A settlement has been reached midway through a tribunal in which Arch’s former finance director had been claiming unfair dismissal.
Paul Czerepok had said that his sacking for gross misconduct, following suspension and an investigation in the wake of the Conservatives taking over at County Hall in May 2017, was ‘politically motivated’.
Northumberland County Council’s leader, Peter Jackson, and chief executive, Daljit Lally, were named respondents (those alleged to be responsible) in the case too, but both denied the allegations.
It came just a few days after the special meeting of the council’s audit committee to discuss a 98-page internal audit report, which raised a number of concerns, including hospitality spending, ‘unduly generous’ packages for consultants, nepotism and relationships with external contractors, companies and Ashington Community Football Club.
And one of these issues – the previously-revealed purchase by Arch of the then chief executive Peter McIntyre’s house at Hepscott for £395,000 in 2016 – formed a key part of the tribunal, as Mr Czerepok had signed off on this purchase and it was the governance concerns around this that led to his dismissal.
The tribunal, which began hearing witness evidence last Tuesday (March 26), was due to continue through this week.
Testimony had been heard from Mr Czerepok; former council chief executive, Steve Mason; former interim chief executive of Arch, Jacqui Kell; Coun Jackson and Ms Lally, but the hearing was cut short just before Mr McIntyre was due to appear on Tuesday (April 2) afternoon.
It was revealed that the legal teams had gone behind closed doors to discuss a potential settlement, before a statement released today (Wednesday, April 3) on behalf of both parties confirmed an agreement had been reached.
A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said: “An agreement has been reached following an employment tribunal claim brought by Paul Czerepok, a former employee of Arch Corporate Holdings Limited, following his dismissal for gross misconduct in April 2018.
“The tribunal commenced a hearing on March 25, with witness evidence commencing on Tuesday, March 26, and being presented over six days, to consider allegations of wrongful and unfair dismissal and detriments relating to public interest disclosures.
“The tribunal made no findings in relation to these matters. The parties will make no further comment.”
Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service