He was a technical director with 7 year’s service on a salary of approximately £200,000 per annum and a 12 month notice period. He was serving his notice by reason of redundancy when management decided to see what evidence they could find for dismissing any senior officer of the Club who would be on long notice for gross misconduct and thus saving the notice payments.
A firm of forensic investigators trawled through the email system. They found an email containing lewd images which had been received by the Claimant on 28th March 2008 (5 years earlier) which he had then forwarded on that same day. During the Court proceedings following his summary dismissal, it transpired he had also forwarded it onto a junior female employee of the Club and another colleague as well. The Court held that viewed objectively the conduct was sufficiently serious to warrant summary dismissal and it took particular note of the fact that by forwarding it onto a more junior colleague it exposed the employer to the risk of a sexual harassment claim.
The High Court rejected the Claimant’s argument that as he had worked for a further 5 1/2 years the conduct was not a breach of the implied term of trust and confidence. As the Club did not know of the breach of contract at the time it happened it was entitled to take action when it was discovered notwithstanding that the Club had gone digging for something.