Ex-headteacher loses battle over sacking

Head teacher Kevin Cooney and pupils celebrate the award of teacher training status at Garswood Primary School. Picture Frank Orrell.

Head teacher Kevin Cooney and pupils celebrate the award of teacher training status at Garswood Primary School. Picture Frank Orrell.

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A HEADTEACHER who was sacked as he lay in a hospital bed with a suspected heart attack has lost an appeal against his dismisal.

Kevin Cooney was suspended from his job at Garswood Primary when it was discovered building work at the school was faulty and would cost £20,000 to correct.

An employment tribunal ruled last week St Helens Council and the school’s governing body was entitled to dismiss Mr Cooney.

He collapsed with a suspected heart attack on his way to an internal appeal. However, the hearing went ahead in his absence and he was sacked.

Mr Cooney had claimed his dismal was unfair and ‘an act of disability discrimination’.

Last week’s tribunal, found the governing body took proper note of all the facts available and would have reached the same conclusion had Mr Cooney attended.

The nine-day hearing was the culmination of several years of legal wrangling.

Mr Cooney, who is from Magull, was suspended in 2008 and dismissed in February 2009.

Councillor Sue Murphy, chair of governors at Garswood Primary, said: “We welcome the decision of the employment tribunal.

“It has always been our determination to ensure that governance is of the highest standard at Garswood and we are pleased that the tribunal upheld our decision.”

Alec McFadden, president of the Merseyside TUC, represented Mr Cooney throughout his three-year battle.

He said: “We only received the written judgement on Friday and we are obviously disappointed in the decision. Our legal team is now reviewing whether or not to appeal the decision.”

Mr Cooney was unavailable for comment.