Senior officers doctored dismissal letter, tribunal finds

By Heather Jameson | 11 November 2021

Senior officers conspired to doctor a dismissal letter in a bid to make it look like it was signed before a grievance procedure was launched against their council, a tribunal has found.

Hammersmith and Fulham LBC’s ‘chief executive, interim head of corporate services, strategic director of governance and finance and section 151 officer and the borough solicitor and monitoring officer were all involved in this deception,’ according to the tribunal report.

The borough’s former director of public service reform, Rachael Wright-Turner, brought proceedings for unfair dismissal against the council and its chief executive, Kim Smith, after she was dismissed while on sick leave.

She also brought claims of disability discrimination citing ADHD and post-traumatic stress disorder which she suffered after working on the Grenfell response in her role as a tri-borough director.

Ms Wright-Turner had her probationary period extended after she was taken to A&E when she became distressed in the pub, following a difficult meeting with Ms Smith. The tribunal rejected claims by the chief executive and former interim director of HR Mark Grimley that her probation had been extended prior to her hospital visit.

After an extended period of sick leave, Ms Wright-Turner launched a grievance against the council on 1 August. A letter dismissing her, signed by Hammersmith and Fulham’s strategic director for finance and governance, Hitesh Jolapara on behalf of the chief executive, was dated 31 July. However, the tribunal found evidence the letter was signed after the grievance claim was launched.  

The tribunal found the council and chief executive had harassed and discriminated against Ms Wright-Turner and the council had failed to deal with the disciplinary procedures properly. However, not all the instances of harassment and discrimination were upheld.

A spokesperson for the council said: ‘We are disappointed and fundamentally disagree with the tribunal’s judgement. We are studying it carefully and considering our options.’

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