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Private eye loses Morgan Sindall case

A private investigator who brought a claim for breach of verbal contract against Morgan Sindall has had his case dismissed by London’s central employment tribunal.

Andrew Campbell Stewart, who alleged the contractor had reneged on a deal that effectively bought his silence with a promise of work, was told his claim was without foundation as the three-day hearing came to an end last week.

Panel chair Ms Norris said Mr Stewart’s claim was “not well founded”, saying such claims could only be successful where there was a degree of certainty as to the terms of the contract.

Mr Stewart had claimed that he had entered a verbal contract with his long-term friend, Morgan Sindall Fit Out managing director Steve Elliott.

The deal would have seen him paid £8,000 every two months for work in either the health and safety or environmental departments, he claimed.

He said Mr Elliott had also agreed to pay for extensive retraining and a two-year fixed-term contract of work with Overbury, Morgan Sindall’s office, hotel, retail and education fit-out company.

The deal was conditional on Mr Stewart’s silence in a separate criminal trial that related in part to his work as a private investigator for Morgan Sindall.

The company had hired him over a 10-year period, paying him to investigate allegations of corruption among its own staff and to check the immigration status of site labour.

Mr Stewart told the tribunal the first part of his deal with Mr Elliott had been honoured, with invoices confirming the company had made him regular payments in the period up to his trial.

But when the Crown decided not to bring evidence against him, effectively clearing his name, he was not given the two-year paid employment and training he claimed to have been offered.

Morgan Sindall denied any such offer had ever been made, saying all that Mr Elliott had agreed to give Mr Stewart was a small amount of project work up to a maximum value of £40,000.

The company highlighted discrepancies in Mr Stewart’s evidence, which led him to concede the exact sum he expected to be paid had never properly been agreed.

Handing down the tribunal’s judgement, Ms Norris said she was persuaded Morgan Sindall was never in the scope of the Crown’s investigation into Mr Stewart’s work and therefore she found it “implausible” that any deal to buy his silence would have been made.

She said it was even more unlikely the company would enter such a deal given the ability to keep Morgan Sindall out of the case was largely beyond Mr Stewart’s control.

What proved most damaging to Mr Stewart’s case were the inconsistencies in his evidence, with claims made in written submissions to the court proving inconsistent with the version of events he later recounted under cross-examination.

Ms Norris said: “The claimant admits his own version of events have been inconsistent. Most significantly the claimant’s version of what he says were the agreed contractual terms have changed substantially. We find the claimant’s case to be wholly lacking in credibility.”

Both parties declined to comment.

 

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