LEADERSHIP: Monitor is investigating how a mental health trust is run after an employment tribunal found that a trust director was unfairly dismissed after being harassed by the former trust chair.

The regulator said concerns had been raised about the governance of Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust after the tribunal found that former human resources director Helen Marks was unfairly dismissed in 2013.

Nottingham Employment Tribunal heard last week that then trust chair Alan Baines abused his position and suspended Ms Marks after she expressed “discomfort” about their relationship and refused his romantic advances, the Press Association reported.

Monitor will examine whether the concerns raised in the case indicate “more widespread” problems with the way the trust is run, a spokeswoman said.

Trust chief executive Steve Trenchard has been suspended following the publication of the tribunal’s report and Monitor’s decision to intervene. The trust has also commissioned its own independent investigations.

The tribunal found that Professor Trenchard had protected Mr Baines, who was allowed to retire with his reputation intact.

Its report described Mr Baines as “a bully and manipulator” towards Ms Marks after she told him that she did not wish to enter into a relationship with him.

In 2013 Mr Baines received a complaint about Ms Marks from another member of staff and spoke to colleagues to build up a case against her, resulting in her dismissal, the tribunal heard.

Monitor deputy regional director Alexandra Coull said: “The employment tribunal case against the trust identified some significant issues, and as a result we believe it is right for us to examine how well the trust is being run on behalf of its patients.

“We want to understand the underlying causes of the problems identified by the employment tribunal, and find out whether the trust needs to make improvements to the way it is being run.”

Caroline Maley, senior independent director of Derbyshire Healthcare, told HSJ: “We have taken swift action to understand and begin to address the failings in our processes identified by the recent findings of an employment tribunal.

“We took immediate steps upon receiving the tribunal findings, including the setting up of two separate investigations, both conducted by external panels which are entirely independent of the trust, tasked with assessing and considering how these failings occurred.

“We welcome Monitor’s decision to take a more direct oversight of our investigation process.”