A well-respected Cupar postman has vowed to continue his battle to force Royal Mail to give him his job back.
Dave Mitchell, whose round for the last 17 years covered rural Ceres, Craigrothie, Cults and his home village of Chance Inn, was dismissed last December after allegedly being responsible for mail going missing.
Dave, who has worked as a postie for 27 years, was stopped by a Royal Mail Investigation Bureau in July 2014 and he, his home, his car and his works van were searched for missing items believed to be greetings cards. But nothing was found.
He was suspended for 15 weeks until disciplinary action began. On December 5, he was dismissed. The internal process continued with an appeal in January but this upheld the dismissal.
Dave was also advised the matter had been reported to the Procurator Fiscal and was cited to appear in court. However, the case was later dropped due to lack of evidence.
Buoyed by a massive wave of local support, the 57-year-old took the matter to an Employment Tribunal which found Royal Mail had failed to investigate the allegations against him adequately before deciding to dismiss him.
The judge, Ian McFatridge, concluded there was insufficient grounds for Royal Mail to sustain its belief he was guilty and the organisation was told to reinstate him and pay him all money due.
However, with only one per cent of Employment Tribunal cases winning full reinstatement, Dave is still no further forward with getting his job back.
Royal Mail , he claims, has exploited a loophole in employment law which means it doesn’t have to give him his job back, despite a judge ruling it should. The next stage is a reconsideration of judgement hearing next month.
Dave, who is a volunteer driver for Age Concern, said: “I fully understand that Royal Mail’s priority is to safeguard the delivery of its customers’ mail. I did this and more for 27 years, often going beyond the call of duty for some customers, not because I had to but because I wanted to.
“The investigation was shoddy and if Royal Mail thought I was stealing mail, they should have checked my van before I left the road from the sorting office – not after it was back and had been driven by three people after me.
“Why did they not use trackers on envelopes and tracers on the contents? Instead, they have tried to ruin my livelihood and my reputation. They have no evidence of anything and have put me and my family through a nightmare.
“My health has suffered and I can’t get another job with this hanging over me. I have been accused of something but, despite being 100 per cent innocent, they’ve turned things round so I’ve got to prove I didn’t steal anything – how am I supposed to do that?”
An online petition at change.org – ‘UK Employment law: the Judges Decision Should be Final’ – has been backed by hundreds of Dave’s supporters.
Commenting that the case was ongoing, a spokesman for Royal Mail said: “Royal Mail has studied the judgement in this case and is seeking a reconsideration hearing on the reinstatement of this ex-employee.”
Commenting on its policies involving mail deliveries, she added: “The safety and security of mail is of the utmost importance to this business.”
North East Fife MSP Roderick Campbell said: “Mr Mitchell has gone through a lot of personal distress as a result of losing his job and it is heartening that the tribunal found in his favour. Orders for reinstatement are quite rare.
“I understand that, at the moment, the Royal Mail is seeking to contest the order for reinstatement. I await to see how the hearing develops.
He added: “Assuming the Royal Mail is unsuccessful in overturning the order for reinstatement I will be seeking to encourage them to re-employ Mr Mitchell.”