Ex-Newport council worker has racism claim thrown out
A social worker who was sacked for fiddling his expenses had his claim for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination thrown out yesterday.
Rainier Patterson, 52, claimed he was unfairly dismissed by Newport Council in January of this year.
But an employment tribunal judge in Cardiff said the father-of-two had made a "deliberate attempt" to claim expenses he was not entitled to and dismissed allegations he was racially discriminated against by staff.
The tribunal heard Mr Patterson regularly had his diary open on the wrong page and completed expense forms in a rush, claiming mileage expenses for journeys which were either not carried out or were not made on official council business.
Head of children's services John Nicholson found Mr Patterson had committed gross misconduct which led to him losing his job.
The tribunal heard the expenses issue would have been investigated in any event and his line manager Elizabeth Best had "no obligation" to meet him before it was.
Members of the tribunal panel were in "no doubt" claims for two journeys to Dorset were made "deliberately falsely" and nine unexplained visits to Chepstow "probably never took place."
"None of the claimant's claims had any realistic prospect of succeeding," employment judge Paul Cadney said.
Newport council's lawyer Angus Halden asked the tribunal to order Mr Patterson to contribute £5,050 to the council's legal costs, because he had brought the claim by "spraying around a general allegation of institutional racism."
"This was a claim which should have never been made," he added.
Duncan Edwards, for Mr Patterson, said his client was not allowed to explain what he was doing with his expenses.
"He had a genuine belief that he had suffered less favourable treatment," Mr Edwards added.
Mr Patterson escaped paying costs as the tribunal found he had no means to pay, as he been unable to find work since he lost his job.
Mr Cadney added it was an "extremely sad case" arising out of the false expenses claims as Mr Patterson's devotion to his job was never in doubt.
'No foundation to race claim' - Newport council
After the case, a Newport council spokeswoman said: "We are obviously pleased that the tribunal completely exonerated council officers of all the allegations made against them, especially the racial discrimination claims.
"We do not tolerate any form of discrimination and take all such claims extremely seriously. In this case it was proved that they had absolutely no foundation."