Heather Platt has won £45,000 compensation for a direct access client who resigned from his job at HMRC after being accused of money laundering and benefit fraud. Heather represented the Claimant, Mr Hussain, in an unusual case of constructive unfair dismissal. Mr Hussain placed £10,000 in cash in the basement of HMRC building where he worked for safekeeping whilst his flat was on the market. It was discovered by contractors. HMRC seized the money and even though they believed the money was his, HMRC applied to forfeit the money as if it were proceeds of crime. Mr Hussain had 23 years’ exemplary work record and had been a competent and diligent employee. Mr Hussain and his sister were made homeless as he could not afford the purchase price of his flat because the HMRC had seized his £10,000. The Magistrates’ court matter was eventually dropped by HMRC as there was no evidence of any unlawful conduct by Mr Hussain. Employment Judge Grewal found that there was no evidence that the Claimant had acted fraudulently by stealing money from his disabled sister and that it was a very hurtful and serious allegation to make in the absence of evidence to support it.
Employment Judge Grewal found that HMRC presumed at the outset that the cash was the proceeds of crime and that the Claimant had been engaged in unlawful criminal conduct, it seized, detained and applied for forfeiture of the cash in the magistrates court and started disciplinary proceedings on that basis when it did not have reasonable grounds to do so and his manager of many years believed that he had not committed any criminal offence, it did not follow its disciplinary procedure, his managers were sidelined. The process was protracted and it had a detrimental effect on his health and wellbeing. The tribunal found that the Respondent, without reasonable or proper cause conducted itself in a manner likely to seriously damage the relationship of trust and confidence between it and the Claimant and the Respondent acted in breach of the implied term of trust and confidence and the Claimant resigned in response to that breach.
Mr Hussain said he was “delighted with the result”. To view the judgment in full please click here.