, with Captain Howard and Cameron Ogden (the managing director and co-founder of Blink Limited) giving evidence, among other people. Captain Horrocks claimed in his evidence that he had made a protected disclosure to the Civil Aviation Authority and that he had been dismissed by Mr Ogden at Blink Limited because of this. However, Mr Ogden stated in his evidence in defending the claim that he had been concerned about Captain Howard’ erratic attendance at the company, that Captain Howard had refused to retrain Captain Horrocks after concerns had been raised, and that he had also been concerned that Captain Howard had been drinking alcohol on company premises.

The Employment Tribunal ruled in Blink Limited’s favour in the claim, rejecting Captain Howard’s claim for £110,000 in compensation as a result of his dismissal.

Captain Howard stated after judgment had been given that he found the ruling to be “perverse” and that he would be discussing the matter with his legal team. However, he stated that he would not be appealing the decision.