Fennell, Letts and Wilson, Mental Health Tribunals (Law Society 2013):
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Crawford v Suffolk MH Partnership NHS Trust (2012) EWCA Civ 138, (2012) MHLO 14

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The employees had been dismissed for gross misconduct for restraining a patient on a chair which was tied to a table; they disputed the allegation that they tied the patient to the chair with a sheet. (1) The Employment Tribunal had been entitled to conclude that there had been two procedural errors (in failing to obtain the witness's first statement, and in carrying out a practical experiment on the chair without notification to the appellants) and that they were errors that a reasonable employer would not have made; although the ET went too far in saying no reasonable employer could have preferred the witness's evidence over the employees', this did not invalidate the finding of unfair dismissal. (2) The case was remitted to the ET to consider the Polkey point (reduction in compensation based on chance of dismissal following fair procedure) but the 25% reduction for contributory fault (failure to report the incident) was upheld. (3) (Obiter) The court expressed scepticism about the need for suspension during the disciplinary process, and stated that, as the conduct did not deserve the epithet 'criminal', the police should never have been involved: while the hospital must act transparently it also owes duties to long-serving staff.

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Hearing: 13/1/12

Judgment: 17/2/12

Before: Laws, Elias, Kitchin LJJ

Mr Robin Howard (instructed by Attwells Solicitors LLP) for the Appellant

Mr Peter Wallington QC (instructed by The Law Offices of Richard Hemmings) for the Respondent

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