Man sacked for attending gin festival while off sick with stress

© DC ThomsonStan Reid leaving the industrial tribunal at Caledonian House in Dundee last month
Stan Reid leaving the industrial tribunal at Caledonian House in Dundee last month

A Dundee man was sacked while on sick leave following the murder of one of his friends and the disappearance of a close friend’s son when his bosses found out he had gone to a gin festival.

Stan Reid was off work due to stress associated with the hunt for teenager Ralph Smith, who had fallen from cliffs near Arbroath, and the subsequent killings of Julie McCash and David Sorrie following a vigil at the teenager’s family home in Whitfield.

However, bosses at the city’s Michelin factory learned he had attended a gin festival  and fired him for gross misconduct.

An employment tribunal in Dundee yesterday heard the company was alerted to a Facebook post, in which Mr Reid was tagged, that suggested he was at the event in Glasgow. A comment from him, stating “I’m not there”, was followed by a comment from his girlfriend which said “shhh….”

The factory’s production manager and joint disciplinary committee (JDC) chairman David Ashforth said the messages suggested Mr Reid was not as sick as his employers had been led to believe.

He said: “For me and the panel, we felt that if he could go to a gin festival then he could go to his work.

“I understand the circumstances around this were difficult but why was going to a gin festival a good idea?”

The tribunal, heard by Peter Wallington QC, was told Mr Reid had been certified as sick due to stress as a result of the disappearance and murders.

Mr Reid was a major part of the search effort for 18-year-old Ralph Smith— who he had known since his birth — in circumstances described by his solicitor Ryan Russell as “incredibly distressful.”

The tragedy was compounded when Ms McCash and Mr Sorrie were murdered.

One month later, Ralph’s death was confirmed after his body washed up on the town’s Victoria Park.

A second witness, Michelin’s development manager Stuart Duncan, said he did not believe Mr Reid was sick but did not question the authenticity of his certification.

Mr Russell questioned this rationale and  criticised Mr Duncan’s failure to follow company procedure when he dismissed Mr Reid.

Mr Duncan said he had already made the decision to dismiss him following the JDC, despite Mr Reid being told he would be given the opportunity to argue his case.

Mr Russel said: “I would put it to you that this is shocking.

“It’s a complete and utter disregard for all proper process. You just dismissed Mr Reid before he had even uttered a word. He was not given a fair crack of the whip.”

Mr Duncan responded that his understanding was that the meeting was simply to “deliver my decision”.

The tribunal continues today.