Judge orders charity to pay over £40,000 to former director over unfair dismissal

01 Jun 2022 News

A judge has ordered a Scottish charity to pay more than £40,000 to its former chief executive after it concluded that he had been unfairly dismissed. 

In March 2020, large Scottish grantmaker the Robertson Trust sacked Kenneth Ferguson, who then took legal action against the charity on grounds that he was unfairly dismissed over his views on same-sex marriage.

‘Excellent’ service

At a previous hearing, an employment tribunal heard that Shonaig Macpherson, the former chair of the trust, objected to Ferguson’s beliefs. Macpherson also became angry when she discovered that Ferguson had been hiring the trust’s premises and using them as an elder of Stirling Free Church, which opposes abortions and same-sex weddings.

The trust denied the claims, saying the dismissal was based on “continued, and documented, underperformance”.

In 2021, the employment tribunal concluded that Macpherson’s testimony was unreliable and that the vast majority of Ferguson’s nine years of service at the trust was regarded as being “at least good, if not excellent”.  

In the final hearing published recently, the court ordered the charity’s trustees and Macpherson to pay Ferguson a combined £35,107 as well as an extra £6,522 payable by the trustees alone.

Independent review ‘underway’

The trust said that an “independent review is underway to ensure the key lessons are learned”.

It said in a statement published on its website: “Whilst we remain saddened by the tribunal’s decision, we fully acknowledge the earlier judgment and the remedies set today. 

“We will see that they are paid without delay so that we may put this matter firmly behind us and turn our full attention and resources to supporting people and places facing poverty and trauma in Scotland.”

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