Wisbech Town Council Clerk Erbie Murat was summarily dismissed last night (Monday) after councillors agreed he was guilty of gross misconduct.
The sacking came more than 10 months after Mr Murat was originally suspended from his post and follows a lengthy investigation into a series of allegations.
A disciplinary panel chaired by Councillor Steve Tierney, the council’s staff committee chairman, spent more than three hours yesterday morning hearing the case made up of five allegations against Mr Murat, who attended along with two witnesses and a legal adviser. The council had one witness as well as their solicitor present.
At the end of the hearing the panel, which included relative newcomers to the council Garry Tibbs and Michelle Tanfield, took just over an hour to reach a conclusion finding three of the five allegations proved.
They are: Mr Murat caused or permitted unauthorised persons to have access to the IT system of Wisbech Town Council; Mr Murat breached or knowingly 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.
Mr Murat was the council’s legal officer and was therefore responsible for data protection.
The five allegations heard yesterday date from the summer and superseded the 12 original allegations for which Mr Murat was suspended in January.
The panel’s decision was unanimously ratified at a full council meeting last night and Mr Murat was notified of his dismissal by letter hand delivered to his home immediately after the meeting.
He now has a short period to appeal the decision and three councillors left last night’s meeting before the matter was discussed to ensure they are not prejudiced if Mr Murat decides to exercise his right to appeal and another panel is needed.
Speaking this morning Mr Tierney said: “It has taken 10 months to conclude the issue, which is not unusual in staffing matters. It has been difficult because we have not been able to comment during that time because of the legal situation. It is not because we have not wanted to speak, but because we have been unable to. We have been very careful to follow legal advice throughout.”
He explained the panel had been given legal advice on the sanctions available to them.
“We decided the cost and damage to the council both in the past and in the future merited summary dismissal. And this was decision unanimously agreed by all councillors, of all parties, following a very rigorous questioning session at the council meeting,” said Mr Tierney.