Aberdeen Council Sex Case Manager Wins Case

A council manager forced to quit his job after complaining about senior colleagues having sex in the office has won his case for unfair dismissal.

Former leisure manager Tom McNeil, 52, was accused of breaching the confidentiality of a report by his employers at Aberdeen City Council.

He was also claimed to have made defamatory remarks about a woman he claimed to have seen engaged in a sexual act in the office.

Mr McNeil had lodged a complaint about the senior manager cavorting with another manager behind a partition.

He also complained that on another occasion, later that year in 2004, the female senior manager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was seen by Mr McNeil performing oral sex on then manager Brian Woodcock.

And he claimed Mr Woodcock then asked him “would you like a cup of tea and a piece of cake?” when he spotted him.

Mr McNeil reported both incidents to his bosses, including the chief executive of Aberdeen City Council – Douglas Paterson, but claimed he was then the victim of a witch hunt.

Mr McNeil, who worked with the council for 32 years, has been awarded £26,028 after taking the council to an employment tribunal in Aberdeen.

Today he described his win as “absolutely brilliant”.

He said: “The council has caused themselves damage yet again and the tax payers will be left to foot the bill for this 20-day tribunal.

“I was asked to run Garthdee Ski Slope and then bullied into getting the centre to make a profit. But it was in financial difficulties, I told them but they wouldn’t listen.

“There’s a bullying culture at the council from the top down, if you don’t believe their point of view you get kicked out.

“The staff are not to blame, they work really hard – this comes right from the top.

“This woman went to all costs to protect her lover, and she is still there when she should have been investigated.

“I had no choice but to leave. The allegations against me were scandalous. This has never been about the money, I just wanted to clear my name.”

The tribunal found that the relationship between the two managers, who were married to other partners at the time, was “well-known” to every senior manager and “probably to more than 90 per cent of their employees”.

And it was described by one witness as being “the talk of the steamie”.

Mr Woodcock, who was in charge of the Garthdee Ski Centre, was later suspended and investigated after allegations relating to financial matters but the other senior manager remains in employment at the council.

Mr Woodcock was then sacked from his post after allegedly sending “inappropriate” emails to the owner of the Garthdee Sports and Alpine Adventure centre in the city.

He later sued Aberdeen City Council and was awarded more than £100,000 in a settlement.

When Mr McNeil was given his role, he advised the council chief executive the £2.3 million ski centre would always run at a loss but was told to make it work.

The tribunal ruled that evidence given by chief executive Douglas Paterson was truthful but criticised him for his lack of recollection of crucial matters that he might have been expected to remember.

The tribunal heard how the council was involved in a “sex for favours” scandal and council solicitor, Mary Kearns, claimed Mr McNeil was one of the managers involved.

But Mr McNeil, now a business development manager, said he was subjected to a witch hunt because the chief executive wanted to get rid of him.

It was alleged he had breached the confidentiality of an investigation and had made “defamatory” remarks against the woman while expressing his concerns about the conduct of her relationship with Brian Woodcock in the workplace.

The female manager had also alleged that Mr McNeil was a “sexual harasser”.

The tribunal found that Mr McNeil should not have discussed a confidential report but held that his remarks were not defamatory due to the council not having investigated his claims the woman and Woodcock engaged in a sexual act in the council office.

It held that Mr McNeil was unfairly constructively dismissed by the council but awarded him half the compensation he was entitled to because he had contributed 50 per cent to his dismissal because of his conduct.