National Gallery attendant helped colleague with ‘atrocious’ submission


A senior attendant with the National Gallery told the Employment Appeals Tribunal he helped a former colleague with a submission to a rights commissioner after reading his first draft which was “atrocious” due to his poor written English.

David Fox, who is taking an unfair dismissal case against the gallery, told the tribunal an employee of an outside security contractor, who had poor written English, asked him to help clean up his submission.

The individual had been dismissed following an incident involving a fire in a lane next to the gallery. Around a year afterwards he contacted Mr Fox and produced a handwritten submission he had prepared for the rights commissioner, the tribunal heard.

On reading the document Mr Fox told him he “ ‘should have written it in English’; it was atrocious”.

He said the individual had asked for his help as he was aware Mr Fox was an active trade unionist.

He said he had typed it up, corrected the grammar and added or deleted pieces of text as instructed by the individual but said it “wasn’t my composition”.

Mr Fox said he would never do anything to put the national collection at risk, adding he had never been involved in “any default of duty” in over 20 years of employment at the gallery.

He said he did not accept the emails contained “security sensitive information”. However, Tom Mallon SC, representing the gallery, said this put him “at odds” with the previous evidence of a former director of the gallery, a former operations manager, its current head of security, and a former detective superintendent.

Proper procedures
Mr Fox said proper procedures were not followed as regards his dismissal. He said he felt “no trust has actually been broken” and wished to be reinstated.

However, in his closing statements Mr Mallon said there had been “no procedural defect” in the gallery’s handling of the case.

He put it to the tribunal Mr Fox had “significant role” in drafting the document and owed a duty to his employers to put their interests first and had not been entitled to help the individual “in a manner that puts the gallery at risk” and “not in a manner that breaches his . . . undoubted obligations not to discuss security issues”.

Chair of the tribunal Peter O’Leary reserved judgment in the case.