'Paul the bin man' must wait to find out result in his case against council

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By Christine Lavelle and Amanda MacMillan

A BINMAN suing council chiefs for unfair dismissal after they sacked him and not his wife must wait to find out whether he has won his case.

Paul French, 50, from Edinburgh, was axed from his job after he was accused of being the author of unflattering blog posts and letters to the media under the alias ‘Paul the bin man’.

City of Edinburgh Council sacked him for alleged gross misconduct claiming he had breached their code of conduct and undermined the organization during a controversial pay dispute.

But during a two day hearing he argued he had never been aware of the code and said he was being sexually discriminated against because his wife – who he says made similar posts – escaped unpunished.

He argued that his wife Janet – who also works for the Council – wrote a letter to a newspaper expressing some of the same views as he did, but did not receive any kind of censorship.

He is claiming sex discrimination and unfair dismissal because he believes he was treated “unfavourably”.

The dad of two said:  “I do not believe my misconduct would fall in the gross misconduct category.

“It should have been dealt with in another way.”

In the closing statements yesterday (wed) council brief Christine Livingstone asked that the council’s decision to sack Mr French be upheld by the tribunal.

She said he had breached the council’s code of conduct by writing statements about the council, council members and council representatives and that the council took the necessary action by dismissing him.

However she argued that if the if monetary compensation was to be granted in Mr French’s favour,  that it be reduced by 25% because of his part in the action taken against him.

She added: “The claimant had put his opinions into the public domain and they can no longer be seen as private. The claimant continues to post complaints about the council.”

In his closing statement Mr French confirmed that the first time he saw the council’s code of conduct was in March at the disciplinary hearing.

But pressed by Employment Judge Joseph d’Inverno on why his case should be regarded as sexual discrimination, he was unable to offer any new evidence other than his wife not being disciplined too.

He said only: “I should not have lost my job.”

A written judgement will be sent to both parties in due course.

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