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I've been dismissed for gross misconduct/whistle blowing

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I have been dismissed from my job in the civil service for gross misconduct. I’ve been to see a solicitor and he thinks I may have a case for unfair dismissal as well as whistle blowing.


The facts.

I accessed a system I shouldn’t have. I didn’t change anything or add/delete anything and didn’t pass any information on to anyone I shouldn’t have. But....

I shouldn’t have accessed the system.


There are (what I consider to be) mitigating circumstances of which I won’t go into great detail on here as its a public forum because I don’t know if I’m allowed to or not.


Basically.... A customer was having difficulty with our department. I accessed the system to make sure problems were being recorded correctly and that this customer wasn’t being discriminated against. I did this over a course of approximately a year.


It was done openly. I have nothing to hide. I informed my line manager of the difficulties this customer was facing. I also informed the manager above her. Everyone within the office knew of this customers difficulties. Because things kept going wrong for this customer I voiced my concerns about the way in which the system works and the affect that this ‘treatment’ may have further reaching affects not just for this customer but for ALL customers especially those who are considered vulnerable (disabled).


The manager sent emails to the relevant department voicing her concerns over this customer. The matter wasn’t address. I went to see the manager again who advised me to see my local MP.

I did. He wrote a letter to the department concerned and the matter concerning the vulnerable customer was sorted out. The department wrote a letter to the customer acknowledging the fact that his treatment had been wrong and that the department had made ‘several errors in the handling of this customer’.




I get a letter from the investigation team. They are investigating me for unauthorised system access BECAUSE they have received a letter from the MP.


They interview me. I admit to accessing the system and try to explain why I did it. I also tell them that although I’m emailed security newsletters surrounding system access, I don’t get chance to actually read them due to the nature of my work and how busy and under pressure our department is.

I also told them....

That the failings within the relevant department are well known in the office and our customers are suffering badly as a result.

My son who is disabled needs a lot of attention from me. (I’m a single parent)

That I work one full time job (with them) and a part time weekend job. 58hrs per week.

That my mother has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, has had a mastectomy and that for the past year she has been very ill.... that they have recently found another 3 lumps although this time in her spine.

That because of the type of cancer she has it may have been passed on to me and my children. (I went for some tests and so far I’m clear)

I didn’t go into any great detail about my personal circumstances. I did however tell the interviewer that I wasn’t aware of just how serious accessing the system was as I only did it to give the information to the customer it concerned.

I really didn’t realise that what I was doing was wrong.


I’m then left to stew over Christmas whilst they investigate the facts. They didn’t suspend me.


Beginning of February I’m called up for a meeting with the decision maker.


I apologise for the wrong doing and tell him all about my personal circumstances.... ie... working all hours to keep my AND my sons household. My mothers condition, the stresses I’ve been under and I offer to provide written evidence to back up everything I’ve said. He refuses the written evidence.


7 days later I get a letter of dismissal for gross misconduct.


I’ve asked for an (internal) appeal.


I have lots of notes as I’ve been trawling the internet... the only trouble is I really am no good at putting my point across.

I’ve seen a solicitor who seems to think I have a case for unfair dismissal as well as a PIDA, thing is... I can’t afford to hire the solicitor as I now only work part time (18 hrs). The first consultation with the solicitor has just cost me £176.


My questions....

If the department thought I was doing something so wrong as to warrant ‘gross misconduct’ charges shouldn’t they have suspended me instead of leaving me in the same job.... or at the very least, shouldn’t they have changed my access levels?


Shouldn’t the decision maker accept my offer of written evidence?


Should I have been dismissed on these facts considering my ‘excellent’ work record (scored top for the last 4 years) shouldn’t they have just given me a final written warning? (I've been there for 9 years and never been in trouble for anything)

Although I have no evidence of this I know that other employees have been given lesser penalties for doing the same thing.


Surely my department were in the wrong for investigating? Given the fact I had made a ‘protected disclosure’ in the correct way.... ie.... line manager, manager and then MP (under advisement of the manager)


I was never given time away from my desk to read the security newsletters which gave information on system access. And that the last ‘e-learning’ package I undertook was on security for which I only scored around 50% (this last fact has never been picked up or actioned) On entering this particular system a warning comes up.... ‘this system holds personal data on customers and must only be used for the purpose it was recorded’ Which is what I did.


