Does the rule of attribution in Royal Mail Group v Jhuti apply only to the reason for dismissal, or does it also apply to whether a dismissal is fair?
Both, held the EAT in Uddin v London Borough Of Ealing.
Mr Uddin failed (by a majority) in a claim for unfair dismissal. He had been accused of inappropriate sexual behaviour towards a colleague who had reported him to the police. The investigating officer became aware that the complainant had withdrawn her allegation to the police but did not tell the dismissing officer. The dismissing officer relied on that complaint to justify finding that Mr Uddin had behaved in the manner of which he was accused.
Mr Uddin's appeal was allowed on a few bases, but of particular importance, HHJ Auerbach said:
"The present case is not one in which the reason for dismissal was found to have been invented, or in which [the investigating officer] had a different true reason from the reason why [the dismissing officer] in fact dismissed, or the basis on which the appeal panel upheld the dismissal...[but] I conclude that Lord Wilson [in Jhuti was] of the view...that the question of whether the knowledge...of a person other than the person who actually decided to dismiss, could be relevant to the fairness of a dismissal, could arise, both in relation to the Tribunal's consideration of the reason for dismissal under section 98(1) and/or its consideration of the section 98(4) question...[In] a case where someone responsible for the conduct of a pre-investigation did not share a material fact with the decision-maker, that could be regarded as relevant to the Tribunal's adjudication of the section 98(4) question."
Thanks to Matthew Jackson of 10 KBW for preparing this case summary.