Council worker who lifted the lid on mistakes in children at risk records wins 70,000 payout for being sacked unfairlyJohn Coatman received the payout after a battle with Salford CouncilWas sacked after raising concerns over figures in line manager's reportMr Coatman says the case caused him so much stress he suffered a stroke
09:52 GMT, 20 February 2013
11:03 GMT, 20 February 2013
John Coatman has been awarded nearly 70,000 after winning an unfair dismissal case against Salford Council for being sacked after raising concerns about inaccuracies in a report about children at risk of abuse
A council worker sacked after pointing out inaccuracies in a report about children at risk of abuse has been awarded 67,995 in an unfair dismissal case.
John Coatman, 59, received the payout after a battle with Salford Council, which started in 2008. He says the case caused him so much stress he suffered a stroke.
But Mr Coatman, from Salford, has now said it felt 'fantastic' to know he had won 'after years of hell'.
He said: 'Even though the tribunal was a success I still wasn't sure I'd get the pay-out I felt I deserved, so this is very important to me.
'I would have taken 50,000 three years earlier if they had offered it, but this has caused me years of stress.'
Mr Coatman won his case after an employment tribunal, which began in September 2011.
It heard that he emailed a top Salford council director in 2008 over concerns that figures in his line manager's report on the safety of children at risk of abuse were inaccurate.
The council's children's services department was under pressure at the time because it was deemed 'inadequate' by government inspectors.
Mr Coatman, a statutory returns analyst, says he raised concerns but they were dismissed and his manager asked him to lie about the figures – which his manager denied before the tribunal.
But the tribunal heard Mr Coatman was 'disgusted' and sent an email raising his concerns to Jill Baker – then director of the department.
He also sent the email to Ofsted, the Audit Commission and Government Office North West.
The figures were eventually rectified, but Mr Coatman alleged that after sending the emails he was threatened with disciplinary action, subjected to intimidating behaviour by some staff and forced to move desks before being suspended.
His managers said they suspended him for allegedly communicating with colleagues in a highly inappropriate and threatening manner and failing to follow management requests.
At a disciplinary hearing, it was alleged the council's trust and confidence in Mr Coatman had broken down.
He claimed the allegations were malicious and took the council to a tribunal, which ruled his dismissal was unfair. His award takes into account loss of earnings and pension over three years.
Stress: Mr Coatman said the case has caused him so much stress he suffered a stroke
In 2009, Mr Coatman was admitted to Salford Royal hospital suffering from a minor stroke. He said: 'The doctors couldn't work it out because I was physically fit, I played football and worked out, but then they asked if I'd been experiencing stress, and of course I had. It has been very, very difficult.'
Mr Coatman has since found a new job with a management consultancy firm. He said: 'I am enjoying being in work again and even more so because my colleagues are great to work with.'
Councillor John Merry, who oversees children's services, said: 'We are in a different place now to when Mr Coatman was employed at the council and action has been taken to improve the service.
Ofsted has recently lifted the improvement notice and congratulated officers for the good progress made in the last two years.'
Inaccuracies: Mr Coatman says he raised concerns but they were dismissed, and his manager asked him to lie about the figures – which his manager denied. Pictured is Salford Civic Centre, the administrative headquarters of the council