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Chambers & Partners

Whirlybird Trustees in a Tail Spin


Robin Moira White successfully represented whistleblower Stephen Murdoch in his claim against Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust.  The case was heard in Bodmin in June 2023 but judgment was only handed down on 22nd February 2024 after a further hearing in January. Robin was instructed by David Thomas of Quay Legal.

Stephen Murdoch had been the Chief Operating Officer of the charity providing Cornwall’s Air Ambulance and was acting up as Chief Executive after the resignation of the previous incumbent.  Following an external recruitment exercise an external candidate was appointed as Chief Executive who, by the tribunal’s order, can only be referred to as ‘X’.  Stephen Murdoch losing out to him as one of the final interviewees from the 140 applicants.

Stephen came to know that ‘X’s CV included a number of misrepresentations as to his career and achievements.  He brought that to the attention of the Trustees who refused to change their decision or explain why the ‘improvements’ to ‘X’s CV were ignored.  Stephen felt he could not continue under ‘X’ and the Trustees and resigned.

The judgment (EJ Midgley and lay members) states that:

   “We are satisfied that the claimant’s belief that misrepresentations and inaccuracies in the CV were negligent or deliberate was objectively reasonable – as were his concerns that they called into question whether ‘X’ was a fit and proper person to be appointed CEO.’

Since then, a number of the Trustees have resigned, including the Chairman of Trustees, Mark Carne, the retired Chief Executive of Network Rail, who resigned shortly after an enbargoed copy of the judgment in the case was provided to the parties and the day after a hearing to decide who should be anonymised in the public copy of the judgment.

A further hearing is to be held to decide a number of matters including the compensation due to Mr Murdoch, who continues to work in the aviation industry.

The case has been reported on by Cornwall Live  and magazine Private Eye (No.1619 15-28 March 2024, page 15).

Relevant members
Robin White

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