Scottish Borders Council ‘woefully inadequate’ and ‘utterly shameful’, says employment tribunal judge.

Anthony Carson (above) said “this is another reminder of how important it is, even for senior managers, to join a trade union”

Anthony Carson, who is a UNISON member, has been awarded £56,581 by an employment tribunal, the highest award possible in his case. Anthony successfully claimed that he was unfairly dismissed by Scottish Borders Council.

The employment tribunal judge stated that Scottish Borders Council had run “one of the most woefully inadequate investigations of misconduct I have ever come across” and that “the standard of the investigation in this case was utterly shameful” and “biased”. The judge said that he found the council officers who were dealing with the case to be “unreliable and failed to answer questions openly and honestly” at the tribunal.

UNISON officials and an experienced employment solicitors say this is one of the most scathing judgements they have seen in 25 years of practice.

UNISON spoke to senior managers, lawyers and councillors at Scottish Borders Council a number of times to ask them to re-examine the case because it was so obviously wrong, but in all cases they refused.

Anthony Carson was a Regulatory Services Manager since 2011 he ran the council’s environmental health services. He had an exemplary employment record. No formal or informal complaints had been made against him. He was told a number of allegations had been made against him about his management style. He agreed to go to meetings to discuss these issues. But he was suspended before the meetings took place. He was dismissed in December 2016. He was never properly made aware of what the allegations were. He denied any wrong doing. The employment tribunal judge agreed with Anthony Carson.

Janet Stewart, UNISON regional organiser who represented Anthony said: “I am an experienced union official and I have never seen such a seriously damning verdict. This is a serious case. Scottish Borders Council conduct disciplinary procedures in a superficial manner. This must change. They do not give their employees the respect of a proper robust process. This case reminds them they are not above the law and it must act as a wake up call”

Janet also said: “Anthony had an unblemished employment record and Scottish Border Council have destroyed his career and have cost Scottish Borders’ council tax payers £56,000 in the process.”

Thompsons Solicitors who represented Mr Carson, said: “This is one of the most scathing judgements we have seen from an employment tribunal. The judge finds that Scottish Borders Council have failed in almost every regard in terms of the investigation, the disciplinary decision, the process and lack of natural justice. They agreed with every criticism we made in this case.”

Anthony Carson, UNISON member and appellant said: ”This has been very stressful. I am pleased that the tribunal agreed with me but it’s difficult to take pleasure from this decision as I lost my job, it has ruined my career, and they put me through a lot of stress. I want to thank Thompson Solicitors and UNISON for representing me. This is another reminder how important it is, even for senior managers, to join a trade union.”

Notes to editors:

The ET judgement Ref: J17G0222 will go online at in 3-5 weeks. UNISON can send a copy of the full decision on request.

UNISON are the biggest trade union in Scotland. We are the public services trade union and we are the biggest trade union in Scottish Borders Council.

Thompsons Solicitors are an independent legal firm who specialise in employment law and act as UNISON’s lawyers. Anthony Carson was a UNISON member and was represented by UNISON. Once Anthony had to claim unfair dismissal UNISON referred his case to Thompson Solicitors to represent him on their behalf. As per our normal procedure.

Anthony was a principal environment health officer before he became a regulatory services manager.

UNISON contacts:
Janet Stewart, regional organiser: 07958 121120
Greig Kelbie, area organiser: 07415 709746
Danny Phillips, communications officer: 07944 664110