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Dismissed race claim costs Barking and Dagenham council £47,696

PUBLISHED: 17:57 03 September 2009 | UPDATED: 10:57 11 August 2010

A FORMER council employee who accused the council of racism has been ordered to pay back thousands of pounds in legal costs. Nina Murray, of Tottenham, who took the council to an employment tribunal which cost the taxpayer £47,696, has had her claim thro

A FORMER council employee who accused the council of racism has been ordered to pay back thousands of pounds in legal costs.

Nina Murray, of Tottenham, who took the council to an employment tribunal which cost the taxpayer £47,696, has had her claim thrown out and will have to repay the council £4,500 because her allegations were described as vexatious.

She made a claim for unfair dismissal on the grounds of disability and race discrimination, based on three allegations that had been struck out in previous hearings, and a fourth one - the council's delay to offer her redeployment after she had been dismissed.

Two pre-hearing reviews, two public hearings, document bundles and case reviews later, the council has had to spend £47,696 to fight off her allegations.

Mrs Murray was working for the council's social services department, where she was dismissed in December 2006 for reasons that were not mentioned at the substantial pre-hearing review at Stratford Employment tribunal last Wednesday (August 26).

Previous hearings had concluded that she had been legitimately suspended from her position.

She lodged her first complaint with the council in February 2007, when she wrote a grievance letter to start the proceedings in which she made the first allegations of discrimination, and claimed that she was being treated unfavourably because she was black.

She also claimed that the chief executive of the council has orchestrated a campaign against her and that other staff had been ordered not to speak to her.

These claims had been found to be untrue and were struck out by other judges at previous tribunals.

Her second complaint was lodged after she had been offered to return to work at Barking and Dagenham council in July last year.

Mrs Murray claimed that because of the council's delay in registering her with the general social care council she was demoted in her position to NVQ level.

Mr Akin, Mrs Murray's solicitor, said: "She returned on July 2 last year as family contact support co-ordinator at NVQ level - that in itself was a demotion.

"The first claim may not have been accepted. It was made in good faith.

"But the length of time of suspension was never investigated."

He claimed that because the second claim had been derived from the narrative of previous cases - although it was not mentioned in her original letter of grievance - it could still be counted as a claim.

When Mr Porter, the counsel for Barking and Dagenham Council, made his submission before Judge Burgher, he said: "Any reading of that letter does not raise the complaint that has now been identified."

He said previous tribunals had concluded that she had not been victimised or discriminated against and that her allegations had been found to be "devoid of reality."

She had acted vexatiously and harassed her employer by knowingly making these claims although she had been told in previous hearings that her prospects of success were little.

The claim about the delay did not qualify for protection under the Race Relations Act because her allegations had not been made in good faith, Mr Porter said.

He also made a submission for repayment of £10,000 of costs incurred to the council.

Judge Benjimin Burgher did not uphold Mrs Murray's claim and ordered her to repay £4,500 to the council.


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