Police worker withheld information on sex offender brother

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By Kevin Duguid

EMPLOYMENT tribunal judges were

“blinkered’ to let a police worker keep his job after he withheld information over the disappearance of his sex offender brother, a judge has ruled.

Andrew Cusick successfully sued Strathclyde Joint Police Board last year after they claimed he was guilty of gross misconduct for failing to inform detectives he was in contact with his fugitive twin.

But an employment tribunal judge deemed his dismissal to be unfair as his

“unblemished’ work record had not been taken into account.

The board, which acts as a regulator of Strathclyde Police, was controversially ordered to reinstate Cusick and pay him 25,000 compensation, despite claiming a breach of trust.

However, Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judges have now overturned the decision and said the board were right to sack Mr Cusick because he held information which could have led to the earlier capture of his sex offender brother.

And Strathclyde Police were

“entitled’ to expect Cusick to inform on his criminal twin, they said.

Commentators have welcomed the appeal victory, but have said the decision to sack Cusick should have been upheld in the first place.

Mr Cusick’s brother Martin fled Scotland for a new life in Canada without telling the police.

An investigation was launched in 2005 to find out the whereabouts of Martin Cusick, who was jailed for five years in 1996 for sexually abusing three children aged between six and 12.

In 2005 Martin, also a former police officer, left his home in Clarkston, Glasgow, and disappeared despite being required to tell officers of his movements.

The father-of-two was eventually caught in Ontario , Canada , in April 2008 and deported a month later.

A tribunal in Glasgow last year heard how Andrew Cusick was questioned several times about his brother between October 2006 and March 2008 when he said he had

“no direct or indirect contact with him.”

It emerged at the tribunal that between December 2007 and February 2008 Mr Cusick had contact with his brother via email and had his home phone number.

The 55-year-old claimed he had not provided an email address and home number for his brother sooner as he considered it to be a family matter.

He said he had loyalty to his brother and also the police service.

Mr Cusick worked as a civilian training officer for the board, now known as Strathclyde Police Authority (SPA), after retiring from the force after 30 years service.

But the employment tribunal decision was blasted by Conservative justice spokesman and MSP John Lamont, who described it as

“shocking.”

He welcomed the appeal judge’s decision to overturn the tribunal’s ruling. He said:

“I was critical when the original appeal was granted. Most people will view this latest development as an outbreak of common sense. Family ties are one thing, but the safety and security of the public has to be more important. “

Emma Boon, who is the campaign director for the Taxpayers Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers will be shocked that someone working in a position of trust on the police board was acting within the law when he failed to tell officers where an escaped prisoner was.

“Not only has he abused the public trust with this behaviour, but he’s undoubtedly cost taxpayers thousands of pounds. You can’t choose your family, but he should have been honest if he knew the whereabouts of his brother and he certainly shouldn’t have dragged out proceedings over his dismissal and cost taxpayers even more money. “

EAT judge, Lady Smith, said the tribunal’s finding that Cusick had no obligations to Strathclyde Police under employment law was

“erroneous.”

She said:

“The tribunal’s approach was blinkered.It was ill founded.They based their conclusions on the fact that Mr Cusick’s employer was not the police force which had responsibility for locating and securing the arrest of his brother.

She added:

“In this case, for a significant period, the claimant withheld information from the police service which he was employed to assist.

“That information could have led to the earlier apprehension of a sex offender who had absconded. The claimant knew that that offender, his brother, had absconded and he knew that the police were looking for him. It was a serious matter. “

Mr Cusick has never been reinstated since he was sacked and was never paid a penny in compensation.

However, the possibility of taking his case to the Court of Session in Edinburgh is still open to him.

A spokesman for the Employment Tribunals Service said the body did not comment on individual cases.

Mr Cusick was unavailable for comment.

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