National Gallery guard challenges dismissal for breach of security

Gallery claims emails were ‘security sensitive’

Tom Mallon, for the gallery, told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that the institution housed the “invaluable” national art collection, meaning security was paramount and “something which the gallery spends a lot of time, effort and indeed money on”.

Tom Mallon, for the gallery, told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that the institution housed the “invaluable” national art collection, meaning security was paramount and “something which the gallery spends a lot of time, effort and indeed money on”.

Fri, Oct 4, 2013, 01:00



A senior security attendant who was dismissed from the National Gallery of Ireland for an alleged breach of security has brought an unfair dismissal case against the institution.

The case is being taken by a senior attendant, David Fox.

Tom Mallon, for the gallery, told the Employment Appeals Tribunal that the institution housed the “invaluable” national art collection, meaning security was paramount and “something which the gallery spends a lot of time, effort and indeed money on”.

Mr Mallon told the tribunal that as well as its own security staff, it also used security contractors. Explaining the background to the case, he said that following a fire in a lane adjacent to the gallery, an employee of one such security contractor was dismissed.


Rights commissioner
That individual subsequently brought a claim to a rights commissioner relating to his dismissal for which he prepared a written submission.

“That submission contains a very serious amount of security-sensitive information,” Mr Mallon told the tribunal yesterday.

Mr Mallon said the gallery’s email monitoring system had automatically flagged a number of emails from Mr Fox to the former employee, a number of which included attachments containing drafts of the submission.

The gallery contended that the “reasonable inference from some of the material . . . is that Mr Fox inserted at least some of the objectionable material into the submission”.

Grammar
Mr Fox says he only assisted the employee with grammar in the document as English was not his first language.

However, Mr Mallon said that “as a person who is involved critically in security matters, that it was a breach of his [Mr Fox’s] obligations to have any hand, act or part in that submission and that he should have . . . when he first saw this brought it to the attention of his superiors and said, ‘this man is going to publish . . . material which is security sensitive’.”

He said that while “in isolation some of the information may seem innocuous”, to a “bad person outside the gallery with other motives” that material might prove extremely important.

After the case was outlined, and following discussions, the decision was taken not to proceed with an application by the gallery representatives for an in camera hearing.

The tribunal, which had set aside half a day for the case yesterday, ran out of time to hear from witnesses and the case will now be heard over two days next April.