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Milton Keynes General NHS Trust v Southcote-Want - Tribunal wrongly substituted its own views for those of employer [2010] EAT

An employment tribunal wrongly substituted its own views for that of the employer when considering an unfair dismissal claim.

Ms Southcote-Want was Director of Nursing at Milton Keynes Hospital. Estranged from her husband, she befriended a Mr Murphy - whom in due course she recruited as a consultant on risk management for the Trust. It later appeared, however, that he had no previous experience in the field of NHS risk management, or appropriate qualifications. A number of incidents of alleged preferential treatment then occurred: Mr Murphy attended a training course for which, it seemed, Ms Southcote-Want eventually arranged for the Trust to pay the fee; one month she paid his consultancy fee in advance; etc. It was alleged that Mr Murphy had, in fact, been appointed because he was having an affair with Ms Southcote-Want. The Trust investigated and, as a result, Ms Southcote-Want faced a disciplinary hearing. Contrary to the Trust's policies this was conducted by her line manager, who was also a witness. Ms Southcote-Want went off sick, never to return, but the hearing continued and she was dismissed for gross misconduct - despite her objections against both the chair and HR adviser who conducted the hearing. She lost her internal appeal, which was held very quickly and for which she was not provided with notes of the disciplinary hearing.

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