Former special school head wins maximum payout for unfair dismissal

The former head of a special school has won £62,680 at tribunal for being sacked unfairly.

Jim Hunter, 56, won the maximum award available for unfair dismissal after he was wrongly fired from his £40,000-a-year post at Kerelaw School, following allegations of gross misconduct against children with significant emotional, social and behavioural problems.

The Kerelaw Residential Unit in Stevenson, Ayrshire, was shut down in 2006 following a police investigation into child abuse. Two men, Matthew George and John Muldoon, were found guilty of physically and sexually abusing children in their care at Kerelaw.

Hunter, who was in charge of both the secure and open units at the school for vulnerable youngsters, was dismissed after claims that youngsters were “turned upside down, held by five members of staff and dumped in a cell”.

But the tribunal heard there was no evidence that Hunter had engaged in or witnessed the inappropriate restraint of young people.

He said: “I am naturally pleased with the decision. I look forward to the report of the independent inquiry on Kerelaw to provide insight into what really happened.”

Hunter’s dismissal was automatically unfair, the tribunal added, as there was an unreasonable delay in conducting his appeal, which took place over seven days between 2 December, 2005, and 31 August, 2006.

Earlier this year, another Glasgow tribunal ruled that Chris Johnson, 54, former deputy head of the school attached to the secure unit at Kerelaw, was unfairly dismissed, as Glasgow City Council had not investigated gross misconduct allegations sufficiently. A decision on compensation has yet to be made, according to The Scotsman.

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