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24Feb94 UK: BUGGED WARD DIRECTOR WINS CLAIM FOR UNFAIR DISMISSAL.

A former director of the failed Ward Group has won a claim for unfair dismissal after an industrial tribunal heard his home telephone was tapped.Tom Paul, 51, was sacked just days after the firm went into receivership amid allegations that he passed confidential information to his twin brother Jim, a director of rival Kingspan Building Products.Mr Paul was played a tape recording of the tapped telephone conversation with his brother at a stormy board meeting where he was dismissed without a chance to explain his actions despite 34 years of service.But the tribunal in Leeds ruled it was 'not satisfied that Mr Paul was guilty of gross misconduct or indeed any misconduct.'He did what he thought best in the interests of the company.'It heard how the drama unfolded during the last days of the Ward Group as the company faced a financial crisis in May 1992.A buyer was being urgently sought and Kingspan expressed an interest in Ward Business Services (WBSL), where Mr Paul was a director. WBSL was eventually acquired by Rugby.The tribunal stated: 'WBSL needed a company or somebody to save the situation and it was clear that the banks were going to foreclose on the following Tuesday and the whole lot would have gone down.'It was to the company's great advantage to have another bidder such as Kingspan in the pipeline.'What Mr Paul did was potentially to the advantage of WBSL and therefore himself. He was in no way in breach of trust or disloyalty towards WBSL.'Police investigated the bugging, but the tappers have never been identified.Directors of Ward denied having anything to do with it and suggested the tape was obtained by an amateur eavesdropper.Mr Paul said: 'This will vindicate my name throughout the industry. The last two years have been a terrible experience and now I'm just looking to rebuild my career.'Another hearing soon will determine compensation for Mr Paul. CONSTRUCTION NEWS