EXCLUSIVE: Charity ordered to pay £130,000 after sacking whistleblowing Scottish director
The former Scottish director of a national charity has been granted major compensation for unfair dismissal after whistleblowing to funders
A UK charity has been told to pay almost £130,000 in compensation to a Scottish employee it sacked last year after he whistleblew to funders.
However, the payment to former Working on Wheels Sotland director Neil Logan, is now in doubt as the charity immediately announced its closure.
The National Playbus Association, which operates under the title of Working on Wheels, was instructed at an employment tribunal in Edinburgh on 13 December to pay Logan £129,544.37 after it was deemed to have unfairly dismissed him on 28 January 2016.
However the charity announced that it ceased trading as of 31 December and it is understood that it is likely to be liquidated in the next week, leaving Logan with an anxious wait to see what, if anything, he will receive as a creditor.
Speaking exclusively to TFN, Logan said he was dismissed after raising concerns about the charity to the Scottish Government, the charity's biggest funder.
“For me it was never about the amount of compensation it was all about clearing my name,” he said.
“My reputation and character were damaged by false allegations of gross misconduct which impacted on my relationships with funders and partner agencies within the sector. This has caused untold damage to me personally and professionally and something which I might well never recover from.”
Logan’s tribunal was heard by employment judge, James Hendry, who issued five separate fines to National Playbus Association adding up to the six-figure sum.
As well as compensation for loss of earnings, it included an award for injury to feelings for action taken following allegations of whistleblowing and disability discrimination after the organisation called Logan to a disciplinary hearing on the day he was due to be admitted to hospital for a hip-replacement operation.
Logan also told TFN the charity threatened to withdraw his sick pay and that two members of staff were disciplined for visiting him in hospital while he remained suspended.
I have tried my utmost to move on from this by creating a new community interest company and Street Assist Edinburgh but unfortunately with this all hanging over me since October 2015 it has proved near impossible to gain support from funders, and some partner agencies have point blank refused to meet with me - Neil Logan
The charity did not send a representative to attend the hearing and Hendry ruled National Playbus Association’s response to Logan’s claim of unfair dismissal had “no reasonable prospects of success.”
Logan, who was appointed by the charity in October 2008 and played a significant part in building it up from only two staff in Scotland to a major body employing 20 people and 50 volunteers. Under his leadership it won the contract to run the roadshow element of the Scottish Government’s PlayTalkRead campaign, which promotes positive parenting for young children. The PlayTalkRead bus travels Scotland offering play and reading activities in local communities.
Logan, who was initially suspended on 7 October 2015 and then dismissed in January 2016, says he was sacked after his relationship with the Bristol-based board of trustees broke down in April 2015.
He says things came to a head when he refused on two occasions to carry out instructions of the board regarding the sale of one of its vehicles and the appointment of a new driver which he said would result in the charity making a financial loss.
In September 2015, he reported concerns over how the charity was being run to the Scottish Government, including claiming that money awarded for PlayTalkRead was being spent south of the border.
At the time, he said he feared the charity would end up closing and default on the conditions of the funding awarded by the Scottish Government.
The charities accounts for the financial year ending March 2016, the year Logan was sacked, show an income of £778,476 and an overspend of £64,352. The accounts show that £674,449 of this income came from the Scottish Government to run the PlayTalkRead campaign.
The annual report for the year, published in December 2016, confirmed the trustees decision to close the charity because of its financial position.
Jackie Dorrian, a trustee of the National Playbus Association, declined to comment on Logan’s case but said: “National Playbus Association, after over 43 years, has closed the offices. The organisation is insolvent. This is a tragic shame as over the years we have supported many organisations to become mobile.”
Logan told TFN his life had been made miserable throughout the last year.
“Me and my wife have just plodded through life,” he said. “To do what they did to me during what was the most stressful part of my life in terms of facing major operations is hard to take, it just seemed like they did everything to make my life as uncomfortable as possible.
"I have tried my utmost to move on from this by creating a new community interest company and Street Assist Edinburgh but unfortunately with this all hanging over me since October 2015 it has proved near impossible to gain support from funders, and some partner agencies have point blank refused to meet with me.”
Logan was awarded £15,000 “for injury to feelings in relation to detriment suffered” following the whistleblowing allegations, £99,070 for being unfairly dismissed, of which £29,572 accounted for his loss in wages in 2016, £7,500 for “injury to feelings in relation to disability discrimination”, £6,057 for lack of notice, and a further £1,916 due to the charity failing “to provide him with written terms and conditions of employment”.
A tweet from the PlayTalkRead Twitter account on 4 January 2017 said the bus is currently off the road and no dates are confirmed for January.
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government, said: “We are working closely with Working on Wheels to ensure existing roadshow commitments are met. We are also exploring a variety of options to ensure the roadshow element of the PlayTalkRead campaign will continue.
“Our thoughts are with the employees and their families affected during this difficult time."