Firefighter gets his job back

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A SACKED Whiston firefighter is set to be reinstated after an employment tribunal ruled in his favour.

Kevin Hughes, a senior Merseyside Fire Brigade Union (FBU) official, was dismissed in the summer of 2009 following an allegation that he punched 19-year-old James Tasker, the son of a station manager, in The Victoria pub in Rainhill.

Mr Hughes always denied the assault and, following a police investigation, no formal charges were ever brought.

However, when the case was later heard before Fire Authority chiefs - in July 2009 - Mr Hughes was found guilty of gross misconduct and dismissed from his post.

An ensuing industrial dispute subsequently brought the local fire service to the brink of strike action after the FBU claimed the dismissal process used against the Rainhill father-of-two was flawed.

Mr Hughes, an experienced firefighter who has worked at Whiston Fire Station for the last 15 years, was even supported in his cause by the one of the country’s top union bosses.

TUC boss Brendan Barber last year branded the evidence against Mr Hughes as “flimsy”.

He said: “The FBU are clear that there is little evidence to support the allegations made against Kevin Hughes. I’m hoping that after a fair, open hearing Kevin’s case will be positively resolved.”

Strike action was only averted when an agreement was reached that the Fire Service would “respect the decision” of the employment tribunal - regardless of whether it ordered for Mr Hughes’ reinstatement or not.

Following an employment tribunal hearing last week, employment judge Keith Robinson ruled that Mr Hughes should be reinstated by April 4.

Commenting on the decision of the tribunal, Tony Newman, Chair of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, confirmed that he would now get his job back.

Mr Newman said: “The authority has accepted the decision of the tribunal and Mr Hughes will be returning to duty as soon as is practical.”