Thursday 23 October 2014

Bank manager sacked after 'forwarding lewd pornography' gets compensation

Published 18/02/2014 | 15:51

James Reilly pictured at the Employment appeals tribunal

A BANK of Ireland manager, sacked after he was identified as a link in an alleged pornographic chain of emails, has been awarded compensation by a Circuit Civil Court judge for unfair dismissal.

Judge Gerard Griffin, in a reserved judgment, said James Reilly, former manager in the bank’s Blanchardstown branch, had been unfairly dismissed due to the bank’s failure to follow proper procedures but refused to reinstate him to his old job.

 

The judge awarded Reilly compensation amounting to a year’s salary, 50 per cent of what he could have awarded him. He said Mr Reilly had contributed to his own downfall.

 

Bank of Ireland had challenged a decision from the Employment Appeals Tribunal which had earlier found Reilly had been unfairly dismissed and ordered the bank to reinstate him to his former position.

 

Reilly, of Edgewood Lawn, Blanchardstown, Dublin, was sacked in 2009 after an in-house investigation decided he had forwarded the emails to other staff and others associated with the bank.

 

Judge Griffin, who delivered his judgment today in Bray Circuit Court, had heard that an outside agency had complained to Bank of Ireland that its email system was being log-jammed by porn pictures emanating from the bank.

 

 During the appeal hearing Roughan Banim, S.C., who appeared with Joanna Ronan-Mehigan for Reilly, claimed that more than 150 other  bank staff had engaged in the exchange of the emails but none of them had been disciplined.

 

Reilly claimed in evidence that Bank of Ireland had threatened to re-possess his house because he was unable to meet repayments of a large sum of money he had borrowed from them while in his job.

 

He had accepted during the Tribunal hearing that he had forwarded “pornographic, rude, racist and sexist emails” he had received from other bank employees in order to mask his homosexuality.

 

The tribunal decided the outcome of an in-house disciplinary process by the bank had been predetermined and at least some of the key decision makers in the process had not exhibited the required independence.

 

Ms Rosemary Mallon, counsel for Bank of Ireland, had led a full appeal by the bank, which succeeded in overturning the Tribunal’s direction that Reilly be reinstated.  Judge Griffin awarded Reilly his costs.

 

One of the emails in circulation and presented before the court during an eight-day hearing, contained a picture of paedophile Gary Glitter on a shopping trip in the Far East with a child’s head appearing out of a shopping bag.

- Ray Managh

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