Parish council joy at tribunal decision

paul simpson
paul simpson

THE chairman of Nuthall Parish Council has welcomed an employment tribunal decision to clear them of any wrongdoing surrounding the resignation of a former assistant council clerk.

The council had been accused of ‘plotting’ to get rid of Jane Edmonds after she uncovered alleged financial irregularities at the council.

Her accusations led to the arrest of former clerk Steve Strickland on suspicion of false accounting and theft only for the case to be eventually dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

He was fired from his role as parish clerk in January 2008 but Mrs Edmonds resigned just six months later claiming she was being victimised by the council members after her ‘whistle-blowing’.

She then launched a claim for unfair constructive dismissal as well as 23 other charges.

But in November a tribunal decided that the council did not force her out of her post. It concluded that the council was not in breach of contract and said the claims were ‘not well founded’.

And in a statement released this week, council chairman Paul Simpson said: “The council is pleased to report that the long-running matter relating to a former employee is now at an end, and the employment tribunal outcome was entirely in the council’s favour.

“The council regrets that it will be obliged to bear a significant level of legal costs in relation to its defence, but felt it right to vigorously defend the unfounded allegations made and feels that it has been vindicated by the outcome.

“As chairman I am greatly relieved that this episode is now concluded and that we can now move forward with the business of the council.”

The tribunal hearing was initially heard over four days in January, but could not be completed, and was wrapped up in October.

The verdict was issued on November 5, but the council had to wait 40 days to release its statement until they knew whether Mrs Edmonds planned to appeal.

Mrs Edmonds’ claims against the council included unfair constructive dismissal, 20 incidents of ‘unpleasant conduct’ from councillors, the time it took the council to pursue her concerns about the alleged thefts from parish accounts, the fact that she was not given a pay rise for taking on more responsibilities and her physical and physiological health as a result of the goings on.

The tribunal dismissed the fact the council ‘acted without reasonable or proper cause’, but did accept that some criticism should be attached to the council for the way Mrs Edmonds was spoken to on a few occasions.

However it was decided that there was no evidence that her exposure of the alleged action’s by the former clerk had been held against her.

During the case, it emerged that some of Mrs Edmond’s claims had emerged from secret recordings she had made of councillor’s private discussions.

But the tribunal concluded that the main reason for her resignation appeared to be the council’s refusal to pay her a clerk’s wage for work she carried out during Mr Strickland’s suspension and subsequent dismissal – a request the council was entitled to reject.