£300k for of­fi­cial driven out of job with Baroness Shame­less

Daily Mail - - PETER OBORNE - By Steve Doughty So­cial Af­fairs Cor­re­spon­dent

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.’

‘Dam­aged rep­u­ta­tion’

Ac­cu­sa­tions: Labour peer Baroness Scot­land

Pay­out: Ram Venuprasad

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