HCL vindicated in Bleasdale Appeal
Today the Employment Appeal Tribunal provided the written reasons for its decision.
In March 2011, following a review of the management accounts and an extensive disciplinary investigation, HCL dismissed Ms Bleasdale for gross misconduct.
During her original hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal, Ms Bleasdale argued that she had uncovered various accounting irregularities amounting to millions of pounds and that she & lsquo;blew the whistle’ on these after she discovered them.
She also claimed to be a victim of sex discrimination. HCL defended the claims on the basis that Ms Bleasdale was fully aware of, and condoned, the financial irregularities for significant periods of time prior to her purported whistle-blowing.
HCL argued that she had not acted in good faith but that she had instead condoned or encouraged falsifications to the management accounts and was therefore guilty of gross misconduct. The Employment Tribunal upheld the fairness of HCL's actions and rejected all of Ms Bleasdale's heads of claim.
From May 2012 to February 2014, Ms Bleasdale lodged various applications and appeals both to have the decision reviewed by the Employment Tribunal and appealed to the EAT. Amongst other things, she argued that the law had been applied incorrectly and that the decision of the Employment Tribunal was & lsquo;perverse’. None of her appeals were successful.
In its Judgment against Ms Bleasdale, the EAT comments “we have no hesitation in saying that, in our collective judgment, no error of approach is present in this Employment Tribunal’s long judgment”. Although it is not the task of the EAT to re-examine factual issues and witness evidence, the EAT stated that in this case it had no inclination to rewrite the original Judgment of the Employment Tribunal. HCL has already succeeded in obtaining a £25,000 costs award against Ms Bleasdale owing to the manner in which she handled her appeal.
Peter Sullivan, Chairman, states, “Whilst our focus has always remained forward looking during this two year period, it is good to bring closure to this aspect of HCL's past. The management team is committed to building a sustainable business built on integrity, innovation and excellence. It is our intention to develop a lasting partnership with our biggest customer, the public sector, and to lend our support during this & lsquo;once in a life time’ transition”.