£300k for official driven out of job with Baroness Shameless
A SENIOR civil servant hounded out of his Commonwealth job while working under Baroness Scotland has won nearly £300,000 compensation.
It amounts to almost three years’ salary for Ram Venuprasad who was pushed out of his post at the Commonwealth Secretariat after he was wrongly blamed for leaking documents to the Daily Mail.
He was Commonwealth secretary general Lady Scotland’s former head office deputy when a disciplinary board ruled against him while he was on sick leave.
The final bill may end up close to the £1million mark after legal costs of the two-and-a-half-year dispute are paid.
The tribunal ruling made public yesterday said the process by which Mr Venuprasad was removed from his job ran against both secretariat rules and natural justice. It added: ‘We also trust that this judgment will encourage the secretariat to reflect on the uncom- promising and aggressive manner in which the disciplinary process and this litigation were conducted, despite the illness and vulnerability of the employee concerned.
‘A more sensitive and humane approach would have gone a long way to avoiding the breaches that occurred, the harms that were caused ... and the cost to the secretariat of compensating Mr Venuprasad for those harms.’
The findings are the latest embarrassment for Lady Scotland, 63, who has been labelled ‘Baroness Shameless’ over her behaviour in the job. The Labour peer has been accused of demanding high spending on her grace-and-favour Mayfair mansion, of awarding contracts to friends without following procedure, and of proposing to pay out £50,000 for a garden party during Ramadan.
The secretariat has complained of inadequate finances and said it could not afford high compensation.
But the tribunal, led by David Goddard QC, said: ‘It would be wrong to leave Mr Venuprasad, an individual employee, without adequate compensation for the secretariat’s serious breaches of its obligations to him.’
The compensation decision followed a tribunal finding against the secretariat in April. Mr Venuprasad worked for the secretariat from 2001 to the end of 2016, rising to deputy head of the secretary general’s office.
Under Baroness Scotland’s predecessor he was given an outstanding rating but after she took up the position in May 2016 tensions began to arise, the tribunal found.
When Commonwealth documents were leaked to the Daily Mail weeks after she officially started work, Mr Venuprasad was blamed and suspended by late June. A disciplinary board met in his absence while he was on sick leave in his native India. He was issued with a final written warning for gross misconduct and his contract was not renewed.
The tribunal found his suspension, the final warning and criticism of him spread by the secretariat press office were ‘likely to have damaged Mr Venuprasad’s reputation and prejudiced his search for new employment’.
The three-man panel rejected his initial claim for compensation of more than £662,000, awarding £292,700. A spokesman for the organisation said: ‘We are considering the judgment.’
Accusations: Labour peer Baroness Scotland
Payout: Ram Venuprasad