Firm failed to probe drug-tak­ing claims

Court: Project man­ager says whistle­blower was in­com­pe­tent

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY STEPHEN WALSH

A north-east en­ergy firm failed to prop­erly in­ves­ti­gate a whistle­blower’s claims that staff were on drugs, a tri­bunal has heard.

Roger Ham­mond al­leges Vat­ten­fall sacked him for alert­ing se­nior man­age­ment to a prob­lem with il­le­gal sub­stances at the Aberdeen Off­shore Wind­farm sub­sta­tion at Black­dog.

Mr Ham­mond, who was site man­ager, also claims the com­pany got rid of him af­ter he re­ported an 11-yearold girl had been al­lowed to drive a dig­ger.

How­ever, the com­pany has ar­gued that he was sacked from his role as site man­ager be­cause of his frac­tured re­la­tion­ship with his col­leagues, one of whom ac­cused him of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

The firm now faces al­le­ga­tions that it wrong­fully dis­missed Mr Ham­mond, from War­ring­ton, in Fe­bru­ary of this year.

Yes­ter­day the wind­farm’s project man­ager Adam Ez­za­mel gave ev­i­dence at the hear­ing in Aberdeen.

Mr Ham­mond’s bar­ris­ter Nigel Grundy asked him if any in­ves­ti­ga­tion was car­ried out by the firm af­ter Mr Ham­mond told them videos were cir­cu­lat­ing of site work­ers tak­ing co­caine on a night out.

He said that no in­quiries were car­ried out and no drug tests were car­ried out ei­ther though there po­ten­tially would have been ran­dom ones in ac­cor­dance with com­pany pol­icy.

Mr Ez­za­mel also de­nied that he had ever been made aware that a se­nior man­ager had taken co­caine in front of Mr Ham­mond off-site.

He said that se­nior man­age­ment were aware of the dig­ger in­ci­dent, where a health and safety of­fi­cer at the de­vel­op­ment al­lowed her daugh­ter to drive an ex­ca­va­tor while con­trac­tor JM Mur­phy’s re­gional man­ager held onto the side of the ve­hi­cle – but they did not ini­tially know the ve­hi­cle had been mo­bile.

Mr Ez­za­mel said that Mr Ham­mond had ex­hib­ited a “pat­tern of be­hav­iour” in his time at the com­pany, where there had been fre­quent “per­son­al­ity clashes” with co-work­ers.

He also re­counted a team night out where, he claimed, Mr Ham­mond was drunk and be­came ag­gres­sive af­ter “ban­ter” with a col­league turned sour.

He said that there had been dis­cus­sions weeks be­fore Mr Ham­mond was sacked where they had de­cided to find a re­place­ment be­cause he was in­com­pe­tent, but he claimed this process was ac­cel­er­ated when a col­league ac­cused him of sex­ual ha­rass­ment.

When pressed by Mr Grundy, he could not ac­count why this was not in Vat­ten­fall’s of­fi­cial re­sponse to the tri­bunal.

Mr Grundy put it to the wit­ness that he had “overblown” Mr Ham­mond’s problems.

Mr Ez­za­mel de­nied this. San­dra Hayes, elec­tri­cal pack­ag­ing man­ager for the firm, said that she did not think Mr Ham­mond’s al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing drugs were made in good faith which is why no in­ves­ti­ga­tion took place.

The tri­bunal con­tin­ues.

TRI­BUNAL: The in­ci­dent where a health and safety of­fi­cer al­lowed her daugh­ter (pix­e­lated) to drive a dig­ger on the site at Black­dog

Roger Ham­mond

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