Dad to sue leisure bosses after son’s job fight

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An angry dad is suing North Lanarkshire Leisure for allegedly blackening his name during a dispute over his son’s job at a sports centre.

The man claims bosses at Ravenscraig Regional Sports Facility concocted a criminal charge against him in order to stop him investigating a culture of bullying and favouritism.

He also accused the organisation of blowing public money by giving his son £4,000 to drop his case at an industrial tribunal - after earlier telling him he had no chance of winning.

The claims have been dismissed by Councillor Jim Logue, NLL chairman, who, in turn, accused the man of having his own agenda to discredit the organisation.

The man, who asked not to be named, came forward after a report in the Times & Speaker last month about a letter purporting to be from NLL staff to North Lanarkshire Council chief executive Gavin Whitefield which contained claims of misconduct within NLL.

The leisure body was created to run services for the council, but while subject to council scrutiny it operates separately, headed by its own chief executive, former Scottish tennis internationalist Blane Dodds.

The leisure attendant’s dad gave us a lengthy dossier of documents related to his son’s case. In a report that was due to go before an industrial tribunal the attendant accused his employers of ‘a systematic campaign to discredit me because I have questioned the dubious practices within North Lanarkshire Leisure’.

The worker, now aged 20, resigned in 2012 after a lengthy grievance procedure. He claimed he suffered harassment and was ostracised after complaining that, unlike some colleagues, he was unable to get extra shifts at Ravenscraig.

He rejected his bosses’ claims that his work simply wasn’t good enough. He quit because the atmosphere had become ‘unbearable and began to seriously affect my health’.

NLL said the employee’s claim of constructive dismissal was ‘completely unfounded after a lengthy and thorough detailed grievance procedure’.

In the run-up to the tribunal hearing solicitor Ingrid McGhee, acting for NLL, wrote in a letter to the worker’s lawyer that he had ‘no reasonable prospect’ of winning his case. The dad was simply trying to ‘attack and discredit’ NLL rather than ‘rectify some perceived injustice’.

The man said he was banned from sports complexes and the police were called in to deal with what he claims was a fabricated allegation of abusive behaviour by him at Ravenscraig.

He said he has taken the matter to a lawyer and plans to sue NLL for defamation.

Meanwhile, council procedures have been called into question after two former professional footballers coaching youngsters were overpaid by £18,000.

Former Airdrie and Dunfermline striker Andy Smith and ex-Kilmarnock star Steven Hamilton were disciplined and ordered to pay back the cash.

Their boss had suggested they work extra hours for nothing to balance the books, clashing with a personnel officer who said that was ‘not acceptable’.

This week a North Lanarkshire Council insider queried the length of time it had taken to get a repayment plan put in place and said there was ‘disbelief’ in some quarters that Mr Smith and Mr Hamilton had managed to hold on to their jobs. They were given written warnings in June last year.

More on these stories in this week’s Times & Speaker, out now.