Some of our members may have read a story in today's Daily Telegraph about a recent employment tribunal with some understandable concern, and we therefore feel obliged to set the record straight on a number of key points where the story told is misleading.
1. The claim related to events which occurred in 2008-9. As we believed the claim made was both unreasonable and disproportionate, we felt obliged to contest it. Whilst the tribunal found against us on one aspect, we are pleased that the tribunal rejected the majority of the complaints made which were set out in a 37 page grievance and which the claimant later conceded were unjustified. The one count in which the tribunal found in the claimant’s favour was her removal from company email lists. This was due to Board discussions about how to respond to the grievance taking place, which we don’t feel would have been appropriate for the claimant to be included in. The tribunal also absolved Nominet of acting “in a manner that was calculated or likely to destroy the relationship of trust between employer and employee", and makes it clear that Nominet did not subject the claimant to stressful working conditions as alleged. The aggregate cost of defending and paying out the award was an order of magnitude less than the claim itself. The tribunal award itself was less than 5% of the amount claimed. There is no ongoing financial impact on Nominet as a result of the tribunal decision, as the legal costs and award have already been fully accrued for the accounting periods in question. As we’ve previously stated, we believe that in addressing this issue we have at all times taken appropriate professional advice and worked to protect Nominet, its members and employees.
2. The article suggests that Nominet influenced the independence of the Garratt report on the governance of Nominet. It was always the intention that the Board would be involved in helping Professor Garratt - who had no previous knowledge of the sector, or of Nominet - understand the complexities of the sector and Nominet as an organisation. It would have been impossible for the report to have been written in isolation from the Board. Professor Garratt always had the final say on any suggestions or corrections that came from the Nominet Board and has since confirmed again that the report conclusions were his own. In fact, he spoke at the Nominet AGM in 2009 and took questions on the report: the guidance and suggestions Nominet provided did not represent coercion to alter the report. Indeed the Professor would not be defending the work as his own if he didn’t believe it was. Where suggestions for changes were given, they were given with reasons and Professor Garratt had every option to refute and reject Nominet’s suggestions. One suggestion in particular was the removal of the recommendation that the claimant should be promoted. This was made because we did not believe it was appropriate for the report to recommend a promotion for the individual who had herself commissioned the report.
3. The article also suggests Nominet instigated Government intervention into its governance. This is not the case. Two major organisations (an ISP and a major British trade body) had already been in contact with BERR prior to any discussions between Nominet and the Government. Again, Nominet took actions focussed on supporting the ongoing trust in .uk and that we believed supported the goals of our membership as a whole. As you would expect of an organisation responsible for a piece of critical UK Internet infrastructure, we maintain a constant dialogue with the Government – but all conversations on this matter post-date the initial raising of concerns by stakeholders.
We have always prided ourselves on being an organisation that looks after its staff. It’s unfortunate that this dispute has happened at all, but now we have a decision we can draw a line under it and move on.