I need some help in putting together a letter for my appeal......... I just don’t know how to do it or what to expect or anything really.

I just want my job back


The work of the whole team is now suffering because no one is quite sure on how to do my job. My manager wants me back and my line manger has told everyone not to move my chair because I’ll need it when I go back to work.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Edited by mandy777uk
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Hello Mandy. I've just tried to read your post, as we like to be helpful here, but to be honest it's difficult to read and I stopped before the end because it was giving me a headache.


I see you're brand new to the site and may not know that you're able to view posts before and after you make them.


I don't know if this is copied from somewhere and would be difficult for you to amend, but I think if you could make this more user-friendly, it would help you get more advice.


Just my opinion...... :)

Illegitimi non carborundum




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If the system allowed you access to this information with your current access levels, and you were not abusing the information (on the contrary it was to help the subject) then I fail to see what grounds they have dismissed on.


I guess you are not in a Union?

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What to expect is this:


It would depend on the nature of the data you were viewing and whether the reason for your viewing the data was in the remit of your job. Although you will be given access, it is only to be used for "intended purposes" for example, if the reason you had access was to view/print a screen for a particular piece of evidence in the case of an application (benefit, for example), and you used it in the event that there was no such application, then yes it is labelled "gross misconduct" as you are not viewing it for the purpose it is intended for you. If say, it is another staff members duty to investigate potential discrimination against a customer and that information is being recorded accurately, and you did this when it is not in your remit, that would also be "gross misconduct", as realistically speaking you should pass any concerns onto the people who do deal with it and leave it to them, if not actioned, inform your line manager of your concerns. If not actioned, go higher. You did all of these things but the mistake you made was to continually access a system for reasons that were not for the purpose they were intended and within the remit of others. Also be aware, that in some offices (and the civil service also might be the same) every time you log on, a message pops up on screen, along the lines of that you understand what you can access and why, ect and you have to click "ok" before continuing. This will also be one of their points for argument, that every time you logged on, you agreed to use the system securely, in the manner that you are permitted to use it. (They can trace these clicks via audit checks).


What you fight on is this:


Now, in all of this, you say you let your line manager and the manager above her know about the customer's difficulties. Did you at any point tell them what you were doing in order to address the problem and raise your concerns, i.e: accessing this particular system? If so, or if there was another way they must have known, such as your system access came up on an audit (or similar key stroke checking programme) the internal appeal needs to consider why you were not disciplined (or invited for an informal chat) at that stage by management who should know that accessing that particular system is a disciplinary offence.


What they should also do, is consider the evidence re the security bulletins/training. You haven't been given time to study them; has any of your line managers asked you to confirm wither by email or by signature that you have read them? If not, why not, as they should be passing these assurances on as their evidence that there staff are kept up to date. If they have asked for confirmation, have you given it? (If you have, whether you have actually read them will mean nothing; from their point of view you will have provided an "assurance" that you have). If they have asked for confirmation and you did not give it, why did they not follow up in this, again, have a chat with you, and record that chat? In the one you did study, you scored 50%. Was a copy of this provided to your line manager? If so, why did your line manager not identify a "training need" and action it?


One of the crux's in this situation is that you cannot be aware of what you can and cannot access legitimately, unless you are informed of such, and your line manager is assured that you have read and understood the bulletin.


Hope this helps. In regard to your financial issue, you may be able to qualify for some (or full) funding. It's called "legal advice and assistance" and is for any advice your solicitor offers you, or letters he writes ect. It is different to legal aid which is for fighting a case in court. I had a civil case which I needed advice and assistance for, I had to pay a maximum £25.00 contribution once - that included all letters and advice during the course that I used the solicitor, and I work full time, so on your part time wage, it might be worth looking at.

My advice is based on my opinion, my experience and my education. I do not profess to be an expert in any given field. If requested, I will provide a link where possible to relevant legislation or guidance, so that advice provided can be confirmed and I do encourage others to follow those links for their own peace of mind. Sometimes my advice is not what people necesserily want to hear, but I will advise on facts as I know them - although it may not be what a person wants to hear it helps to know where you stand. Advice on the internet should never be a substitute for advice from your own legal professional with full knowledge of your individual case.



Please do not seek, offer or produce advice on a consumer issue via private message; it is against

forum rules to advise via private message, therefore pm's requesting private advice will not receive a response.

(exceptions for prior authorisation)





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