University Hospital North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust v Fairhall: EAT 30 Jun 2021

Whistleblowing, Protected Disclosures

The claimant made a number of protected disclosures, after which she informed the respondent that she intended to invoke the formal whistle blowing policy. The claimant was then suspended, subject to disciplinary investigation (during which she raised a grievance that was rejected), dismissed and her appeal against dismissal rejected. The tribunal considered that the claimant’s treatment was not only grossly unfair, but was the culmination of a process, involving numerous people, designed to get rid of her because she had made protected disclosures. The tribunal found that the claimant had been dismissed for the reason, or principle reason, that she had made protected disclosures. This was not a Jhuti type case in which an innocent decision maker was manipulated by others into dismissing the claimant, but a case in which, on a proper reading of the tribunal’s judgment, it was found as fact that the reason, or principle reason, of the disciplinary hearing panel for dismissing the claimant was her making protected disclosures. The Tribunal properly considered the reasoning process of the chair of the panel, the only witness called by the respondent to explain the reasoning process of the panel. The appeal against the protected disclosure dismissal claim was rejected. While it was clear that the tribunal concluded that the dismissal was the end of a process aimed at achieving the dismissal of the claimant, the individual claims of pre-dismissal detriment were not considered in sufficient detail to be Meek compliant because there was insufficient analysis of who were the relevant decision makers in respect of each specific detriment and why it was concluded they had acted on the grounds of the claimant having made protected disclosures. The pre-dismissal claims were remitted to the tribunal for further consideration, if necessary.

James Taylor HHJ
[2021] UKEAT 0150 – 20 – 3006
England and Wales


Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.663595