back to article Cloud Direct stung for £80k in constructive dismissal lawsuit after director's 'insincere' evidence to tribunal

A UK cloud reseller that tried to fend off an unfair dismissal lawsuit by giving “knowingly untruthful” evidence to a judge has been ordered to pay more than £80,000 by the Employment Tribunal. Employment Judge Jonathan Walters said Cloud Direct’s chief customer officer Ian Bowen was “evasive and disingenuous, i.e. less than …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sham bam, thank you ma'am

    Company internal grievance procedures are a sham. Their sole purpose is to weed out those who don't have the resources to go to a tribunal.

    What is the likelihood that the investigating staff member is going to write a report saying that the company he/she works for has engaged in unethical or illegal behaviour? At best you're going to get a report that says "bad things happened, but it's not bad enough to do anything that might help the complainant".

    I'd suggest that companies should be legally required to pay an external organisation to investigate grievances. If the organisation finds against the complainant, and then the case goes to an ET and is won by the complainant, the ET should fine the investigating organisation their fee. That greatly reduces the incentives for grievances to be dishonestly dismissed.

    1. stungebag

      Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

      The problem with using external organisations is that those that do well commercially will be those who develop a reputation for dismissing grievances. Then the employee is doomed as the organisation's finding will be seen as prima facie eveuidence that they were in the wrong.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

        They could be made to be co-responsible for the mistreating of grievances, pour encourager les autres...

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

        Now let's see who could we call on for expertise here...

        How about the big accountancy firms - you know, the ones who go about auditing company books in exchange for lucrative consultancy contracts.


    2. The Basis of everything is...

      Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

      I once overheard a conversation with a formerly large IT organisation that went along the lines of

      HR A: You dealing with that issue between XX and YY?

      HR B: Yeah, she got him bang to rights, there's no way we can defend against that

      HA A: Again? That's what, the third time he's been caught now? OK, settle with her quickly.

      The thing that really got me was even though after Mr XX left a short while later, he was rehired after a few years in a more senior role.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

        Was is name Harvey Weinstein, by any chance?

        IN an aside, I once overheard a conversation by HR people near my desk.

        An HR Person "Well, she's been screwed."

        An Other HR Person "What do you mean?"

        An HR Person "She's on £70k and been moved to job with a salary range that tops at 36k, so she'll never get another pay rise or bonus."

        (Troll icon for the tasteless Harvey Weinstein reference.)

    3. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Sham bam, thank you ma'am

      Any external grievance process would have to follow an internal one. You must always allow the company the chance of doing the right thing before involving expensive external consultants, which is what the ET process is.

      When applicants had to provide a list of all their relevant / active criminal convictions to any company they applied to , I did think it would be appropriate for the companies to have to provide a list of all of their County Court judgements, ET rulings and internal grievance and disciplinary proceedings, but strangely that idea was not that popular with law-makers.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone I know was in a similar situation, their line manager had a history of being best buddies with members of staff until she felt threatened work wise at which point she would manage them out of the business and appoint a new best buddy.

    Eventually the person I knew fell foul of this, was summoned to an unannounced review, got blamed for all sorts of things that were nothing to do with her, many of which were the line managers fault or caused by her incorrect instructions and were questioned at the time. They were told they would start a performance review as per this story. It was clear the performance review was a sham, the outcome was literally already defined and would result in her being dismissed.

    She could have taken the company to the cleaners for unfair dismissal, as not only was the procedure incorrect, the performance review a sham but under her contract terms the line manager wasn't entitled to perform her reviews.

    It all back fired though as it was the incentive she needed to find something better having being made miserable by the line manager for months, and 2 weeks later she announced she'd leave immediately if that was ok as she'd found a much better job with an immediate start and much (as it has proved to be) better prospects.

    1. Ben Tasker

      I had a similar threat hanging over me at one point.

      My replacement LM, for whatever reason, really, really had it in for me.

      A conveniently short time after placing a (formal) request for flexible working hours (using my statutory right to do so), I received an email with an attachment labelled "Disciplinary investigative interview".

      I spent 4 months on paid suspension whilst she tried to nail me with some fairly vague and bogus charges. Each bit of "evidence" turning out not to be evidence at all (including a claim I'd been out of the office without authorisation, when in reality I *and my colleagues* had been attending a training course she arranged and sent us on).

      Anyway, so I came back and she decided that as part of the return-to-work process I'd need to follow some processes for a while.

      Well aware of where it'd go, I got the processes in writing, and documented following them to a 'T'.

      2 weeks later, she pulled me into a meeting and said I'd not been meeting the criteria, and so a performance review process would need to be started.

      When she got to the end of the meeting and said "have you any questions for me", I said "not a question, as such, but I've got another job, so here's my notice". Which resulted in an indignant "well, you could have told me at the beginning of the meeting".

      Even before my surprise suspension, I'd known she was trying to find a way to get rid of me. During that time off, I'd been doing some contract work for a company, who ultimately said they wanted me full-time.

      As I understand it, 6 months later she still hadn't found anyone she deemed "acceptable" to fill the role, and questions had started to be asked about why.

