Former council director wins substantial pay-out

A former council official has been awarded a £94,000 pay-out after successfully pursuing a claim for victimisation and unfair dismissal against her old employer.

Karen Whitmore had been the assistant director of organisation and governance at Middlesbrough Council but took legal action against the local authority amid claims that she was forced out of her £70,000-a-year role.

A Tribunal heard that Mrs Whitmore had been escorted from the premises in January 2016.

Having heard evidence, a Judge upheld the claims for victimisation and unfair dismissal, but rejected suggestions that the former officer’s departure was a result of her blowing the whistle or that the Claimant had suffered harassment.

Following the outcome, Mrs Whitmore said: “This case was not just about the money, although it has cost me.

“It was about justice and the Tribunal recognising that I was unfairly dismissed and victimised, which they have done and I am grateful for their careful attention and fair approach.”

Middlesbrough Council’s chief executive, Tony Parkinson, accepted mistakes had been made but suggested that proceedings had been characterised by “lurid allegations”.

“A picture was created of this organisation which I simply do not recognise, while the vilification of individual officers and members is utterly unacceptable,” he said.

“The Tribunal was asked to believe in a culture of corruption and malpractice, while no evidence whatsoever to support this was put forward.

“Since the restructure that resulted in this Tribunal – a restructure that the Tribunal itself recognised as the right way forward – we have made great strides in dealing with many of the issues that necessitated the review in the first place.

“We accept the Tribunal’s findings, and will now draw a line under the matter…”

For expert advice on making or defending against a Tribunal claim, please contact the head of our Employment team Susan Bernstein or visit our website.

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