Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taxpayers' Cash Used to Flout Legal Order; Health Bosses Criticised by Employment Judge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Taxpayers' Cash Used to Flout Legal Order; Health Bosses Criticised by Employment Judge

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael Brown

HEALTH chiefs have been criticised by an employment judge for their "utterly reprehensible" use of taxpayers' money to flout a court order.

Hospital bosses had offered no evidence and called no witnesses to defend their refusal to reemploy mental health nurse Yunus Bakhsh, saying to do so would have harmed the "health and wellbeing" of their staff.

Judge Andrew Buchanan said at an employment tribunal yesterday that he wished awards against employers who deliberately disobey the law could be unlimited and increased the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust's compensation bill to the maximum allowed - a total of more than pounds 105,000.

Mr Bakhsh, who had a 23-year unblemished record, was suspended in 2006 and then unlawfully sacked in 2008 over unproven allegations of bullying.

A tribunal in April this year ordered the authority to take back the Gateshead nurse by the end of June, but when the father-of-one arrived he was told he was told the trust could not re-employ him because of "concerns" over his nursing registration.

Judge Buchanan said such claims were no valid reason to ignore a legal order.

He added: "It's hard from their words to avoid the inference in this case that this Trust simply never had any intention of complying and were always willing to accept the full additional award.

"In the private sector an employer might take that as a commercial decision but in the public sector, where public money is concerned it is utterly reprehensible.

"This was a decision by public officials to use public money to flout an order of a tribunal. We can only speculate if it would have been different had the money come from these officials' own pockets rather than the public purse."

The Trust's barrister, Bernard Hodgson, told the court that while the Trust had accepted it would have to pay the full additional compensation award, equivalent to a full year's salary for Mr Bakhsh, they did not concede they had done anything wrong. …

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