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Wrongful Dismissal: Council Abuses Surveillance Powers To Sack Staff

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A worker has won £66,000 in compensation from Conservative-controlled Mid-Sussex District Council for unfair and wrongful dismissal, the reports.

Roger Mills, of East Grinstead, West Sussex, had worked for the council for 14 years and had a spotless record.  But, he had "personal differences" with his new boss, Shaun Morley, who used taxpayers' money to hire private detectives to spy on him.

After four months of surveillance, Mr. Mills was sacked for gross misconduct for "spending time at home during work hours."  However, Mr. Mills had a long-standing arrangement allowing him to work from home.

Judge Mary Stacey found: "the surveillance of Mr. Mills was not proportionate and was in breach of his right to privacy for a number of reasons.  Mr. Morley's initial suspicion was whimsical.  The surveillance was conducted against a background of complete failure by Mr. Morley to engage with or manage Mr. Mills. 

"Instead of speaking to him, he chose to have him secretly followed.  His home was watched not only during work hours but outside his work hours.

"It was extremely puzzling to us why Mr. Mills's clear evidence at both the dismissal and appeal hearing, that his working from home arrangement had been sanctioned by his previous manager, was simply ignored or dismissed out of hand."

Mid-Sussex District Council's head of organisational development, Marissa Bartlett, stood by the decision to sack Mr. Mills, however, and expressed disappointment at the tribunal's "interpretation of the evidence."

The case follows previous criticism of over their use of anti-terror-style surveillance powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.  A survey of 180 councils by the Liberal Democrats has found snooping laws have been used 10,288 times in the past five years.

What is wrongful dismissal?

Wrongful dismissal arises when an employer breaches a term of a , which results in dismissal or forces an employee to leave.  A dismissal can be both wrongful and .

Additional Information & Advice

You can obtain further information about wrongful dismissal on .

Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be better to speak with a solicitor who specialises in law.  You can be in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.

And, again depending on your situation, they may be able to help you find a solicitor who will agree to take your case on a "no win no fee" basis, which means you don't have to pay for the solicitor's services unless you win your case.

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