Linklaters Employment team wins in the Court of Appeal

  • Linklaters acted pro bono in case of whistleblower Dr Kevin Beatt against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
  • Dr Kevin Beatt is a consultant cardiologist
  • Judgment found favour of Dr Beatt in all aspects of the case before the court

Linklaters has successfully acted on a pro bono basis for Dr Kevin Beatt, a consultant cardiologist and NHS whistleblower, who has won his case against Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in the Court of Appeal. 

The judgment, which was released yesterday, found in favour of Dr Beatt in all aspects of the case before the court. 

Dr Beatt was unfairly dismissed in September 2012 and subjected to detriments by the Trust after he blew the whistle about patient safety after the death of a patient, following the suspension of a cardiology nurse in the middle of an operation. The Trust alleged that Dr Beatt's concerns about patient safety were made in bad faith and with an ulterior motive. 

The case raised an interesting point of whistleblowing law and a cautionary note for employers. The Trust argued that where an employee is dismissed and the employer genuinely, but wrongly, believes they are not legally protected as a whistleblower, the dismissal should not be automatically unfair under the whistleblowing legislation. This argument would subject whistleblowers to the same test as employees who are dismissed for ordinary unfair dismissal – for example, where an employer can fairly dismiss an employee if they genuinely, but wrongly, believe that the employee had ‘stolen money from the till’.

Lord Justice Underhill dismissed this argument, stating it was “plainly wrong”. The Court of Appeal found the Trust’s position “would be unacceptable in policy terms” as it “would enormously reduce the scope of protection” provided by the whistleblowing legislation. Employers should take note of Lord Justice Underhill’s warning that: “If there is a moral from this very sad story…it is that employers should proceed to dismissal of a whistleblower only where they are as confident as they reasonably can be that the disclosures in question are not protected.”

Linklaters’ team was led by Partner Nicola Rabson, with Counsel David Speakman, and managing associates Catrin Llewellyn and Rachel Morgan.

Nicola Rabson, Linklaters’ Global Head of Employment and Incentives, said:

“We’re thrilled to have helped Dr Beatt achieve a successful outcome, and to have been able to act on a pro bono basis in the Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeals Tribunal and Court of Appeal on such a worthwhile claim.”  

Daniel Stilitz QC and Harini Iyengar of 11 King’s Bench Walk were instructed by Linklaters on a pro bono basis as Counsel for Dr Beatt.