Nearly half the radiologists at a hospital trust left the provider in a row about private sector work, HSJ can reveal.

County Durham and Darlington Foundation Trust saw four of its 9.5 whole time equivalent radiologists quit ahead of an investigation or get dismissed, a judgment from an employment tribunal reveals.

The document, released this month after a hearing in July, showed two of the radiologists lost their claim for victimisation after leaving.

The judgment said the trust started an investigation into four medics in November 2012 and “the basis of the investigation was that those radiologists may have been undertaking work for and being paid by Medica during time when they were supposed to be working for and were being paid by the [trust]”.

Medica is a teleradiology provider with an annual turnover of £28.5m. Earlier this year it floated on the London stock exchange.

The tribunal heard that the four radiologists were invited to disciplinary hearings in October 2013, which included allegations that they had failed to cooperate with the investigation.

Two of the radiologists resigned before disciplinary hearings in September 2014. They brought employment tribunal claims that were dismissed in December 2015 and were referred to the General Medical Council in April 2016.

The other two radiologists, Mr N Vishwanath and Mrs M Vishwanath, who are married, were dismissed and resigned before the disciplinary process finished respectively. They both brought employment tribunal claims against the trust that were settled with a compromise agreement in April 2016, the most recent judgment said. The trust reported them to the GMC in June 2016.

The claimants’ most recent case was that the timing of this referral constituted victimisation.

The judgment said: “The claimants insisted that the late referral of their cases to the GMC was a deliberate act, designed to prolong their suffering if the GMC carried out a further protracted investigation into their professional conduct.”

The trust said the delay was caused by the protracted nature of the original investigation. disciplinary proceedings, the grievance process, the appeals in the disciplinary and grievance process, the employment tribunal proceedings and the county court proceedings.

The tribunal accepted this argument and dismissed the most recent claim.

HSJ approached the claimants for comment but received no response.

A trust spokeswoman said it would not add anything to what was already in the public domain, including how much it settled with the claimants for.

The tribunal document said the compromise agreement saw “both claimants provide warranties in return for the payment of a substantial sum of money. Those warranties include binding agreements not to commence any future or further proceedings against the respondent in respect of anything arising out of their employment with the respondent or its termination. The tribunal found that the present proceedings are a clear breach of those warranties, which should be given in each case their ordinary meaning.”