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“The trust placed by an employer in an employee was at the core of their relationship.”

The employment tribunal had been entitled to find that, where the employer had received an unproved and untested allegation of an overseas child sex offence against the employee, who had not disclosed it to the employer prior to his appointment, the resulting breakdown of trust had constituted ‘some other substantial reason’ within the meaning of section 98(1)(b) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 summarily to dismiss the employee in order to prevent the employer’s reputation being damaged.”

The employer, a public body some of the responsibilities of which required it to have regard to the interests of children, had become aware that the employee, employed at a relatively senior level in the organisation, had, prior to his appointment, been arrested in Cambodia on charges of having sexually abused children, a fact which he had not disclosed before he had been appointed. At that time the employer had been satisfied as to his innocence and he had subsequently been cleared of the charges in Cambodia; but a formal disclosure to the employer by the Metropolitan Police in relation to other matters, including allegations of paedophile activity in Cambodia, and a warning that they considered the employee posed a continuing threat to children, had led to a disciplinary hearing.

Following the meeting, attended by the employee at which the police disclosures had been discussed in detail, the employer, concerned with the risk of damage to its reputation if the allegations were reported in the press and turned out to be true, and concerned that the employee had not disclosed potentially damaging information before the hearing, had decided that the relationship of trust and confidence had broken down and dismissed the employee summarily.

The tribunal had been entitled to conclude that the dismissal had not been wrongful, since the employee had abused the trust and confidence placed in him to a degree which was sufficiently serious to justify summary dismissal. He had concealed from the employer the fact that his case had been in the Cambodian courts and press. He had lied to the employer about the reason why he had been unable to start work on the appointed date.

Citation:
Leach v Office of Communications: [2012] EWCA Civ 959; [2012] WLR (D) 205

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