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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
'Whistle blower' makes legal history
Laurie Holden
Laurie Holden now works at a riding school
A former train driver who won his case for unfair dismissal after speaking out about breaches of safety at the rail operator Connex has made legal history.

Laurie Holden has been awarded a total of 55,000, including 18,000 in aggravated damages and injury to his feelings.

It is the first time such an award has been made by a British employment tribunal.

Laurie Holden from Tonbridge in Kent resigned from the rail firm three years ago suffering from stress.

'Safety problems'

The 49-year-old complained of being victimised for warning the company about safety issues.

He says he complained to managers about safety probems, including claims that drivers worked too many hours.

He also warned about signals being passed at danger and about a leaking tunnel roof which subsequently collapsed damaging a train.

There were a series of disciplinary hearings eventually leading to his resignation.

Laurie Holden
Laurie Holden was a train driver for 25 years

The tribunal described a 12-month campaign to force him out as "wholly unacceptable".

It noted that the company had never apologised.

Mr Holden's solicitor, Paul Maynard, said legal history had been made as it was the first time an award had been made for aggravated damages and injury to feelings in an unfair dismissal case.

Mr Holden said he was pleased with the outcome but said it was never about money.

"I brought the case to raise the issues, so anything else was a bonus."

Connex, which runs services through south-east London, Kent, Sussex and parts of Surrey, said it wants to draw a line under the affair.

"We are sorry things had to get this far before being resolved.

"We are satisfied we have had an opportunity to state our case at the tribunal."

Click here to go to Kent

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See also:

26 Aug 01 | UK
Connex loses rail franchise
24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex travellers' woes
24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex loses rail franchise
24 Oct 00 | UK
Connex's colourful years
13 Jul 00 | UK
More trains running late
24 Aug 00 | Business
Battle for train operator escalates
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