Health manager wins unfair-dismissal case

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The Independent Online
A HEALTH board manager sacked after being accused of stealing rolls and sausages from a hospital dining room was awarded more than pounds 12,000 compensation yesterday.

A Glasgow industrial tribunal also ordered Argyll and Clyde Health Board to reinstate James Johnston in his job at Vale of Leven district general hospital by 26 August.

Mr Johnston was sacked from his pounds 20,000-a-year job after a catering assistant, herself sacked for dishonesty, reported that he took rolls and sausages without paying for them.

Mr Johnston, of Hillbank Street, Bonhill, Alexandria, Strathclyde, who had 22 years of unblemished service, said he always paid for food.

Douglas Phillips, the unit's general manager, investigated and concluded Mr Johnston was guilty of gross misconduct, leaving no option but to dismiss him. But in its findings, the tribunal said that it had rarely seen a case which fell further short of the standard of proof required for a decision to dismiss an employee.

Even if all the health board's evidence was accepted as credible there was not a shred of evidence against Mr Johnston except the statement of the sacked catering assistant, whose credibility had to be questionable and which did not exclude the possibility he had paid someone else.

The investigation was insufficient and breached the health board's own procedures as witnesses were not asked to submit a written statement of their evidence and Mr Phillips took a decision on the edited evidence of witnesses he had not seen.

The tribunal ordered Mr Johnston's reinstatement despite the evidence of Mr Phillips that he would no longer trust him.