Page last updated at 11:29 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 12:29 UK

PR boss to appeal disability tribunal ruling

Richard Saville-Smith was appointed PR manager of Homecoming Scotland
Mr Saville-Smith lost his job just three months after starting

A PR manager with bipolar disorder who was sacked by VisitScotland has vowed to appeal after losing his disability discrimination case.

Richard Saville-Smith took the tourism body to an employment tribunal after losing his job in 2008.

VisitScotland insisted he was fired because of the quality of his work, rather than because he was bipolar.

The tribunal dismissed Mr Saville-Smith's complaint but made several criticisms of VisitScotland in its judgement.

Mr Saville-Smith, from Edinburgh, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1992, and was prescribed medicine three years later, which kept the condition under control.

'Unfair dismissal'

But just seven weeks after being appointed as public relations manager for the Homecoming Scotland event in August 2008, he suffered a bipolar episode which resulted in him needing psychiatric care.

When he attempted to return to work, VisistScotland prevented Mr Saville-Smith, 48, from doing so, and he was sacked in November 2008 for what the agency said was his inability to do his job.

VisitScotland's position throughout the resulting employment tribunal was that Mr Saville-Smith's colleagues had raised serious concerns about his ability to do his job, and in particular his ability to work with other members of the Homecoming Scotland team, before he became ill.

We have always known that Mr Saville-Smith did not have his employment terminated for any reason related to his disability
VisitScotland spokesman

In its written judgement which was published this week, the tribunal found VisitScotland had not breached disability discrimination laws - although one member of the panel said he believed it was a "clear case" of discrimination.

However, the tribunal said Mr Saville-Smith would have had a case for unfair dismissal if he had been employed by VisitScotland for at least a year.

It also criticised parts of the evidence given to it by some senior members of VisitScotland staff, and said Mr Saville-Smith had been badly treated during his brief time working for the agency.

The judgement stated: "The fact that the majority of the tribunal consider that the respondents [VisitScotland] have not breached the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act does not mean that the majority believed that the respondents acted properly and in accordance with good human resources processes."

'Vindicated'

Mr Saville-Smith told BBC Scotland he was "definitely" going to appeal the ruling.

He said: "The judgement is bizarre - it basically means that if three or four seniors managers say 'we were going to sack him before he got ill' then it is OK.

"Only 20% of people with serious mental illness have jobs but 80% say they want to work. Employers need to get over it."

A spokesman for VisitScotland said: "As we anticipated all along, VisitScotland has been vindicated by the employment tribunal's decision and we have been found not to have discriminated against Mr Saville-Smith.

"We are pleased that the employment tribunal has found in our favour as we have always known that Mr Saville-Smith did not have his employment terminated for any reason related to his disability."



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SEE ALSO
PR man challenged over job bids
16 Sep 09 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
VisitScotland taken to tribunal
14 Sep 09 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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