Dog handler claims unfair dismissal

AN experienced prison dog handler was forced to resign from his job after he was taken off his duties and put back on routine work, an employment tribunal has heard.

AN experienced prison dog handler was forced to resign from his job after he was taken off his duties and put back on routine work, an employment tribunal has heard.

Danny Broderick served at Chelmsford Prison for more than 30 years and in 1994 he established the dog unit at the Essex jail.

But the former Irish Guardsman is claiming constructive dismissal against HM Prison Service, saying he had to resign after the governor, Ian West, took him off dog duties, claiming Mr Broderick was not prepared to work new shift patterns.

An employment tribunal in Stratford, East London, heard the case revolved around whether Mr Broderick had been permanently removed from dog handling duties and, if so, whether that amounted to a fundamental breach of his contract.

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Yesterday's court action was the latest episode in a long battle which has already seen a legal wrangle over whether Mr Broderick could keep his two drug detecting dogs, Toby and Harley.

Mr Broderick, of Boreham, near Chelmsford, told the tribunal he thought planned new shift patterns, as part “re-profiling”, were flawed but emphatically denied that was why he resigned in 2004.

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He said: “I left for the simple reason that I was taken off dogs. I never refused to work any shift pattern, never.

“I am not worried about working set shifts, the set shifts did not concern me whatsoever, all I want to know is what time I start and what time I finish.”

His statement said he had been shocked to discover there had been a suggestion of poor performance against him from the prison.

Even after his contract was terminated in August 2004, he was awarded an imperial service medal in recognition of the “meritorious service” he gave during his career, the tribunal heard.

He stated: “I had no specific problems with the re-profiling exercise as I felt that we were in negotiation to resolve this.

“It was the fact that I was taken off dogs that caused me to leave. I considered it to be a fundamental breach of my contract of employment and immediately tendered my resignation.

“It was my belief that the dogs were working to an extremely high standard and indeed we received some very positive feedback in the form of letters of approval and at training days.

“In addition, my personal appraisals were always very pleasing in that it was accepted that I worked to a high standard and expected a high standard from my dogs.”

After Mr Broderick resigned, he believed he was entitled to keep the dogs but two days later he received a letter saying Toby and Harley would have to be returned.

Initially Mr Broderick and his wife, Lorna, refused but a civil court then granted the Prison Service an injunction taking ownership of the dogs.

And in October 2004, Judge John Holt ordered Mr Broderick to pay £5,000 in damages and legal costs.

Later that year protestors gathered outside the prison calling for the dogs to be returned and more than 5,000 people put their names to a petition backing Mr Broderick's stance.

The tribunal continues and will hear the case of HM Prison Service later this week.

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