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Tysers cleared of whistleblowing dismissal

Former Tysers COO Quintin Heaney last week won an unfair dismissal tribunal but the court rejected his claims that he was sacked for blowing the whistle about regulatory disclosures.

The bitter dispute followed Heaney's sudden departure from the London market broker last year.

Delivering the verdict at the London Central Employment Tribunal on Wednesday (13 August), Judge Andrew Glennie said Heaney had been successful in arguing for unfair dismissal but dismissed the whistleblowing claim.

Heaney claimed that he had repeatedly lobbied Tysers chairman Christopher Spratt to inform the UK regulator that the group's CEO Chris Elliott was unwell and absent from his role for two months, but the judge ruled that this did not count as a protected disclosure.

The tribunal concluded that Heaney's dismissal was driven primarily by Spratt and Elliott, who were fearful that he planned to unseat the CEO while he was incapacitated.

It ruled that if the board had conducted a proper investigation it would have found that the suspicions were unfounded.

In a statement the broker said it welcomed the unanimous judgment.

Spratt said: "Tysers takes its responsibilities to ensure good governance very seriously and the tribunal's decision confirms our belief that Mr Heaney's 'whistleblowing' claims were misconceived and wholly without merit.

"We are disappointed that Mr Heaney brought such claims before the employment tribunal and are glad that it has come to an end so we can concentrate on our business without any further distractions."

The judge discounted a piece of evidence from Tysers' human resources director Mark James after he failed to produce notes to substantiate claims that Heaney had reduced staff members to tears and caused them sleepless nights.

The tribunal concluded that if the situation had been as serious as James had suggested it would have been formally documented.

Heaney was apparently asked by Tysers to seek the help of a professional coach after a number of clashes with staff and a falling out with four suppliers and the regulator.

"I did accept that I had an ability to tear a strip off people in an open plan office from time to time. That was less than ideal," Heaney told the tribunal.

In a subsequent employment review Spratt noted that Heaney "did excellent work" but suggested that the "old Quintin" occasionally came out, adding that he had a tendency to "shoot from the hip".

Heaney's barrister, Richard O'Dair, accused Tysers of a "very carefully crafted, stage-managed performance" in its attempts to fend off Heaney's whistleblowing claim.

But the broker fought back, with its QC Simon Devonshire arguing that Heaney's case was spurious.

"He realised that his ordinary unfair dismissal claim was capped at a year's salary, and that the only way to bust the cap was to play the whistleblowing card," Tysers said in an 11 August submission to the tribunal.

The defence argued that Heaney had rewritten his witness statement three times to "ginger up" a "flaky and unsustainable" case.

Compensation is expected to be decided early next year.

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