Worker was the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’
A sacked employee at a prestigious Suffolk golf club who raised concerns about her colleague's alleged inappropriate relationship with a club member was the victim of a 'witch-hunt', a tribunal heard.
Employment judge Robin Postle ruled that Aldeburgh Golf Club's dismissal of Margaret Chadwick as assistant secretary in October 2012 was unfair.
She has received a settlement of more than £50,000 from the club.
The tribunal in Bury St Edmunds heard that Mrs Chadwick, a grandmother from Laxfield, began the role in May 2008.
Judge Postle said that although she received a 'substantial pay rise' in late 2011, and was well thought of, her performance was criticised 'within weeks' of a new secretary starting in April 2012.
Bill Beckett, whose 'dictatorial manner' had previously earned him the nickname of 'Ayatollah', criticised Mrs Chadwick's performance and set her goals to achieve 'without any thought as to whether they were achievable', Judge Postle said.
Mr Beckett sent Mrs Chadwick a written warning in June and gave her four weeks to improve.
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She appealed against the warning to the then club captain, Steve Beaumont, and issued a formal complaint about Mr Beckett's 'aggressive and bullying behaviour'.
Mr Beaumont rejected the misconduct claim 'as there had been no physical violence'. This, Judge Postle said, showed 'amazing ignorance, naivety and total misunderstanding of bullying and harassment'.
In August, Mrs Chadwick, claimed to have seen evidence of inappropriate behaviour between Mr Beckett and a female member, which she raised informally with the club. Soon after, she was suspended for making 'unprofessional and unfounded remarks' about Mr Beckett and escorted from the premises.
She was dismissed on October 24.
Mr Beckett and the female member both 'categorically, vehemently and consistently' denied the allegations.
Judge Postle said Mrs Chadwick was the victim of a 'witch-hunt'.
He said the club's investigation of the matter was 'somewhat one-sided' and its conclusions 'irrational and unreasonable'.
Mrs Chadwick, speaking after the hearing, said it had been a 'terrible ordeal'.
'I'm not jumping for joy – I would rather have kept my job,' she said.
'But here we are and at least justice has been done –it's a wonderful system.'
Tim Rowan-Robinson, the club captain, said: '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.'
Mr Rowan-Robinson said staff welfare was of 'paramount importance' to the club and its members.