Kent Messenger Maidstone
Chaplain’s £23,000 bill to clear name
When you add it all up, I’m £50,000 poorer says minister
A HOSPITAL chaplain who cleared his name when an employment tribunal found he had been unfairly dismissed now faces a £23,000 legal bill.
The Rev Stuart Piper was lead chaplain overseeing hospitals run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust when he was sacked in April 2011.
The 58-year-old had already undergone several hearings at the NHS trust before launching tribunal action.
An initial case was thrown out on a technicality in February 2012, leaving Mr Piper roughly £10,000 out of pocket.
Unable to get any position in a ministry, Mr Piper fought on, and a second hearing went ahead concluding in his favour earlier this month – but it left him £23,000 poorer.
Mr Piper does not yet know how much money the tribunal will award. He predicts it won’t cover his expenses and it is an accepted principle that tribunals will not pay legal fees.
He said: “When you add up the fees, and how much I have lost in salary and pension over the two years, I am more than £50,000 short.
“It has been a struggle. I had a Harley Davidson and a very nice car which I’ve had to sell, and I’ve had to put a bit extra on the mortgage.”
Father-of-three Mr Piper said he loved his job, which involved managing the chaplaincy.
The allegation against him was that he had become involved in an argument with two people. He said his only role was to try to resolve the conflict.
After winning an internal appeal the trust offered to reemploy him in a more junior role on £10,000 a year less. He declined.
After the latest hearing, the trust said in a statement it accepted its action amounted to unfair dismissal.
Mr Piper, who lives in Ramsgate with his wife Lynda, said: “If I had done something wrong I would have put my hand up and said ‘guilty your honour’.
“I am very saddened by it all.”