Sacked clerk vows to fight on

Erbie Murat
Erbie Murat
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Mr Murat was summarily dismissed last week after an extraordinary meeting of the full council ratified a recommendation by a disciplinary hearing, which found he was guilty of three out of five counts of gross misconduct.

He said: “I believed the meeting was just an investigative one. I was totally, totally gobsmacked when I received my letter of dismissal hand delivered through my door. I was not expecting it.”

Mr Murat accused the town council of failing to follow its own disciplinary processes and said he submitted a 27-page appeal document to the council chamber on Friday.

The council now has 14 days to agree a date for an appeal hearing, but Mr Murat said: “I don’t want to pre-empt anything, but to be honest I don’t expect them to overturn the current decision, which means really very sadly it will have to be brought into the public domain and go to an employment tribunal.”

Mr Murat is confident he will win a tribunal and such a result will land the council with a hefty legal bill, not only for their own expenses but also his costs.

If he loses he will have to pick up the council bill as well as his own costs, but he is confident it’s a risk worth taking as he believes he will win and he will be able to return to work.

“All I want is to be re-instated. I would go back to work and doing my job in a heartbeat. I believe the council have been out to get rid of me from the beginning. Every time I knocked one allegation down they put another one up. It has been never ending, there are 26 matters in total that Wisbech Town Council have refused to address which includes an email of complaint from me,” said Mr Murat, who is adamant he has done nothing wrong.

The council voted to summarily dismiss him after agreeing with the disciplinary panel’s findings: that Mr Murat caused or permitted unauthorised persons to have access to the IT system of Wisbech Town Council; Mr Murat breached or knowlingly allowed or permitted to be breached the security of Wisbech Town Council’s computer system; Mr Murat caused or allowed the compilation and retention of data on Wisbech Town Council’s IT system about third parties without those parties’ knowledge or consent thereby breaching data protection legislation.

But Mr Murat claims the “unauthorised person” was his son who was allowed to access games on his father’s computer and said at no time was the council’s security breached.

He admitted he had stored personal data on the computer but said he had permission from the late Councillor Roger Green and that former town councillor Patrick O’Dell had heard Mr Green give that permission. Mr O’Dell was a witness in Mr Murat’s defence.

Mr Murat also counter-claims that the council has breached data protection legislation by allowing a third party to see the personal information stored on his computer without his permission. And he said the information was only stored as a back-up to his home system which was “playing up”.

He also accused the council of dragging its feet in dealing the issue and claims that his initial suspension, back in January, had stemmed from him “simply trying to do my job”.

“I acted to prevent an insurance fraud and claiming money back which was owed to the council. If I had failed to take that action then that would have been a dereliction of duty and they would have had cause to sack me,” said Mr Murat.