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National park officer sacked over emails loses unfair dismissal fight

July 21 2014

A former employee of a national park authority has lost her case for unfair dismissal after being sacked for sending emails containing “sensitive” information to her husband.

Iona Hyde, a former trees and woodland officer with Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority, sent her partner Mike Hyde confidential data about a planning application.

Mr Hyde is a private planning consultant and Mrs Hyde sent him a copy of recommendations she had made in an application involving one of his clients who was objecting to it.

A report by Herald Scotland revealed that the authority found she had acted inappropriately, creating a conflict of interest, and sacked her for gross misconduct.

Mrs Hyde claimed she was unaware she should not have sent the emails, but employment judge Rosemary Sorrell said this defence was “implausible”.

In a written judgment in the case, the judge added: “In respect of [Mrs Hyde], the tribunal found that, whilst she gave her evidence in a clear and straightforward manner, we did not find her to be a particularly honest or credible witness.”

The tribunal was told that Mrs Hyde had worked with the authority for ten years and was the only expert of her kind employed at the national park.

She said she had not been trained on what she was allowed to share with interested parties.

The park authority argued she was an experienced member of staff who would have been well aware of procedures.

Judge Sorrell agreed and said that by sending the information to her husband she had given him a competitive advantage.

She added that Fiona Logan, the park’s chief executive, “gave credible evidence that there were a number of emails the claimant shared with Mr Hyde in his role as agent between 2011 and 2013 without authority, out with her remit and in breach of confidentiality”.