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Bonkers Blog July 2011

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6 July (Part 1) - News Shopper gets it wrong

Richard EdwardsThis morning’s News Shopper has a headline on Page 3 stating “Dismissal ruled fair”. The article by Sophie Maden who was not at Court to hear the judgement goes on to say that “the Ashford Tribunal Court found Miss Queen had not been unfairly dismissed and she also lost on a second count of public disclosure”. There are arguably three errors in that short sentence. There is no such thing as public disclosure, the legal term is protected disclosure. It was not the “second count” it was the only count. It is not permissible to bring a claim for unfair dismissal if employed for fewer than twelve months. Under twelve months one can only bring a claim under rules of ‘protected disclosure’ which require the plaintiff to prove a direct link between whistleblowing over illegal activities and any subsequent dismissal. That claim failed as I reported at length a few days ago. And the third error is to omit the vital point that the Judge said that the dismissal was unfair. Where did the Shopper’s headline come from?

The Ashford Employment Tribunal, led by Judge Wallis, a solicitor who used to be employed by Bexley council, the Respondent in the proceedings, held that:

1. Miss Queen had been unfairly dismissed. (Councillor Campbell was on record in an internal email as being in agreement.)

2. Miss Queen had satisfied the first criteria (the protected disclosure) in order to make a claim for compensation as a whistleblower. (The concerns she expressed about theft of post and the presence of Richard Edwards in the building after he had been arrested by police, taken away in handcuffs and his computer with downloaded and viewed child pornography was removed from the Thames Innovation Centre).

3. Miss Queen had not been sacked by convicted paedophile Richard Edwards and therefore Miss Queen’s claim for £18,000 compensation was dismissed.

However the evidence before Judge Wallis, and the Tribunal members was that Richard Edwards was the manager of TIC; that he was Miss Queen’s manager; that he had called her into his office to tell her she was sacked; that he handed her a letter dated 23rd September 2010 informing Miss Queen she was sacked; and the letter was signed by him as the manager of TIC. No wonder Miss Queen is planning an appeal.

The News Shopper’s report is careless in the extreme and factually incorrect on a number of points. The journalist responsible did not hear the judgement nor did she fulfil her promise to visit Miss Queen at home to interview her. The Tribunal‘s written judgement is not yet available so where Ms. Maden obtained her information from is unclear. If it came only from Bexley council it will of course be incomplete. The reporter has misled her readers by filing a woefully incomplete story. Two members of the Bonkers team (one with 40 years of legal experience) were present throughout and both with full access to all relevant papers. According to her own web profile Ms. Madden is employed by The News of the World as well as News Shopper. On today of all days, need one say more?

Miss Queen’s is the second unfair dismissal case brought to my attention in which the judge was found to have a connection with Bexley council.


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