PR guru claims VisitScotland are “hiding” documents from employment tribunal


Richard Saville-Smith

By Cara Sulieman

A HIGH-FLYING PR guru who is suing VisitScotland for unfair dismissal has filed a complaint with police alleging that the tourism body failed to produce “key documents” under court order.

Richard Saville-Smith claims management at VisitScotland – the public body in charge of the year-long Homecoming celebrations – “doctored” evidence of his workload.

And he has reported them to Lothian and Borders Police for attempting to pervert the course of justice and interfering with evidence.

Mr Saville-Smith’s case was partially heard for four days in September and starts again tomorrow (Weds).

“Very helpful”

During the last sitting, he made claims that bosses at Homecoming Scotland altered minutes of important meetings and destroyed an email account in a bid to discredit him.

But lawyers for the public body said that they automatically deleted the email account of employees who had left.

Mr Saville-Smith said that the documents show the amount of work he undertook for the company as he argues that the workload was too much for one person.

Speaking after filing the complaint today (Tues), Mr Saville-Smith said: “The police were very helpful. They said they are taking it seriously and are looking at the best way to proceed.

“The court orders for the documents were issued in September and the documents were simply not provided.”

But he said that he is willing to continue with the tribunal without the documents if that is what is decided.

“I don’t believe it is an accident”

He said: “I’m fairly relaxed either way. The judge from the tribunal will be making his decision and I will comply with whatever it is. But every time they refer to the documents in their argument I will point out that we haven’t seen them.”

And the PR expert thinks that VisitScotland had the documents but deliberately hid them to discredit him.

Mr Saville-Smith added: “I believe that they have decided that depriving me of the evidence that I sought will advantage them in this case.

“I don’t believe it is an accident – I don’t believe that it’s anything other than an attempt to give themselves an advantage.

“It’s astonishing.”

The PR expert said that there are court orders for the production of his electronic diary, computer documents, and his personnel file, but VisitScotland have failed to provide them.

Unfair dismissal

The 48-year-old was employed to mastermind the Homecoming campaign in June 2008, but was sacked from the £40,000 position for what they said was incompetence just seven weeks later.

He is claiming an increased workload and a lack of management support led him to suffer an episode of manic depression, in which he spent four weeks in a secure unit.

When he finished his treatment he was told not to return before finally receiving his P45 on Christmas Eve 2008.

VisitScotland said that Mr Saville-Smith’s dismissal had nothing to do with his mental illness, but because he was incompetent.

Mr Saville-Smith is claiming unfair dismissal from his position as PR manager of Year of Homecoming on the grounds of disability legislation and is claiming around £50,000 in unpaid wages and damages.

A VisitScotland spokesperson said last night: “This is a pretty cynical attempt to get publicity for Mr Saville-Smith’s case.

“We are confident that there is no criminal case to answer here and have so far had no contact from the police.

“We can’t comment in detail on the case except to say that the full story will come out in the tribunal and we are confident we will be vindicated.

See more of our videos at our dedicated channel,  Deadline TV.