Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Nursery Staff Sacked over 'Cocaine Blackmail Plot' ; Workers Claim Unfair Dismissal by Owners Bosses Bugged Staff Room, Tribunal Told

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Nursery Staff Sacked over 'Cocaine Blackmail Plot' ; Workers Claim Unfair Dismissal by Owners Bosses Bugged Staff Room, Tribunal Told

Article excerpt

TWO nursery workers were instantly sacked by bosses who suspected them of planting cocaine and trying to blackmail them out of Pounds 30,000, a tribunal heard.

Experienced child-care workers Sharon Ingham and Sharon Sadler were fired after a small amount of the drug was found at Sale Private Day Nursery, which cares for children aged between a few months and five years.

The pair are claiming unfair dismissal against Louise and Michael Porter, the married couple who run the nursery, over their sacking on July 2 last year.

Ms Ingham, 38, and Ms Sadler, 36, were accused in the hearing of sending three text messages to Mrs Porter demanding Pounds 30,000 or threatening to report the nursery to the authorities over drugs being on the property.

But they deny being behind the texts - although they admit stashing the drugs in a staff room video recorder at the nursery for six days. They insist the drugs belonged to another member of staff, who they said was dealing to Mr Porter, 50 and his 52-year-old wife.

Ms Ingham, of Southwick Road, Northern Moor, told the court that she thought it was Mr Porter who was behind the blackmail texts in a bid to cover up their own drugs habit - something the couple strenuously deny.

She told the hearing in Manchester that the cocaine had dropped out of the pocket of a pair of trousers, owned by the other member of staff, on June 27 - the day before the first blackmail text was sent.

Ms Ingham then told Ms Sadler - but did not immediately tell police or Ofsted because they were 'frightened' of the nursery being shut down and them losing their jobs.

Earlier, the Porters admitted bugging the office of Ms Sadler - the manager of the nursery who worked there for 11 years - after receiving the first blackmail text on June 28, 2012.

The texts said the sender knew there were drugs on the nursery premises and threatened to 'go to the authorities' unless Pounds 30,000 was paid. …

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