Costs faced after case dismissal

PUBLISHED: 16:34 13 July 2006 | UPDATED: 14:45 12 May 2010

A FORMER manager is facing a claim for legal costs after losing an unfair dismissal case at an employment tribunal. Following a one-day hearing, the tribunal panel has unanimously rejected the claim from Neil Cunliffe, 59, of Crawley End, Chrishall. Mr

A FORMER manager is facing a claim for legal costs after losing an unfair dismissal case at an employment tribunal.

Following a one-day hearing, the tribunal panel has unanimously rejected the claim from Neil Cunliffe, 59, of Crawley End, Chrishall.

Mr Cunliffe had hoped to complete his working career at Primagraphics in Litlington, but told the hearing that it was cut short.

Within an hour-and-a-half of forwarding an e-mail to all staff computers, Mr Cunliffe was told he was being suspended on full pay pending a disciplinary investigation.

Managing director John Hunter said it was considered the contents of the e-mail - which was claimed to have originated from a tabloid national newspaper article - created the risk of members of the 46-strong workforce being offended.

The article had discussed immigration into the UK and complained of an increasing amount of political correctness.

"It clearly had nothing to do with the business of the company and should not have been distributed internally," said Mr Hunter.

Mr Hunter told the tribunal panel sitting at Bury St Edmunds: "I found it uncomfortable to read."

Mr Cunliffe, who joined Primagraphics in January 1996, was called to a disciplinary hearing last December at which Mr Hunter said that taking into account the two previous warnings, the appropriate penalty was dismissal.

Mr Cunliffe said that during his time as purchasing manager he had always acted professionally and been able to achieve cost savings for the company. It was the first time in 44 years of work that he had been accused of any wrongdoing.

He said the e-mail which led to his dismissal had arrived from a supplier with a request that it was sent on to all staff.

"I am not a racist," Mr Cunliffe told the tribunal. "I do not belong to any racist organisation."

Mr Cunliffe said he had not forwarded the e-mail for any malicious reason nor made any additions to it himself, but believed that everyone was allowed to express their views and to be able to discuss them.

He said it was his belief that some members of Primagraphics management wanted to "ease him out" of his job.

Dismissing Mr Cunliffe's claim, tribunal chairman Brian Morron said a further hearing would hear an application for legal costs from lawyers representing Primagraphics.

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