Paul Holcroft: Tribunal compensation limits increase

A grandmother has received a £50,000 payout after being suspended and then sacked from her position as assistant secretary of Aldeburgh Golf Club in Suffolk. Margaret Chadwick was suspended after mentioning to a lady club captain that members were gossiping about her and the club secretary, Bill Beckett. She also went on to say that she had seen the lady captain “trying to squeeze Mr Beckett’s bottom”. Mrs Chadwick was then suspended and escorted from the club for making ‘unprofessional and unfounded remarks’ and finally dismissed two months later.

At the employment tribunal, Mrs Chadwick claimed she was bullied by Mr Beckett within weeks of his arrival and had received no complaints about her work in the four years she had been there prior to the arrival of Mr Beckett. It was also stated that Mr Beckett had received the nickname ‘Ayatollah” from his previous club due to his ‘dictatorial manner’.

And when Mrs Chadwick appealed a written warning, the then club captain told her that Mr Becketts behaviour did not amount to bullying as “There has been no physical violence towards you.”. At the tribunal, Judge Postle, however, said that the captain had shown “amazing ignorance, naivety and total misunderstanding of bullying and harassment.”

The judge went on to say, “One cannot get away from the feeling that the claimant (Mrs Chadwick) was the victim of nothing short of a witch hunt, given the fact of her previous unblemished service prior to the arrival of Mr Beckett.”

Mr Beckett and the lady captain had “categorically, vehemently and consistently” denied Mrs Chadwick’s allegation of inappropriate behaviour and accused Mrs Chadwick of spreading rumours to discredit the club secretary. But the judge said the club’s investigation into Mrs Chadwick’s supposed misconduct was ‘somewhat one-sided and its conclusions ‘irrational and unreasonable.

After the verdict, Mrs Chadwick said, “I’m not jumping for joy – I would rather have kept my job. But here we are and at least justice has been done – it’s a wonderful system.

‘I still can’t believe it. I feel for everybody who can’t afford to go to an employment tribunal. They have to see that the justice system does work and how wonderful it is.”

Tim Rowan-Robinson, Captain of Aldeburgh Golf Club, said in a statement: ‘The Club has followed professional legal advice and acted in good faith throughout this whole process.

“The outcome of the Tribunal hearing was disappointing and was not the result we and our legal team had expected. The Club has now settled Mrs Chadwick’s claim which is covered by insurance.

‘The Club refutes claims over Secretary Bill Beckett’s behaviour which was fully investigated at the time.

‘This has been a trying time for all involved and we now want to put the matter firmly behind us.

‘We value our staff highly and their welfare has always been of paramount importance to the Club and its members. We continue to have full confidence in our Secretary Bill Beckett.’