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Former council employee ordered to pay £117k after council discrimination claim rejected
An “unscrupulous” former council employee who unsuccessfully took Waltham Forest Council to an employment tribunal has been ordered to pay record legal costs.
David Makanjuola, who worked as an environmental health enforcement officer for the authority for almost 20 years, made 69 separate allegations against the authority.
He claimed unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment because of race and disability.
But when the tribunal unanimously rejected all claims the council successfully applied to be reimbursed for legal costs of £117,000.
The highest cost previously awarded to an individual was £83,000, according to the council’s law firm, Ely Place Chambers.
Explaining his decision, which Mr Makanjuola is appealing against, Employment Judge Ferris said: “When a large organisation (like the respondent) faces elaborately organised claims, presented by an extremely intelligent and unscrupulous litigant like the claimant, it is very much more difficult to defend than it is when a claimant is merely inefficient and clumsy.
“We accept that the cost to the respondent must, for these reasons, have been unusual and excessive.”
Mr Makanjuola worked for the council from Feb 23 1992 until his dismissal, which the council said was for gross misconduct, on March 21 2011.
The issue has been ongoing since he first appealed the dismissal in April 2011.
Councillor Mark Rusling, cabinet member for economic development and corporate resources, said: “After two years of unnecessary time and costs we’re ecstatic with the result achieved by our in-house legal service and the fact that our full costs have been awarded.
“As a council we do not tolerate discrimination against any member of staff. All claims of this nature are taken seriously but where we know a claim is unfounded we will have no hesitation in vigorously defending the council’s position and recovering our costs, which is, at the end of the day, public money.”