North-east energy firm did not investigate staff drug use claims, tribunal hears

Former Vattenfall site manager, Roger Hammond.

A north-east energy firm failed to properly investigate a whistleblower’s claims that staff were on drugs, a tribunal has heard.

Roger Hammond alleges Vattenfall sacked him for alerting senior management to a problem with illegal substances at the Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm substation at Blackdog.

Mr Hammond, who was site manager at the development, also claims the company got rid of him after he reported an 11-year-old girl had been allowed to drive a digger.

However, the company has argued that he was sacked from his role as site manager because of his fractured relationship with his colleagues, one of whom accused him of sexual harassment.

The firm now faces allegations that it wrongfully dismissed Mr Hammond, from Warrington, in February of this year.

Yesterday the windfarm’s project manager Adam Ezzamel gave evidence at the hearing in Aberdeen.

Mr Hammond’s barrister Nigel Grundy asked the witness whether any investigation was carried out by the firm after Mr Hammond told them videos were circulating of site workers taking cocaine on a night out.

He said that no inquiries were carried out and no drug tests were carried out either though there potentially would have been random ones in accordance with company policy.

Mr Ezzamel also denied that he had ever been made aware that the construction manager had taken cocaine in front of Mr Hammond off-site.

He said that senior management were aware of the digger incident – where a health and safety officer at the development allowed her daughter to drive an excavator while contractor JM Murphy’s regional manager held onto the side of the vehicle – but did they not initially know the vehicle had been mobile.

Mr Ezzamel said that Mr Hammond had exhibited a “pattern of behaviour” in his time at the company, where there had been frequent “personality clashes” with co-workers.

He also recounted a team night out where, he claimed, Mr Hammond was drunk and became aggressive after “banter” with a colleague turned sour.

He said that there had been discussions weeks before Mr Hammond was sacked where they had decided to find a replacement because he was incompetent, but he claimed this process was accelerated when a colleague accused him of sexual harassment.

When pressed by Mr Grundy, he could not account for why this was not in Vattenfall’s official response to the tribunal, which  the barrister said relied solely on the harassment element.

Mr Grundy put it to the witness that he had “over-blown” Mr Hammond’s problems in an attempt to cover the real reason his contract had been terminated.

Mr Ezzamel denied this.

Sandra Hayes, electrical packaging manager for the firm, also gave evidence.

She also claimed management had been considering replacing Mr Hammond weeks before his dismissal due to his problems with other staff.

Mr Grundy questioned why this had not been in her witness statement or the firm’s official response to the tribunal.

She said that she did not think Mr Hammond’s allegations surrounding drugs were made in good faith which is why no investigation took place.

The tribunal continues.

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