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Perth College UHI apologises to staff member unfairly dismissed amidst management plot

Among the senior staff criticised in the tribunal judgment was former Perth College UHI Principal Margaret Munckton, who stepped down in June.
Among the senior staff criticised in the tribunal judgment was former Perth College UHI Principal Margaret Munckton, who stepped down in June.

Former senior staff at Perth College UHI are still refusing to accept responsibility for an employment tribunal loss that cost the institution more than £70,000, a report has revealed.

The college has publicly apologised to Gerard McIver who was found to have been unfairly dismissed from the college’s Air Service Training operation as a result of a plot by the then principal and a cabal of colleagues.

The apology was issued this week following the conclusion of an independent review – commissioned by the college board – which recommended procedures be overhauled.

However, the review also revealed retired principal Margaret Munckton, former vice-principal Susan Bald and current Air Service Training chief executive Peter Farrow continue to deny any wrongdoing.

The tribunal found the trio had engineered the sacking of Mr McIver and his team at AST and went so far as to question the honesty of many of their answers.

Responding to the apology and review findings, Mr McIver – who is still without a regular job – said he was disappointed.

“I have my compensation and now an apology but I am still sceptical about the nature of the review and how seriously this matter has been treated by the management,” he said.

“The issue for me is that Peter Farrow is still in his post and Margaret Monckton and Susan Bald were allowed to retire.

“There has been no investigation into their conduct and no obvious action taken against anyone involved.”

Mr McIver was dismissed after he and colleagues attempted a buy-out of the college’s struggling air training operation.

The tribunal heard bosses turned on him, using spurious claims about the proposed buy-out as “a pretext for his sacking”.

Judge Ian McFatridge said accusations of gross misconduct against Mr McIver were clearly baseless and the management team knew they had no grounds for genuine dismissal.

The judgement cost Perth College UHI a £34,000 compensation package. It has since been revealed it also had to pay £36,000 in legal expenses.

Solicitor Ryan Russell, from employment lawyers Muir Myles Laverty, fought the case on behalf of Mr McIver.

He said: “I am genuinely quite astonished that some of the witnesses and the legal representative for the college remain entrenched in their position following the damning judgment.

“Many parts of the report involve poor attempts to justify their actions and place blame elsewhere.

“These witnesses lied on oath, refused to answer questions, could not answer questions and deliberately engineered the claimant’s dismissal.

“The public needs to know that despite the finding of the tribunal – which was not appealed – they think they did nothing wrong.”

Mr Russell said more employees came forward after the case was publicised to complain about the individuals concerned but by then their claims were time barred.

Dr Margaret Cook, principal and chief executive of Perth College UHI, who took up her role in August 2017, said: “On behalf of Perth College UHI, I would like to apologise to Mr McIver for the way he has been treated.

“Establishing the review group to consider the findings of the employment tribunal was a very important step which has allowed us to determine what we can do now to ensure that a situation of this nature does not arise again in the future.

“We are also making the results of the independent review available widely, in the spirit of openness, and because there may be lessons arising from this case that can be applied elsewhere.”

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