Unfairly dismissed former council boss wins £56,000 in Employment Tribunal claim

hmctsA former council boss has won £56,000 after an Employment Tribunal found that he had been unfairly dismissed by his former employer.

An Employment Tribunal ruled last week that Worthing Borough Council must pay Mr Cliff Harrison £56,000 in compensation after he won his case for unfair dismissal against the Council.

Mr Harrison, who was formerly Head of Technical Services at Worth Borough Council, made his claim for unfair dismissal against the Council Council in 2013 after he was fired on allegations that he had been negligent in drafting a contractual agreement with NCP, a parking firm, that led to the Council have to pay £700,000 to settle the dispute after NCP launched a legal claim.

Mr Harrison’s claim came to the Southampton Employment Tribunal earlier this year, with Mr Harrison giving evidence that he had undertaken the work on the contract with NCP that had subsequently resulted in a decade-long legal battle between NCP and the Council. He asserted that the Council had failed to carry out a sufficiently thorough and fair investigation and, further, that he had not been solely responsible for the breakdown, and that he had not been negligent in undertaking his services.

Worthing Borough Council opposed Mr Harrison’s claims, arguing that Mr Harrison’s dismissal was justified and that they had followed procedure adequately.

The Southampton Employment Tribunal ruled in Mr Harrison’s favour in his claim for unfair dismissal, holding that the Council had undertaken an “unsatisfactory investigation” and that disciplinary procedures were put in place which could have potentially undermined the appeal process.

The Employment Tribunal awarded £56,000 in compensation to Mr Harrison, with that sum comprised of past and future loss of earnings, loss of his right to claim unfair dismissal, and his basic award. However, the Employment Tribunal also ruled that any compensation awarded to Mr Harrison should be reduced by 50% to account for Mr Harrison’s contribution to his own dismissal.

Mr Harrison has not commented on the outcome of the Employment Tribunal claim.

A spokesman for Adur and Worthing Council stated that the councils were “disappointed” by the ruling but that the councils had “substantially improved” their processes since the incident with Mr Harrison.

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented: “Employers should be extremely careful to undertake reasonable, fair and thorough investigation, disciplinary and appeal processes. A failure to undertake a fair dismissal process can potentially lead to expensive and time-consuming Employment Tribunal litigation.”