Whistleblower wins damages.

An accountant who was unfairly dismissed by his employer has been awarded #293,441 compensation in the first victory under the UK’s whistleblower rules. Telecoms business Netcom Consultants UK sacked Antonio Fernandes in December 1999 following an internal disciplinary hearing. A month previously, Fernandes sent a fax alerting the company’s US parent XSource Corporation to cashflow difficulties at the UK arm. The majority of the allegations made in the fax related to former UK managing director Stephen Woodhouse. Fernandes alleged that Woodhouse made claims of #316,000 in expenses and cash advances on his bonus that were never reconciled. But under the Public Interest Disclosure provisions, a tribunal in May concluded that Fernandes had been intimidated and pressurised to resign by Netcom’s management so that the firm’s financial affairs could be covered up. Laurence Anstis of solicitor’s Boyes Turner & Burrows, told Accountancy Age that since his dismissal Fernandes – who does not hold a recognised accountancy qualification – has been unable to find work. Speaking of Fernandes’ fight, he said: ‘It has taken a lot of courage for him to make the disclosure, but I believe his actions have been vindicated.’ In the light of the company’s decision to appeal against the ruling, a spokesperson for Netcom Consultants declined to comment. More on this story

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