Council abandons appeal over sacked primary school deputy

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A DEPUTY head who was sacked over false claims she ran a website selling sexy schoolgirl uniforms has won an 11thhour victory against a Scottish council.

Linda Ross, 59, won her claim for unfair dismissal against Dundee City Council in July 2011 after she was sacked for gross misconduct .

Dundee Council has run up a big legal bill fighting the decision but it emerged yesterday (Wed) it had withdrawn its appeal, meaning taxpayers will now have to pick up the legal bills.

Both sides are subject to a strict gagging order but it is understood the council had already spent upwards of £25,000 on the appeal hearing, including around £15,000 to cover the fee of Brian Napier QC.

Politicians and tax campaigners last night blasted the council for its “unacceptable” decision to splash thousands of pounds of public cash on an appeal hearing – only to pull its case at the 11th hour.

Linda Ross’s solicitor John Muir said Mrs Ross, who was deputy at Longhaugh Primary, and her husband Vic were “delighted” that the matter was concluded on the eve of the three-day appeal hearing in Edinburgh.

The former teacher made national headlines two years ago when it was alleged by council chiefs she was involved in selling inappropriate adult clothing on a website that had a direct link to pornographic material.

The site showed a model wearing a see-through crop-top and a plaid miniskirt with a matching tie and gloves. Other items for sale included a kinky policewoman’s outfit.

But an employment tribunal found the allegations were unfounded.

Abandoned

Robert Oxley of TaxpayerScotland criticised the council for its spending on the abandoned case.

He said: “It’s unacceptable that the council increased the bill to taxpayers by dragging out this case only to drop it at the 11th hour.

“They need to stop thinking about saving face and start thinking about saving taxpayers money.”

Independent councillor Ian Borthwick said: “I have made my position absolutely clear from the outset that it would have been prudent for the city council to have accepted the findings of the tribunal.

“This sorry saga has dragged on for many months and has not only cost thousands of pounds to the taxpayer of Dundee but has also caused a great deal of anxiety to a number of people involved.

“The justification for this appeal appeared to be the council wanting to defend the reputations for their officials. Where is the defence of these people now?

“I’m not personally criticising anyone official but these facts should be presented to elected members.”

Labour group leader Councillor Kevin Keenan added: “I don’t think the tribunal judgement in any way looked favourably on the council and I think there are clear lessons to be learned from this sorry episode, so that policies and procedures are adhered to within the council.

“The withdrawal of the appeal obviously means there is some kind of acceptance of the judgement which wasn’t there before.”

Allegations

Mrs Ross was suspended from her post as deputy head of Sidlaw Primary in Dundee in 2007 after her husband made allegations in the media of regular attacks by pupils on teachers and of violent parents wandering the corridors of the school.

Mr Ross claimed staff had been verbally and physically attacked almost daily, and that some had been bitten, struck on the head, kicked, spat on and “threatened with sharp objects”.

During two disciplinary hearings, Mrs Ross was accused of breaking council rules by being the source of the allegations and distributing unauthorised material to staff.

She was suspended for five months before being told by senior education officials that she would keep her post as a deputy head under condition that she transferred to Longhaugh Primary.

Mrs Ross was transferred to the school as depute head but she was suspended again in June 2008 and then dismissed for gross misconduct four months later.

It later emerged that she had been sacked over her alleged links to a website, set up by her husband, with adverts selling sexy schoolgirl uniforms for adults.

The site showed a model wearing a see-through crop-top and a plaid miniskirt with a matching tie and gloves. Other items for sale included a kinky policewoman’s outfit.

An employment tribunal found these claims to be unfounded and roundly criticised then education director Anne Wilson, the council’s HR manager and even Lord Provost John Letford for his part in a disciplinary investigation.

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