Former Tesco head Chris Bush who was recently cleared of any wrongdoing concerning an account and fraud investigation has proceeded to claim unfair dismissal.
The former UK managing director was cleared of any wrongdoing after a judge throughout the case as it was to ‘weak’ reported the Irish Examiner. The £250 million fraud and accounting scandal has been ongoing since April 2015.
Clive Howard, an employment solicitor from Slater and Gordon, said: “We can confirm that Chris Bush issued an employment claim against Tesco for unfair dismissal in April 2015.
Mr.Bush was employed at Tesco since leaving high school at the age of 16 and was receiving a salary of £2.9 million plus benefits in the year 2014. He was immediately suspended along with three co-accused after alarm bells were raised in 2015.
The scandal erupted when Tesco issued trading updates in August 2014 to the tune of £250m. It rocked the market when it later issued a statement in September admitting that the previous set of figures were incorrect. The saga wiped almost £2 billion off its share price at the time noted Alexandra Rogers of CityAM. This was a fall of almost 12%.
The company brought in the firm Deloitte to undertake a review of its accounts in 2014 following the announcement of errors in its reporting. At the time the financial issues were said to only affect the food market within the UK.
An internal whistleblower is believed to have made revelations about Mr Bush and other senior directors within the company at the time of the scandal. Following an investigation, the Serious Fraud Office also became involved in proceedings.
Three defendants were later named in an agreement between Tesco and the Serious Fraud Office. The agreement allowed the company to pay a fine without admitting any wrong-doing. However Mr Bush and his co-accused faced criminal proceedings following the disclosure. Details of the agreement were recorded in The Finacial Times.
The DPA and criminal proceedings thus resulted in contradictory outcomes which have put the former directors through a number of years of legal proceedings up to this point. It is most likely something which will be used by Mr Bush and others should they decide to proceed with actions against Tesco.
Mr Bush and John Scouler, the then UK food commercial director, were accused of being aware that profit statements were incorrect in 2014 causing the crisis within the company and towards its stock value.
But in December the proceedings came to a halt when the Judge decided that the case brought by the SFO was not strong enough.
The SFO appealed the decision which it lost.
His co-accused were also set free. A third man, Carl Rogberg was also accused but suffered a heart attack and did not face trial. It is believed he will also be acquitted once he regains his health.
The trial against the pair was expected to last three months.
Mr Bush said: “While I am delighted that my innocence has finally been established, it is troubling that Mr Scouler and I were ever charged’
“Put simply, these charges should never have been brought, and serious questions should be asked about the way in which the SFO has conducted this investigation.” quoted the Standard.
Both men’s legal team have stated their surprise that the SFO had even brought charges against the men. Those accused and their team were quite happy with the result in December.
Richard Sallybanks representing John Scouler, added: “We are delighted that Mr Scouler leaves court today knowing that the judge, having heard the entirety of the prosecution evidence, reached the firm conclusion that he had no case to answer” reported the Standard.
To help understand Mr Bush’s position we can look at former Tesco Director Kevin Grace. Mr Grace lost his job following events in 2015, however, he was never officially charged or implicated in any wrongdoing.
Mr Grace is seeking more than £600,000 in damages over the loss of his salary and benefits from Tesco reported City AM.
It is not known if Mr Bushs co-accused will take action following their acquittal but it is most likely.
Mr Bush’s solicitor stated about the case, “This was put on hold pending the criminal proceedings. Now, with the criminal proceedings all thrown out, the tribunal claim has recommenced’ as quoted in the Irish Examiner.
“Mr Bush will be making no comment at this time.”
The continuing Saga is probably one which Teso will be happy to finish in the near future, however, it is uncertain whether they will be contesting the cases now brought against them by their former employees.
Tesco declined to comment on proceedings regarding Mr Bush and the other defendants.