Force recoups fraction of £577m employment tribunal costs

The former head of legal services for Northumbria Police has been told she must pay the force £15,000 – less than three per cent of what the force applied for – after losing a high profile employment tribunal case.

Jan 16, 2018

The former head of legal services for Northumbria Police has been told she must pay the force £15,000 – less than three per cent of what the force applied for – after losing a high profile employment tribunal case. Denise Aubrey, 56, claimed she was unfairly dismissed in 2014 after disclosing private information to staff. She also said sex discrimination and victimisation were rife in the force. However, in August 2015, the tribunal found she was not treated unfairly and dismissed her claims. She also lost a subsequent appeal against the decision. Northumbria Police spent more than £577,000 defending itself during the tribunal, but will only receive 2.6 per cent of its claim. The force said the £15,000 will be invested into policing. During last year’s tribunal hearing, Ms Aubrey made a number of damaging claims about former members of the force, including allegations of affairs, a fight at a barbecue and public money being spent on a cover-up. Former Chief Constable Sue Sim gave evidence in support of the former legal chief, and accused Chief Constable Steve Ashman of potentially obstructing an investigation by refusing to record her allegations of sexism against senior members of the force. Mr Ashman said many of the allegations from Ms Aubrey and Ms Sim were based on “speculation, rumour and innuendo”. Immediately after the hearing, Northumbria Police launched a costs application. Ms Aubrey said that in her experience of working for Northumbria Police, it never once made an application for costs following a tribunal claim. “It is seeking to recover over £577,000, which it knows I cannot pay. My legal costs did not exceed £40,000,” she added. Responding to the costs application ruling, a force spokesperson said: “We welcome the ruling of the judge and are glad that some of the money spent on defending the force against these allegations will be returned. “The decision by the tribunal panel to dismiss the case should go a long way to maintaining public-confidence in the way Northumbria Police goes about delivering its public service. “It would have been unconscionable for us not to seek reimbursement on behalf of our local communities and this much-needed money will now be reinvested back into policing. “The decision by the judge allows us to move on and do what we do best – to protect the people of Northumbria and serve our local communities with pride.”

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