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Former brewery chief was wrongly sacked

PUBLISHED: 05:14 13 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:17 24 February 2010

The former managing director of an independent brewery was yesterday awarded a substantial cash sum after a tribunal ruled he had been wrongly sacked and suffered a "character assassination" at the hands of his ex-boss.

The former managing director of an independent brewery was yesterday awarded a substantial cash sum after a tribunal ruled he had been wrongly sacked and suffered a "character assassination" at the hands of his ex-boss.

George Wortley was dismissed from his £61,000-a-year job at St Peter's Brewery, South Elmham, near Bungay, in July, on the grounds he could not do his job properly, he was having affairs at the company's expense and was dishonest when claiming money back from the business.

But last night he was jubilant after an employment tribunal in Norwich upheld his claim that he had been unfairly dismissed.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Wortley, 51, of Syleham, near Eye, said he was delighted that his seven-month nightmare was now over, as it had a real ordeal for him and his family.

"I am delighted that I have been exonerated but I also feel ambivalent. I am pleased to have won but I am rather sad it has come to this. All the ghastly things that have been implied have shown to be the complete rubbish I always knew they were," he said.

The two-day hearing heard from St Peter's Brewery's owner and chairman, John Murphy, that Mr Wortley had failed to inform him that the business had cash-flow problems.

It was further alleged that Mr Wortley received and forwarded e-mails containing pornographic material and that he was suffering a mid-life crisis.

But Mr Wortley, the president of Diss Rugby Club, had always denied allegations of gross misconduct and claimed that he was unfairly dismissed, having been sacked by the brewery to save it money.

He told the tribunal he had received neither verbal nor written warnings that he might be sacked, and that the only crisis he had suffered was a result of losing his job.

But although he admitted having one affair, and that on occasions his mistress accompanied him abroad, he maintained that at no time did the company suffer financially as result.

Giving the tribunal panel's verdict yesterday, its chairman Christopher Ash said he found that Mr Wortley, 51, had been unfairly and wrongfully dismissed and launched a scathing attack on Mr Murphy.

"The respondents have done everything in their power to undermine the applicant and present a case that amounts to character assassination by accusing him of affairs, incapability and dishonesty," he said.

"Much time has been spent accusing him in the most overt terms of being a pornographer and of being dishonest. The dismissal was manifestly and blatantly unfair. No warnings were given, no reasons were given, there was no investigation, no opportunity for him to state his case and no appeal."

Mr Ash said much of brewery's case had focused on undermining Mr Wortley's character, and failed to argue why his dismissal was fair.

The sum of money Mr Wortley received was not disclosed.

Mr Murphy, 58, said he was "absolutely stunned" by the verdict but declined to comment further.


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