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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.

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”.

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.

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