Keystone Law client and ex chief executive of Derby County, Sam Rush was unfairly dismissed by the club an Employment Tribunal Judge has ruled.

Employment Judge Clark concluded after a recent hearing that Derby County’s argument regarding a fair dismissal had “no reasonable prospects of success”. The Judge also found that the club’s reasons for refusing to hold a disciplinary meeting with Mr Rush did not hold up:

“the respondent’s contention as to why it did not follow its own procedure as it had stated it would, does not have credible force.”

Mr Clarke added: “On the undisputed chronology of this case…I have concluded that the contention that the dismissal was procedurally fair has no reasonable prospects of success.

“Consequently, I strike out the respondent’s response insofar as it asserts a liability defence to the claim of unfair dismissal.”

In relation to the procedure adopted when Mr Rush was dismissed the Judge noted that a request that the claimant be legally represented at the disciplinary meeting was refused. Second, that Mr Rush wrote noting the lack of any details of what he was supposed to have done wrong in Mr Rush’s view hindered any sensible preparation amounting to an ambush. Further, that there was no credible explanation for why the club acted in the way they did.

Derby County has issued proceedings against Mr Rush in the High Court but a date remains unset.

Employment lawyer Paul Daniels, representing Mr Rush commented:

“We are very pleased but not at all surprised that Mr Rush has won his claim for unfair dismissal.We have always made clear that Mr Rush did absolutely nothing wrong at the Club, so to be treated in the way he was, was extremely disappointing to say the least. Mr Rush looks forward to telling the whole story of his treatment by the Club and to the High Court ruling on his claims as soon as possible.”

“The counter-allegations against Mr Rush are entirely without foundation. We would note that many of the payments alleged to be somehow unauthorised had been subject to very detailed due diligence by Mr Morris’ Solicitors when he bought the Club as well as professionally audited by independent auditors, with no concerns being raised at any stage.

“Secondly, Mr Rush had no power to sign off any payments at the Club, with all payments being signed and authorised by the Finance Director.

Needless to say, Mr Rush strongly denies any wrongdoing in any shape or form and is very disappointed and saddened that the Club have chosen to pursue these entirely unfounded allegations after he wrote launching his substantial legal claim for damages for breach of contract, unfair dismissal and regarding his 5% shareholding in the Club.

“Finally, we have noted the allegations made in the Accounts just published by the Club and our client categorically confirms that there is no substance whatsoever in those allegations.”

If you require advice on the issues relating to this case, or indeed on any other area of employment law, get in touch with Paul Daniels or your usual Keystone contact.

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