Former nurse loses £12m case for unfair dismissal
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Saturday 23 June 2012
Controversial entrepreneur Kate Bleasdale's reputation lay in tatters last night after she lost her £12m unfair dismissal case against Healthcare Locums, the recruitment firm which sacked her last year following the discovery of a black hole in the accounts.
Ms Bleasdale, famous for winning a record breaking £2.2m for unfair dismissal and sexual harassment at a previous company, was suing HCL and certain directors for sex discrimination, victimisation due to whistle-blowing and unfair dismissal.
During the course of the tribunal she dropped several charges including that of sex discrimination.
However, the former nurse continued to press other claims and even instituted new ones during the unusually long three-week case which ran through April and May. All her claims were yesterday dismissed.
Speaking exclusively to the Independent, she said she would appeal. "I do not agree with this judgment and I am going to fight it. I have told the truth and nothing but the truth and the truth will out eventually."
She declared: "If they think I am going to lie down and die then they are very much mistaken."
Ms Bleasdale was twice named Entrepreneur of the Year and founded Match Group, which she successfully sued in 2002, and Healthcare Locums, which she built into Britain's biggest medical recruitment firm. A spokesman for HCL declared the company "delighted" with the judgment.
The mother of four's shares in Healthcare Locums were sold for a fraction of the £25m they were worth at their peak but she denied speculation that she had bankruptcy proceedings against her.
Controversially, while building up the Aim-listed company, she bought businesses owned by her partner, now husband, John Cariss. Despite concerns over these transactions, she continued to keep the confidence of the market, which supported a £130m refinancing in late 2010 to fund a big takeover in Australia. But weeks later, it emerged that there were huge irregularities in the accounts and the shares were suspended, later to plummet.
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