Employee fairly dismissed for alleged theft despite acquittal in criminal proceedings

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The Court of Appeal has held that an employee who was acquitted of theft in criminal proceedings had been fairly dismissed by his employer. The court held that the employer had conducted a reasonable investigation and formed a reasonable view as to the employee’s credibility. As such, it had not been obliged to conduct the additional investigations suggested by the claimant during the course of the proceedings (Stuart v London City Airport).

The claimant was employed by the respondent, London City Airport, from October 2005 until he was dismissed with effect from 19 January 2010. During a work break, the claimant visited Nuance, the airport’s duty-free shop. He was suspected of stealing goods and was apprehended by the police at a shop next door. He was suspended by the respondent and a disciplinary process was started.

As part of the disciplinary process, the respondent obtained witness statements from two of Nuance’s employees. The first employee, A, said she saw the claimant with an item concealed under his jacket. The second employee, G, said that once the claimant had left the shop, he called the police, who searched the claimant and found that he had items for which he had not paid. The claimant’s version of events was that he had intended to pay for the items but had simply stepped away to speak to a colleague and then to purchase a drink from WH Smith next door. However, he believed that he had not left the duty-free shopping area…

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