Case law updates

Deficiencies in extent and quality of investigation sees UD claim success

A Tribunal has ruled that a security officer accused of stealing a wallet from lost property was unfairly dismissed due to the employer’s inadequate investigation.

Mr Adeshina who worked night shifts at St Thomas’ Hospital London was dismissed by his employer Corps Security UK without notice on the grounds of gross misconduct on 1 October 2019, after more than 10 years of service.

However the London South Employment Tribunal ruled that the “deficiencies” of the investigation that led to his dismissal were so great that Adeshina’s employer “could not have had a reasonable belief in the claimant’s guilt because of the unreasonable process which led to that belief”.

Adeshina’s role involved spending time at the control desk in the management office, as well as checking and locking up each department using a set of master keys.

When another security officer was handed a lost wallet containing cards and £80 in cash she had logged it in the lost property book, placed the wallet and the completed lost property form into a green transparent patient bag and placed it into another bag at the control desk in the management office. However, when the bag was opened the following Monday, it was discovered that the wallet was not in it.

When CCTV footage was reviewed was suspended with immediate effect and an investigation conducted. The CCTV appeared to show Adeshina opening the property bag, taking the patient property bag out, hiding the contents then walking out of the control desk before later returning to the office and shredding paper and what appeared to be a card.

When questioned, Adeshina said he was him in the CCTV footage but that he did not take the wallet or shred paperwork. Following that interview, a senior manager reviewed extracts of CCTV footage that showed Adeshina but undertook no further investigation. Adeshina was given no opportunity to view the footage or asked for an explanation of his actions as seen on CCTV.

The disciplinary hearing subsequently concentrated primarily on whether or not Adeshina was the person seen in the still from the footage. Adeshina continued to deny he had taken the wallet. Following the hearing, the senior manager hearing the case reviewed the footage again but was not convinced by the Adeshina’s explanation and he was dismissed

The Tribunal judge noted that during the investigation  Adeshina was asked only generalised questions, and that he had not seen either the CCTV footage relied upon or the still photographs taken from it.

Whilst the employer had a potentially fair reason for dismissal the judge found “deficiencies in the extent and quality of the investigation conducted… A reasonable investigation would have sought to verify the claimant’s explanation for the actions seen on CCTV.” The dismissal was therefore ruled unfair.