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A council worker has been compensated for having been dismissed unfairly (22 February 2013)

Date: 22/02/2013
Duncan Lewis, Legal News Solicitors, A council worker has been compensated for having been dismissed unfairly

A whistle blower town hall worker who was sacked for pointing out mistakes in a report about children at risk of abuse was awarded £67,995 in an unfair dismissal case.
John Coatman, 59, who received the pay out after four years of battle with the Salford council, said that the case caused him so much stress that he suffered a stroke.
Mr Coatman, from Salford said that it felt great to finally know that he had won the case after years of hell. He said he was sure of the tribunal success but he wasn’t sure about the payout which he said he deserved.
He added that three years back he would have accepted £50,000 if the employers had offered him but the four years had caused him lot of stress. The case had begun in September 2011.
The tribunal was told how he emailed a top Salford council chief in 2008 over concerns that figures in his line manager’s report over the safety of children at risk of abuse were inaccurate.
At the time, the council’s children’s services department was under pressure as it was deemed ‘inadequate’ by government inspectors.
Mr Coatman, a statutory returns analyst, said his concerns were dismissed and his manager had asked him to lie about the figures. The manager denied the allegations though.
But the tribunal heard that Mr Coatman was ‘disgusted’ and sent an email raising his concerns to Jill Baker, then director of the department.
He sent the same email to Ofsted, the Audit Commission and Government Office North West. The figures were eventually rectified. But Mr Coatman alleged that after sending the emails he was threatened with disciplinary action, subjected to intimidating behaviour by some staff and forced to move desks, before being suspended.
His bosses said they suspended him for allegedly communicating with colleagues in a highly inappropriate and threatening manner and failing to follow management requests.
At a disciplinary hearing, it was alleged the council’s trust and confidence in Mr Coatman had broken down. He claimed the allegations were malicious and took the council to a tribunal, which ruled his was an unfair dismissal. His award takes into account loss of earnings and pension over three years.
In 2009, Mr Coatman was admitted to Salford Royal hospital suffering from a minor stroke. He said the doctors couldn’t get it because he was physically fit but when they asked him whether he was experiencing stress he had to say yes it was a difficult period.
Mr Coatman has since found a new job with a management consultancy firm has said that he was enjoying to have found a job and he was even happier because his colleagues were great to work with.
Coun John Merry, assistant mayor for services for children, said things have changed since Mr Coatman had left and the council had rectified errors to improve its services. Even Ofsted had recently lifted the improvement notice and congratulated officers for the good progress made in the last two years.”

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