Former boss of Nottingham Castle Trust makes harassment claims

Sara Blair-Manning

The former CEO of the trust that runs Nottingham Castle has made a series of allegations of bullying and harassment against her former employer.

Sara Blair-Manning, who oversaw the £30m overhaul of the castle and left the organisation in August, made the allegations in a preliminary tribunal hearing. She lost the initial claim for interim relief, but is pursuing an unfair dismissal claim.

Blair-Manning told the hearing that, in 2020 and earlier this year, she had raised concerns about “inappropriate behaviour, including bullying and harassment by trustees towards her other members of staff and external consultants”.

She added that she had tried to raise the issues with the trust on several occasions, and raised a formal grievance in July.

The following months, she was relieved of her duties via a letter.

Employment Judge Rachel Broughton told the hearing a tribunal: “She was not told the charges against her, she was not warned that this was a disciplinary hearing, it was over in a few minutes and she was given no right of appeal. Staff were told of her dismissal less than half an hour after the end of the meeting.

“However, the critical issue is not substantive or procedural unfairness, but whether all the requirements of the protected disclosure provisions have been satisfied on the evidence.”

Blair-Manning released a statement following the hearing, which said: “Throughout my career, I have consistently championed a work environment that promotes the highest standards of integrity, fairness, and mutual respect.

“It is right to expect the same for both myself and all those associated with Nottingham Castle.”

A spokesperson for the Nottingham Castle Trust board said in a statement: “I can confirm that 29 September 2021 saw a decision on the Employment Tribunal Interim Relief application involving Nottingham Castle Trust.

“Judge Rachel Broughton dismissed the application, a decision that has been welcomed by the trust.

“The trust would like to highlight the many findings made by the judge in relation to the dismissed application and strongly denies all allegations.

“No further comment is possible at this time due to the ongoing employment tribunal claim which the trust believes to be without merit and is committed to defending vigorously.”

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