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THT CEO WINS MAJOR WHISTLEBLOWING CLAIM

Judgment has just been handed down by the Employment Tribunal following the heavily-publicised whistleblowing trial in March this year between Dr Rosemary Gillespie and the Terence Higgins Trust.

Dr Gillespie, who was represented by Chris Quinn, had been employed by THT as its new Chief Executive in April 2014 as a "change agent”. She was dismissed just over a year later in hotly disputed circumstances. Her case, which was accepted by the Tribunal, was that her dismissal was as a result of various ‘protected disclosures’ that she had made to the trustees of THT including disclosures as to inappropriate touching by a trustee, safeguarding and financial matters.

THT had mounted a robust defence to her claim, not only denying that any of the disclosures had ever been made but going further and alleging that she had been dismissed for wholly unrelated reasons.

Whistleblowing claims are commonly seen by practitioners as being difficult for claimants to win at trial. The judgment in this case is a good illustration of the numerous challenges that these claims create given the very large number of factual and legal issues that arose. The performance of decision-makers during cross-examination will often be key to the result. It was in this case. In the course of its judgment the Tribunal resolved very many factual disputes in favour of the Claimant. Importantly it also found that the Respondent had not been truthful in claiming that complaints that it had received about the Claimant had been unsolicited.

The detailed judgment contains numerous helpful pointers for employers on a wide range of issues from the perils of letting an internal investigation get out of hand to the importance of note taking and note retention. It also provides a concrete example of the perils of submitting witness evidence which does not withstand scrutiny.

Furthermore the case also provides a helpful up-to-date summary of recent whistleblowing authorities including the recent debate as to whether or not the making of an allegation constitutes the required disclosure of information as well as the meaning of the required "public interest”.

Compensation will be assessed at a future hearing.

Follow this LINK to the judgment of the Employment Tribunal which was sent to the parties on 27th July 2016.

Littleton is acknowledged as being one of the leading sets for statutory employment work and the leading text on Whistleblowing is co-authored by three of our Members, John Bowers QC, Martin Fodder and Jeremy Lewis.

Chris Quinn is instructed in cases involving high-flyers in the employment context which are perceived as being likely to go all the way to trial in either the High Court or the Employment Tribunal. He acts for both companies and the key individuals within those companies. He also very recently recorded a success in the field of springboard relief in the High Court in Decorus v Penfold.

Posted: 28.07.2016 at 12:06
Tags:  Cases  Employment Law
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