Posted on: Mar 12,2020
Mr Uddin had worked for the London Borough of Ealing since 2012. Following a team night-out at a pub he was accused of sexual assault against a 25-year-old female intern (SR). SR said that Mr Uddin had dragged her into a toilet, locked her in and assaulted her, leaving bruising on her breasts. Mr Uddin said that he had suffered alcohol related memory loss and denied the allegations.
Ian Jenkins, a former police officer and Head of the Youth Offending Service, was asked to investigate the allegations. He encouraged SR to complain to the police, which she did. Following the internal investigation, Mr Jenkins decided that Mr Uddin had a case to answer.
Before a disciplinary decision had been made, SR withdrew her police complaint because she had been presurissed to complain by Mr Jenkins and “didn’t realise it would be so griefy”. She signed a withdrawal statement saying that she did not remember being sexually assaulted. Mr Jenkins was aware that she had withdrawn her police complaint, but he did not tell the disciplinary panel who decided that the allegations against Mr Uddin should be upheld and dismissed him for gross misconduct.
Mr Uddin sued for unfair dismissal (and other things) in the Employment Tribunal (ET). The ET did not uphold his claim on the grounds that the employer had reasonable grounds for accepting SR’s version of events and that gross misconduct was made out.
Mr Uddin appealed to the EAT who considered the case of Royal Mail v Jhuti. In that case, the Supreme Court said that that the knowledge or conduct of someone who is not the decision maker can be relevant in assessing whether the decision to dismiss was fair.
While Jhuti was about the reason for dismissal, rather than the fairness of the dismissal, the EAT said that Jhuti was relevant to Mr Uddin’s case. This is because Mr Jenkins knew that SR had withdrawn her complaint to the police and should have informed the disciplinary panel. The Court said that if the ET had properly considered the issue, they would have found that the dismissal was unfair. The ET should have considered that:
The case investigator must not presume that the person they are investigating is guilty. In this case, Mr Jenkins called SR a “victim” and was hostile towards Mr Uddin.
Standard of investigation
All evidence potentially relevant to a decision should be provided to the decision maker.
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