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Ealing council has been forced to pay £63,000 to a former worker who took them to an employment tribunal.

Lindsay Deveney, who was sacked in February 2008, was responsible for providing accommodation for homeless people. He also backed the setting up of a new charity, Safe Haven, which was supposed to help with housing in the area.

The scheme initially believed to be financially lucrative for the council, made a loss of £180,000 in its first year,

An investigation was launched, and Mr Deveney was criticised for failing to ensure adequate protection, failing to have a robust system in place to manage finances, endangering council tenants, exposing the council to a degree of risk and failing to set up a panel for discussions between Safe Haven and the council.

The danger to tenants, according to a report, stemmed from the necessary safety checks not being done fully before new tenants were allowed to move in.

But the tribunal chairman Judge Andrew Hogarth QC said:

"Our overall conclusion is that the council was determined to dismiss someone from the Safe Haven scheme and as Mr Deveney was the last man in their employment, they chose to dismiss him.

"The entire disciplinary proceedings were tainted throughout by a determination to find someone to blame.

"The appeal hearing was wholly unsatisfactory, there was a failure to investigate fairly and the presentation of totally misleading facts and a lack of belief in the stated grounds of dismissal.

"This tribunal takes a very poor view of the behaviour of the council towards Mr Deveney who was dismissed without justification."

The employment tribunal suggested Ealing council should pay Mr Deveney, who was 51 at the time of the sacking, £191,000 in compensation. But as tribunals can only set compensation up to £63,000 Mr Deveney was told if he wished to claim the rest he must claim wrongful dismissal and appear in a county court or the High Court.

An Ealing council spokesperson said:

'We have noted that in this case the tribunal believed the council did not meet its expectations, and have paid the 63,000 it set.

''The council periodically reviews its policies and procedures. A new code of conduct was implemented in November 2009 and the disciplinary procedure was reviewed at the same time.''


February 24th, 2010

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