Northern Ireland

Victim Support NI: Head loses job after staff complaints

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSusan Reid said she would fight the dismissal

The head of victim support in Northern Ireland has lost her job after complaints by current and former staff about how they were treated at work.

Susan Reid, who led the organisation for 10 years, said she will fight the dismissal.

She denies wrongdoing and plans to take a case to an industrial tribunal claiming unfair dismissal.

Victim Support Northern Ireland spends about £2m from the justice department each year supporting victims of crime.

An investigation into the chief executive's management style revealed that some members of staff felt they, themselves, had become the victims of unfair treatment in their own workplace

Last year, former Victim Support Northern Ireland (VSNI) trustee Tony Barclay highlighted a series of complaints from disgruntled staff.

He told the BBC: "I sadly witnessed a number of staff in distress to a point where I felt it was important these matters were raised with the board of trustees.

"I presented this concern to the the board of trustees by email."

Image caption Tony Barclay resigned because he felt the matter was so serious

He said he resigned at the same time to highlight the seriousness of the matter.

The VSNI then commissioned an independent investigation that examined complaints from staff and interviewed workers, past and present.

It said: "Following on from this investigation, a separate process was initiated under the organisation's disciplinary procedures and codes of conduct.

"This has resulted in VSNI's chief executive, Susan Reid, having her contract of employment terminated.

"The board of trustees would wish to point out that the issues dealt with were non-financial in nature."

Fight

It is understood most of the complaints raised by staff centred around allegations of unreasonable and unfair demands on them in their daily work that placed them, in some cases, under undue stress.

But Susan Reid intends to fight the dismissal.

A statement issued to the BBC from her solicitor, Stephen Mearnes, said: "From our instructions, the evidence in this case will show that our client's dismissal was procedurally and substantively unfair in multiple respects.

"This gross unfairness pervaded the entirety of the disciplinary process. Our client denies all allegations and, on her behalf, we will be seeking substantial damages against VSNI".

Victim support said it has continued to deliver a "full range of high quality services within budget... (and) we look forward to continuing delivering our services to the victims of crime throughout the region".

"VSNI will not be making any further comment given that this decision may be open to legal challenge."

Related Topics