Policeman Sacking Case Reaches Employment Appeals Tribunal

A whistleblowing ex-policeman was sacked not because of his protected disclosures but due to his pursuit of complaints in a way that was 'sufficient to try and to exhaust the patience of any organisation', the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled (Panayiotou v Chief Constable Kernaghan).

The former officer had expressed a number of largely justified concerns in respect of the attitude of certain colleagues to race issues and their treatment of victims of rape, child abuse and domestic violence. He was not satisfied that appropriate action had been taken and campaigned to put right the wrongs that he believed had occurred. Convinced that there had been a 'cover up', he pursued a number of channels in his attempts to secure redress.

He was ultimately dismissed and claimed that he had been persecuted and automatically unfairly dismissed for making protected disclosures, in breach of the Employment Rights Act 1996. He also claimed that he had been victimised for performing protected acts under the Race Relations Act 1976.

The Employment Tribunal (ET) accepted that he had been unfairly treated in several respects. However, it dismissed his case on the basis that it was the way in which he had pursued his complaints, and not the making of them, which had led to his employer's determination to be rid of him. The force had become exasperated by his long-term absence on sick leave and his insistence that his views should prevail.

In dismissing the former officer's appeal, the EAT found no error of law in the ET's conclusion that he had become 'completely unmanageable' and that his treatment was 'not in any sense whatsoever' connected to the public interest disclosures that he had made. The ET was also entitled to find that his dismissal and the detriments to which he was subjected had nothing at all to do with matters related to race.

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