Satan was using people in a “spiritual battle” within a Christian group based in Arbroath, an employment tribunal has heard.
The extraordinary minutes from a board meeting of the Arbroath Town Mission emerged as its former centre manager and town citizen of the year Wilma Swankie took legal action over her dismissal last year.
Mrs Swankie, 79, who had been employed by the organisation since 1987, brought the action on the basis of the Protected Disclosures Act.
The legislation encourages people to report serious wrongdoing in their workplace by providing protection for whistleblowing employees.
The tribunal, being held in Dundee in front of employment judge Ian McFatridge, heard Mrs Swankie had raised concerns with Scottish charity regulator, OSCR over the Town Mission’s constitution.
She had been a vocal opponent of it being a requirement that Town Mission members belonged to a church, despite this position being confirmed in a board vote.
OSCR did not uphold Mrs Swankie’s complaint and she was subsequently dismissed from her £20,000 a year job as centre manager.
Mrs Swankie, who was named Arbroath’s Citizen of the Year in 2015, is proceeding with the legal action on the basis that she was fired for going to the charity regulator.
Her solicitor Nick Whelan quizzed the centre’s current manager, Moira Milton, about the minutes of the board meeting she attended on March 21 last year, prior to disciplinary proceedings starting.
Under a heading of membership, the minutes state: “Derek (Marshall) replied it was all about control. There was also a spiritual battle going on and unfortunately Satan uses people within an organisation.”
Mr Whelan asked: “Who was Satan using in the organisation? Was he meaning Wilma?”
Ms Milton responded: “He may have been. You would have to ask Derek that, I can’t comment.”
Mr Whelan continued: “So at a board meeting that took place on the 21st of March, before the disciplinary process had begun, one of the disciplinary panel members was referring to Wilma doing the work of Satan.
“Did you think that’s an appropriate thing to say about a member of staff that they’re doing the work of Satan?”
Ms Milton replied: “There had been a lot going on. I don’t see how it’s relevant whether I think that’s appropriate or not.”
Mr Whelan responded: “You were on the disciplinary panel. One of your fellow disciplinary panel members was saying the employee you are discussing was doing the work of Satan.”
Ms Milton said there had been a break-down in trust and communication between Mrs Swankie and the board.
She said: “We were in a situation where we couldn’t make decisions as a board should be making decisions on because the person in charge of the running of the centre was not communicating or co-operating with the board.”
Arbroath Town Mission started in 1830 and currently operates as a church fellowship and a community centre.
The employment tribunal continues next month.