Published: 05/02/2004, Volume II4, No. 5891 Page 8

An industrial tribunal has found that former finance director Ian Perkin was unfairly dismissed by St George's Healthcare trust on a procedural technicality.

The tribunal decided that if the dismissal had been handled correctly it would have been fair because he contributed to his dismissal 'to the extent of 100 per cent'.

Mr Perkin says he was sacked after he queried why a junior member of staff had been ordered to record the weekly number of cancelled operations as zero, instead of 28, on a star-rating assessment form, and why a similar situation had arisen twice previously.

The tribunal ruled that he was not dismissed because he was a whistle-blower, but because 'there is ample evidence that [Mr Perkin's] style was adversely affecting the operation of the respondent trust at a most senior level and adversely affecting the trust both internally and externally'.

Far from being an exposé of underlying deception, it said the 'cancelled operations incident was resolved within four days of being raised in a professional manner'.

Although Mr Perkin said he was 'very pleased' with the verdict, its terms mean that he will not be receiving any compensation or be able to return to his post. The trust is in the process of appointing a replacement finance director.

Mr Perkin said he intends to mount a legal challenge.

He said: 'This is a real David and Goliath issue. I told the truth about the difficulties we were having making cost reductions and that made me unpopular. It doesn't mean that I haven't been proved right.'

The tribunal heard evidence from colleagues that Mr Perkin had an exemplary record and ran a well-qualified, committed and loyal team. However, managers and clinicians did not take to his abrasive personality or 'doom and gloom' approach.

In a statement St George's said: 'Mr Perkin's dismissal was not due to allegations he made about cancelled operations statistics, nor to criticisms of the NHS finance system, nor indeed for any other reason save that his style of management had a serious adverse effect on the running of St George's.'