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Woman wins employment tribunal after revealing how boss spent company money

An accounts manager has won an employment tribunal after she was sacked for revealing that her boss had spent company funds on his girlfriend.

Angela Curtis had raised concerns with the chairman of Milltek Sport that the managing director Steve Pound was ‘fraudulently’ using a work credit card.

Financial records showed that Mr Pound had used the Derby firm’s money to upgrade to business class on flights, pay for parts of his vehicle and buy his partner gifts, reports Nottinghamshire Live.

The accounts and HR manager, who earns £33,000 a year, spotted that Mr Pound had used funds to pay for import fees and carriage charges when purchasing for his then-girlfriend while he was away abroad on work trips.

When Mr Pound realised that Ms Curtis had blown the whistle to Milltek Sport chairman Phillip Millington, he ’embellished’ evidence and ‘manipulated’ an investigation to get her fired from her position.

Now Ms Curtis, who worked at the sports car exhaust manufacturers in Derby for over four years, is in line to receive thousands in compensation.

She successful sued Milltek Sport for unfair dismissal and whistle blowing at Nottingham Employment Tribunal Centre, Nottingham.

The tribunal found Ms Curtis was a reliable witness whose story remained consistent while Mr Pound was an ‘unreliable and unsatisfactory’ witness.

Colleagues thought it was ‘common knowledge’ he was ‘seeing’ marketing manager Brittany Wagstaff as they were often spotted sharing cars, the tribunal found.

Mr Pound claims he is ‘happily married’.

It was heard that in January 2019 Ms Curtis spotted Mr Pound had spent £3,000 inappropriately on the work card.

A tribunal report said: “Her evidence is that she had some reservations about the manner in which Mr Pound was using company expenses; that she discovered that around £3,000 worth of expenses was owed by Mr Pound to the company.

“She had noticed Mr Pound was using expenses for personal use and when this was raised with him he repaid some of the sums but not all of them and he continued to owe about £3,000 to the company.”

She raised it with Mr Millington, who also expressed concern, and Mr Pound later caught wind of it following a coffee with another employee.

From then, he ‘unceremoniously’ suspended her publicly in the office over trumped up claims she was ‘spreading details of directors’ salaries’.

He accused her of going ‘behind his back’, then ‘manipulated and influenced’ an investigation by hiding and embellishing evidence to get Ms Curtis sacked in November 2019.

Ms Curtis said during the investigation she was signed off with stress.

She said: “The whole situation made me feel distressed and so I saw my GP about this. She signed me off with stress. I felt that I was under unnecessary and unfounded stress from the company for no genuine reason.”

Employment Judge Rachel Broughton said Mr Pound was ‘motivated’ to have Ms Curtis fired as she blew the whistle and influenced dismissing officer Robert Thorpe, who was junior to him.

Judge Broughton said: “In the circumstances, the tribunal conclude that Mr Pound had an unlawful motivation.

“The tribunal concludes he manipulated the evidence and because he was Mr Thorpe’s line manager and held a very senior position in the company, Mr Thorpe did not question the evidence he had been given.”

After her dismissal, Ms Curtis applied for around 400 jobs without success, even widening her geographical scope and applying for more junior positions.

Her search was hampered by the pandemic, it was heard.

Ms Curtis will receive around £7,000 from Milltek Sport plus an undecided fee for total loss of salary covering 17 months, which could take the overall compensation figure to around £40,000.

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