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Saturday 26 July 2014

Identities of staff who ‘exchanged lewd pornography’ sought by sacked Bank of Ireland manager

Ray Managh

Published 25/04/2013|14:33

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James Reilly pictured at the Employment appeals tribunal

THE identities of dozens of Bank of Ireland employees, managers and top executives, alleged to have exchanged lewd pornographic e-mails, are to be sought publicly in a fight by a sacked manager to retain his reinstated status.

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Barrister Johanna Ronan-Mehigan told the Circuit Civil Court today that to date they had hidden behind the cloak of anonymity in Employment Appeals Tribunal proceedings.

“I want them named so that I can subpoena them to give evidence in this court and I will be bringing a discovery motion to find out who they are,” she told Judge Matthew Deery.

Ms Ronan-Mehigan represents manager James Reilly, Edgewood Lawn, Blanchardstown, Dublin, who was sacked from his position with the Bank of Ireland at Main Street, Blanchardstown, in August 2009 for circulating “obscene and offensive” emails.

The Tribunal found he had been unfairly dismissed and directed that he be reinstated to his old job, a decision now being appealed by Bank of Ireland.  The Tribunal heard that at least 150 employees were on the list of people who exchanged porn e-mails.

Reilly told the Tribunal he had forwarded e-mails, described as pornographic, rude, racist and sexist, often without looking at them, to other male staff in order to mask his homosexuality.

Ms Ronan-Mehigan said Mr Reilly had been fully reinstated following a seven-day trial before the Employment Appeals Tribunal. 

“The emails were sent to my client’s computer inbox and they came from Baggot Street down,” she said.  “That is why Mr Reilly was dismissed.  Many others were not fired.”

She told Judge Deery she wanted them named and if this was not done voluntarily by the bank she would be bringing a motion of discovery to find out who they are so she could subpoena them.

“There is no stay on the Tribunal’s reinstatement order yet my client is not receiving any pay and cannot meet the repayments on his Bank of Ireland mortgage,” Ms Ronan-Mehigan said.  “The bank is threatening to repossess his home.”

The Tribunal decided that the outcome of an in-house disciplinary process was predetermined.  The Bank’s Group Human Resources had decided the dismissal outcome from the outset.

It concluded that large numbers of “inappropriate” e-mails had been sent by and to large numbers of bank employees on a near daily basis as part of some kind of male bonding behaviour and as an expression of machismo.

Mr Reilly had been selected for dismissal without sufficient rationality because the bank had not pursued any action against other clearly identifiable employees

Today’s court appeal was adjourned to allow the parties discuss the possibility of voluntary discovery or permit time for the bringing of a motion directing discovery and the naming of other as yet unidentified employees caught in the chain of e-mail exchanges.

The EAT had heard that at least one of a series of obscene e-mails originated in the bank’s Baggott Street, Dublin, head office.  One, from a member of staff in a top position, contained a picture of paedophile Gary Glitter holding a shopping bag altered to make it look like a child’s head was popping out.

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