      I've a lot of sympathy for anyone who's been through similar. Having your livelihood threatened by someone who doesn't like you, and will use any route to be shot of you, is an incredibly stressful state to exist in. I was at least lucky enough to have options, plenty don't.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        RE: Managed dismissal

        The worrying thing is that the company seems to have had no idea how bad your LM was, or any way of actually catching people like that and dealing with them.

        I was once summoned to a Friday Morning Meeting with one of the owning partners (small company so I was used to speaking to them, and unaware of the reason). Turned out to be a 'disciplinary process' meeting. I was presented with a letter listing 6 complaints allegedly made by a named individual at the client company.* There were a few things I did not like very much:

        1. The letter was not even marked "personal", which I raised but received no apology for.

        2. The partner had not actually received a letter of complaint, email or telephone call from the named complainant, despite having received a letter of complaint the last time the person had an issue with our performance (strangely due to the other members of the team, including the project manager who had not told them he would be in Russia for a couple of months during some critical part of the project).

        3. Three of the 'complaints' were things the client had actually asked me to do, like working from home - their card key access system had very few spare cards, so the alleged complaint had expressly asked me to work from home whenever possible.

        The other complaints were easily dealt with, but I was really angry, so angry I consulted a solicitor, which basically blew my pay 'rise' for that year (a humungous 1%).

        After all these years, I can only suspect that there was an effort to get me out of the company, despite doing good work as I didn't 'fit' with the psychopathic management style (I did one of those newspaper quizzes on office psychopaths. If you can tick 4 out of 10 psycho behaviours by management then you are in trouble, I ticked 8 of ten from personal experience.)

        I did seriously consider sending a Subject Access Request to the client requiring them to send me a copy of their complaint about me, but didn't. I reckon that really would have caused a fuss.

        Now I will not claim to have ever been in the easiest 50% of staff to work with (I realise now that I had quite bad depression), but as clients kept on asking for me back to do more, I can only conclude that I did some pretty good work. One even like us so much that they turned down a £20,000 cheaper offer from another competent organisation to get me and my colleague back.

        I don't know what the solution is, but it sure is a problem.

        You have my sympathies for your experience, but congratulations on getting a better job. I did eventually get made redundant (3 month's pay for doing nothing) and got a better paid job elsewhere, but it did take its toll on me.

        *(Even after all these years I retain the actual documentation, just in case. I am truly a sad nerd.)

        1. Ben Tasker

          Re: RE: Managed dismissal

          > The worrying thing is that the company seems to have had no idea how bad your LM was, or any way of actually catching people like that and dealing with them.

          I think they realised toward the end of my suspension - her line manager was present in some of the later meetings, and then there was an informal meeting with just me and her (well, and my union rep) where she very quickly changed direction and was talking about my return to work.

          One of my colleagues also put a grievance in about her shortly before that, so I think she came under some additional scrutiny.

          > I don't know what the solution is, but it sure is a problem.

          I don't think there is one really, there'll always be those who ignore whatever rules there are, and being on the receiving end is always going to be stressful, no matter how right you know you are.

          Actually, since my experience, things have got worse for people though - the Cameron's govt reduced access to employment tribunal, so people in more desperate situations no longer have the security of knowing they can seek recourse.

          So, part of the solution is to restore rights and access. But, ET should only ever be a last resort and I don't know how you resolve the issues before that point.

          > *(Even after all these years I retain the actual documentation, just in case. I am truly a sad nerd.)

          Yup, me too. Can't imagine I'll ever need it, but it costs nothing to hold onto.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      How is that really a "backfire" for the company, since they wanted to get rid of her anyway?

  3. James12345
    IT Angle

    "it is a shame that it happened in a case involving an IT company" - this is a story about Sales, not really IT. And of course a salesperson will willing submit a document full of bs - that is a fundamental operating procedure. They were simply too stupid to realise that being in court was different from being in a meeting - you can admit anything in a meeting, but as that is only verbal, it's only what gets written down that counts as the "truth".

    1. sabroni Silver badge

      this is a story about Sales, not really IT.

      It's a story about the head of Sales at an IT company being mismanaged by his bosses.

      I guess by this logic we shouldn't have any stories about Amazon's warehouse staff, they're about Warehousing not IT.

      We shouldnt't have stories about Uber, they're Taxi stories not IT stories.

      We shouldn't have stories about Google, they're Ad company stories not IT stories.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: this is a story about Sales, not really IT.

        I don't think James meant that.

        What about all the stories about IR35? That's not IT, it is income tax. But a popular subject!

        Yes I am DELIBERATELY TROLLING by calling it income tax. ;-)

    2. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

      Let's face it, if IT companies weren't allowed to tell lies I can think of at least a half dozen CEOs who would currently be doing jail sentences of... ooh, I don't know, a billion years or so?

  4. Martin


    IANAL, but I believe that if you sign a statement, and then you go back on that statement in court (or an employment tribunal) you are guilty of perjury.

    Normally, it's not really in the public interest to prosecute everyone that does that - but in this case, if the CEO and the chief customer officer were actually sent to prison for three months, it might send a message to other companies that, perhaps, it might be better to follow the legal procedures.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: Perjury?

