Sunday, 25 January 2015

Tribunal judge picks up on convictions issue at Charlotte Monro case

The judge presiding at the employment tribunal examining the dismissal of a trade union representative Charlotte Monro questioned why it took Barts NHS trust 80 days to raise the question of undeclared past convictions.

Ms Monro, an occupational therapist and handling co-ordinator at Whipps Cross University Hospital in Leytonstone, was dismissed after she addressed the Waltham Forest scrutiny committee in her capacity as a union rep about concerns over the hospital. The charges related to failing to respect confidentiality (by talking in her union role to staff about proposed changes), failure to disclose convictions and bringing the Trust into disrepute - this last charge being dropped on appeal.

The convictions occurred relating to Ms Monro’s activities around protests in the 1970s in 1975.

Ms Monro had failed to declare the convictions when she first applied and obtained her job at Whipps Cross hospital in 1987. She has since worked as an occupational therapist and moving and handling co-ordinator with exemplary service over the next 26 years.

It was when Ms Monro was asked to complete a CRB check in March 2013 to reveal any convictions that she openly went to her line manager explaining the situation.

She was assured that it was clear she was no risk to patients or public and as the convictions were so long ago it was unlikely to be a problem, but advice would be sought about process. She heard nothing till four months later after she had spoken to the local council scrutiny committee the convictions were added later to accusations relating to her union activities.

Judge Jonathan Ferris picked up on the point that it had taken just five days to present the charges relating to the other accusations against Ms Monro but took 80 days (from March) relating to the convictions question.

Professor Jo Martin, Director of Academic Health Sciences at Barts Health NHS Trust, who chaired Ms Monro’s appeal put the delay down to the Human Resources department at the time.

She went onto to stress the seriousness of the convictions and failure to disclose as reasons for dismissal. Ms Martin denied there was any political element to the dismissal.

The judge probed the lack of guidelines on the part of the Trust, leading to confusion over questions like what was meant by multiple convictions

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