The HSE is to pay upwards of €200,000 legal costs on top of a €200,000 compensation award for the wrongful constructive dismissal of its 49-year-old former head of ambulance services, Frank McClintock.
Judge Alan Mahon was told in the Circuit Civil Court today that the parties had agreed to accept his earlier determination of a €250,000 award less a contributory factor of €50,000 to mark McClintock’s pre-dismissal personal use of a HSE fuel card.
Frank Callanan, SC, for Mr McClintock, told the judge the parties had reached agreement on the basis of the court’s determination late last year.
“The only order required is one directing payment of the claimant’s costs to include reserved costs and costs of discovery when taxed and ascertained,” he said.
The cost to the HSE of the 11-day court hearing and an earlier four-day hearing in the Employment Appeals Tribunal is estimated to top the €200,000 mark.
McClintock, who lives in Derry, was sacked for the improper personal use of a fuel card. The Employment Appeals Tribunal found that, although constructively dismissed, he was not deserving of any compensation because of “pre-dismissal events.”
He appealed the no-compensation decision to the Circuit Civil Court. John O’Donnell, SC, for the HSE, had counter appealed and had asked Judge Mahon to overturn the Tribunal’s finding of constructive dismissal.
Judge Mahon found that McClintock’s use of the fuel card for his private car was inappropriate and that he would probably have faced suspension or indeed dismissal in any internal inquiry. Fearing suspension and dismissal, involving threatened garda intervention, he had resigned.
The judge said Mr McClintock’s anxiety to resign was a consequence of his discovery at an early stage that he had been found guilty of very serious misconduct without having been afforded the opportunity to defend himself.
Mr McClintock’s resignation had not been voluntary and the court had held that his constructive dismissal had been close to castastrophic in terms of his future career.
Today’s hearing was listed specifically to deal with the matter of legal costs. The HSE had also been allowed time to consider whether or not to challenge the matter further.