      Raynes’ statement was a pack of lies, the judge was saying – and the CEO himself admitted it when questioned under oath

      IANAL either, but I'm presuming that perjury occurs only when you lie when under oath, and so it seems that the CEO realized (either by himself or with hints from his legal team to stop being a dick) that if he lied under oath he was looking at a personal fine, jail time or both, so he stopped bullshitting.

      1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

        Re: Perjury?

        I don't think it was actually perjury*, as it was a written statement but certainly sounds like conspiracy to pervert the course of justice**, as two people decided to tell lies to the ET.

        *Perjury: the offence of wilfully telling an untruth or making a misrepresentation under oath.

        **A conspiracy to pervert the course of justice is when two or more people agree to a course of action that will result in justice not being served on somebody. It may be one of the parties involved in the offence or another third party.

  5. cantankerous swineherd

    not every day someone wins at an employment tribunal

    1. Wilco

      It is every day. About 10% of claims are successful at the hearing. That was about 10,000 cases in 2019, or about 40 every day.


      Also about 20% are settled through ACAS arbitration, which counts as a score draw.

      What this highlights is the massive scale of employers being total asshats

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    No mention here...

    ...of whether you would do business with a company with such appalling ethics.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: No mention here...

      Sadly as the vast majority of such cases are never brought to public attention, we don't know. In any case, every really large company will have some people like that in management roles. I remember when Bruce Schneier* left BT, the security director sent round a note announcing the departure, thanking him for all his good work etc. and wishing him well in the future.

      Another senior manager (not widely known outside BT), but who was let's say 'not as well liked or respected as Mr Schneier', but more senior within the company left with no fanfare, no message of thanks, and I only found out by accident about 6 months later even though I was part of his 'virtual team' (although not in his direct line of management). Having got on the wrong side of him on a couple of occasions* (but not being important enough to feel his wrath) I was not saddened by his departure.

      *I never worked with or for Mr Schneier, have no experience of his management style, and this is merely for comparison, as Mr Schneier is well-known in the IT secret community.

      **He once complained about my conduct to me, copying the email to my line manager's line manager, but not my line manager! I very nearly returned the compliment, but that would have involved copying my reply to a board level BT director, so I chickened out.

      You know, having retired, I don't miss all this infighting and office politics one little bit :o)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Par for the course for Cloud Direct

    As someone else who has been subject to a constructive dismissal at the hands of Brett Raynes and Mark Veck, I can wholeheartedly sympathise. This is exactly Cloud Direct's modus operandi - take over smaller competitors to bolster their customer base and absorb their staff into a hostile and toxic working environment such that they want to leave of their own accord, as Cloud Direct do not want to pay redundancy money

    Those that don't leave of their own accord, or dissent, are demoted and told that their previous roles do not exist in the new larger organisation.

    After speaking to an employment solicitor, I was told I had a strong case for constructive dismissal but I lacked the means to fund litigation against Cloud Direct which I suspect is true for many of Cloud Direct's victims. However, if anyone fancies bringing a class action / group litigation against Cloud Direct then I would be very much interested in hearing from them

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Par for the course for Cloud Direct

      That is probably why Mark Veck left Cloud Direct. Among other things he was probably sick and tired of doing someone else’s dirty work. I have worked with & for Mark for many years and he absolutely the opposite to the negative comments in this post. This is squarely a Cloud Direct problem. One needs to just look at Glassdoor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Par for the course for Cloud Direct

        1) You were not present in the meeting he chaired to discuss my formal complaints of bullying, intimidation and micromanagement by his direct line reports so you are not in a position to comment

        2) There was an entire "clique" inner circle from junior to middle management that were favoured by Cloud Direct and UnitIT. If you were one of these staff you were likely treated a lot better than those outside. Perhaps this is why your experience is different

        3) This not just happened to me but my colleagues as well. In fact not a single one of my colleagues still works for Cloud Direct today, 18 months on from the takeover

        Pretending this is just a Cloud Direct issue is extremely shortsighted

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Par for the course for Cloud Direct

          You might be biased actually or holding a grudge towards Unit-IT if you say that.

          I can say one thing for sure, Unit-IT and everyone involved with that company before Cloud Direct took over, were all in one massive clique so much that there wasnt one. It was a family and everyone who joined was treated as such. If you were singled out at Unit, it was for a good reason, so please dont try throw mud on a company that doesnt deserve it. Issues arose once Cloud Direct got its hands on the culture and work style.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Par for the course for Cloud Direct

        I can 100% agree with you! I have also worked with Mark Veck for several years and he is one of the most genuine bosses one could ever ask for. He actually cares for his staff and goes the extra mile for them. If he was in this Constructive Dismissal meeting, it is only because he was forced to be in it.

        There have been several people that left Unit-IT after this merger. So one could firmly say, its a CloudDirect problem.

        If I ever have the chance to work with Mark Veck again, I would, no questions asked.

  8. Jake Maverick

    "knowingly untruthful", lying in Court....? Isn't that perjury? Thought there was a minimum mandatory prison sentence for that....?

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