Swansea Council has been criticised for a "cruel and deliberate attack" on one of its own workers in a row over a sickness dispute. An Employment Tribunal in Cardiff has upheld Malcolm Honey’s claims of unfair dismissal.
Mr Honey, who worked as a legal executive, brought the case after being dismissed by Swansea Council for an alleged breach of trust and confidence. The two-day hearing took place in Cardiff last month and followed an investigation into Mr Honey, who had been off sick for three weeks with bronchitis in July 2006. Swansea Council hired private detectives to check whether Mr Honey was indeed sick. The tribunal heard that detectives videoed Mr Honey returning from a stay at a friend's home in West Wales. Six weeks later he was summoned to discuss his sickness.
Support from Trade Union
With the support of his union UNISON, Mr Honey appealed against the decision and, in December, claims that he had fraudulently claimed sick pay and failed to tell bosses he was on holiday were dropped. A further charge of breaching trust was upheld and Mr Honey was dismissed by Swansea Council.
Commenting on the decision, Malcolm Honey said: "I'm very pleased and relieved that the Tribunal has seen through the council's ridiculous claims and I just want my name to now be cleared. It's been a very difficult year for me and for my family and we now just want to get on with our lives again. I do not wish to comment at this stage on any particular paragraph of the tribunal decision as it is available for anyone to read from the tribunal and you will see how I have been treated. It is important to point out that without the backing of UNISON and my solicitors, this kind of treatment would have gone unnoticed. It is the council's right to appeal however I question how realistic this is and whether it's in the best interest of the Swansea Council Tax Payer."
Paul Elliott, Head of Local Government for Unison in Wales said: “We’re delighted that the tribunal has upheld our member Malcolm Honey’s claim for unfair dismissal. The tribunal stated that it did not believe that the council genuinely thought that Mr Honey had committed the alleged misconduct and their suspicions were based on spurious grounds. This is unacceptable behaviour for any employer, not least a local authority.”
Representing Malcolm Honey, Samantha Moore from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Malcolm Honey did not deserve to be treated in the way that Swansea Council treated him. The tribunal’s report into the various hearings gives no indication that there was an objective search for the truth; instead, the hearings suggest a determination to catch Mr Honey out. We’re therefore very pleased with the outcome of this case and hope that Mr Honey can begin to rebuild his career and his reputation.