Monday, November 2, 2009

Council official sacked after failed rape claim wins £25,000 in compensation

This, while certainly needed, was a slap in the face for the gentleman fired. It was a £70,000 a year job and he only is awarded £25,000? And the sex discrimination was dismissed. And there is absolutely no mention if she still has her job. I would have to assume she does. Chivalry in action, once more misplaced. This is the attitude that needs to be confronted at every turn. That she is immediately believed, with no proof -- only her word -- has to change. At all levels.

£25,000 compensation for firing over false rape claim.

A senior council official accused of violently raping a colleague has been awarded £25,000 in damages.

The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was awarded the payout after successfully suing his bosses for wrongful dismissal.

He was sacked on the spot by the council's chief executive after his alleged victim, a director of a separate department, claimed he had attacked her.

Although she refused to give police a formal statement the council chief, a close friend, was convinced she was telling the truth.

He told Mr A, an assistant director, he believed that 'in all probability' he had 'raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused' his colleague.

He was then refused a disciplinary hearing on the basis that he would only deny the attack.

But when the police decided to take no further action due to a lack of evidence Mr A launched legal proceedings against his former employers seeking damages.

After a six day hearing at 's employment tribunal last August he was awarded damages for wrongful dismissal and sex discrimination.

It was only at the end of an appeal hearing, that details finally emerged of his compensation payout.

Documents revealed he was originally awarded £25,000 for wrongful dismissal and a further £16,385 for sex discrimination.

After the appeal hearing, however, the council's claim against the award for sex discrimination was upheld.

The allegations against Mr A first surfaced in July 2007 when Mrs X, his alleged victim, told the chief executive she had been violently raped six weeks previously.

'She said that this was the culmination of a series of incidents of sexual harassment,' said Mr Justice Underhill, who heard the appeal.

'She told him that she had not at that stage said anything to the police, and she made it plain that she was not prepared to make any formal complaint; but he persuaded her to permit him to speak to the police informally in order to seek advice.'

Days later the council's chief executive met with Mrs X and a police sexual offences liaison officer who listened to a fuller account of the alleged rape.

She claimed she was pushed into a disabled toilet by her alleged attacker who, she said, held his arm across her neck, before raping her.

He told her that no one would believe her if she ever spoke out and left. She returned home, showered several times and placed her clothing in a black bin liner which she threw into a skip outside her property.

The police informed the council that they believed she was telling the truth and that there were reasonable grounds to arrest Mr A on suspicion of rape.

On July 30 Mr A, who earned in excess of £70,000 and had worked for the authority since 2005, was summarily dismissed.

He was handed a letter by the council's chief executive which read: 'The reason for your immediate dismissal is that I believe that you have, in all probability, raped and sexually, physically and mentally assaulted, harassed and abused X.

'My belief is based upon recent discussions that I have had with X who has advised me of your actions and behaviour towards her since January of this year.

'I have had several meetings with X during which she has advised me of a specific incident of rape, another specific incident of physical assault and abuse and repeated incidents of serious harassment and abuse.

'These matters are clearly of the utmost seriousness. X has also spoken to the police who have indicated to me that her story is entirely credible.

'In most potential disciplinary situations, I would envisage offering the alleged perpetrator a hearing to respond to allegations and provide his/her account before reaching any decision.

'Were I to follow that course in this matter, I would expect you to categorically deny the allegations. The decision I would have to make would be whether or not to believe X.

'I say without hesitation that I accept what X has told me, as I believe do the police.'

Mr A was later arrested and interviewed. He denied the attack and the police took no further action due to lack of evidence as the woman still refused to give a statement.

Nor would she give evidence at the tribunal hearing.

But the tribunal described the council's decision to deny Mr A the right to a disciplinary hearing as 'shocking'.

Describing the case as 'unusual' and 'disturbing' Mr Justice Underhill, in his judgement, added:

'We also wish to make clear that the Claimant (the alleged rapist) was in this case very unfairly treated.

'The Claimant was summarily dismissed...for offences of the utmost gravity without any notice whatever of the allegations against him and without any opportunity to answer X's accusations - being told, indeed, that nothing he could say would be believed anyway.

But Mr Justice Underhill upheld the appeal by the Council and its Chief Executive, ruling that the man would not have been treated differently by them had he been a woman.