Nationwide Building Society ordered to reinstate sacked Montrose manager

The Nationwide Building Society has been ordered to reinstate a Tayside branch manager it unfairly sacked.

An employment tribunal in Dundee ruled the Nationwide had “absolutely nothing” on which to base any conclusion that Claire Carnegie was guilty of fraud.

They told the building society to give her back her job at Montrose by the end of this month and to pay her £8,440 as compensation for the wages she lost since her wrongful dismissal.

Miss Carnegie, of Arbroath, who works in Dundee, held her post after Nationwide took over the business from the Dunfermline Building Society.

The two organisations’ procedures were different, and one was about customer service. It was her name above the door and she was told by Nationwide she could contravene detailed procedures if this resulted in increased customer service.

She was told that if a customer did not have their passbook before making a withdrawal she could ignore this rule if she knew the customer and could vouch for their identity.

In February last year her partner Benjamin Knight received a reminder from his car insurance company about a late payment.

This concerned Miss Carnegie, as it had been sent to her address and she was careful to safeguard her credit record.

He asked her to help by withdrawing money from his Dunfermline account to make the payment. His job took him throughout Scotland and it was difficult for him to go to the branch.

To get round the problem, she took home a cash withdrawal form for him to complete to make the withdrawal. He also telephoned the branch cashier and called later in the day to collect the money.

Miss Carnegie saw no difficulty in the arrangement as there was no risk to the society as she knew Mr Knight and saw him sign the withdrawal form.

A similar transaction was made later that month, another one in March and a fourth in April.

At some point in March 2013 the branch’s intranet connection containing society policies and procedures was changed from the Dunfermline to the Nationwide.

Some time in March or April a whistleblowing call was made by a Nationwide employee to management alleging that Miss Carnegie had inappropriately processed transactions for her partner Mr Knight.

Matters escalated and Miss Carnegie was called to a disciplinary hearing at which she was accused of gross misconduct over the withdrawal of funds from her partner’s account. She was dismissed in May and the decision was upheld at an appeal.

Tribunal judge Ian McFatridge said Nationwide’s case fell to some extent at the first hurdle as there was evidence that two of Miss Carnegie’s superiors did not have a genuine belief of her guilt.

The society had failed to investigate the matter properly and did not have sufficient grounds to find Miss Carnegie guilty.