Union member who spoke at pro-Brexit rally wins unfair dismissal claim

Pro-Brexit firefighter who was SACKED from union for giving a speech in favour of leaving the EU wins unfair dismissal claim as tribunal rules bosses ‘dug for dirt’ on him in ‘blatant witch-hunt’

  • Union leader Paul Embery accused of undermining his union at a pro-Brexit rally
  • Embery appeared alongside Nigel Farage at Leave Means Leave speech in 2019
  • He was sacked after what the Fire Brigade Union saw was a ‘treacherous’ talk
  • Employment tribunal ruled in his favour, agreeing he was victim of a ‘witch-hunt’ 

A former Fire Brigade Union leader who was sacked after speaking at a pro-Brexit rally has won his unfair dismissal claim after a tribunal agreed that he was the victim of a ‘witch-hunt’. 

Paul Embery was accused of undermining the union during a speech alongside Nigel Farage at a Leave Means Leave rally in central London in March 2019.

He successfully sued FBU for unfair dismissal after he was kicked off the National Executive, after arguing he was sacked for his ‘pro-Brexit views’ and was victim of a ‘blatant dig for dirt’. 

An employment tribunal in Norwich ruled in Embery’s favour, arguing that it would ‘appear from the start of the investigation process that there was an agenda to have the claimant removed.’

The judgement continued: ‘The investigation… looked like no more than a witch-hunt. The ambit of the investigation, when looking at the facts, was bizarre.

‘How could any fair-minded member come to a reasonable belief on the facts that the claimant had committed any form of misconduct?’ 

Paul Embery (pictured) was accused of undermining the union during a speech alongside Nigel Farage at a Leave Means Leave rally in central London in March 2019

In a statement shared to Twitter, Paul Embery said the tribunal ruled in his favour and agreed that he was a victim of a ‘witch-hunt’

Now a columnist at UnHerd, Embery tweeted his delight at the news this morning.

He said: ‘I have WON my unfair dismissal against the FBU after I was sacked in relation to a speech I gave to a pro-Brexit rally in 2019.’ 

The former London regional secretary of the FBU, which he remains a member of, was removed from his post after what he claims the union saw as a ‘treacherous’ speech at a protest in March 2019. 

He been an active member of the FBU – whose official position on Brexit was to support ‘Remain – for more than two decades, joining his first union when he was 16.

But, the full-time trade unionist was kicked out of the national executive of the FBU after arguing in favour of Brexit at the ‘Leave Means Leave’ rally, in which Nigel Farage also spoke.  

Nigel Farage (pictured in 2018 right) was also present at the March 2019 Leave Means Leave rally

Hours before his speech at the Leave Means Leave rally (pictured), FBU’s Ian Murray told him that to speak alongside Mr Farage would be a breach of union rules

In his witness statement, Mr Embery, who represented himself at the tribunal he.eld in Norwich, said reasons for his dismissal were ‘contrived, unprecedented and perverse’.

Hours before his speech at the Leave Means Leave rally, FBU’s Ian Murray told him that to speak alongside Mr Farage would be a breach of union rules.

Some 13 days later, Mr Embery was told he was under investigation and six allegations were held against him. Four complaints were upheld, with one resulting in a two-year ban on standing for office in the union. 

Speaking at a previous tribunal hearing in February, Embery said: ‘I have always considered that the FBU’s justification for my dismissal was spurious, dishonest, and a cover for the true reason, namely my support for Britain’s secession from the EU and my increasing public profile in that national debate.’

He said his relationship with the FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack deteriorated in 2018, adding that they argued during a union meeting in January 2019.

Mr Embery’s relationship with FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack (pictured) deteriorated 

Soon after, assistant general secretary Andy Dark messaged Mr Embery to tell him Mr Wrack ‘is looking for things to be angry about… He will come again, and soon… Think you should have the heads up.’ 

‘I interpreted all of this as a very clear warning that I was under the microscope and may soon be targeted,’ Mr Embery said at the tribunal hearing.

The FBU denied allegations the decision to remove him from office was unfair and discriminatory. It stated Mr Embery was not an employee of the FBU, and therefore could not be sacked for unfair dismissal.

Speaking after the tribunal, Mr Embery said: ‘While I am glad that after two years justice has finally been served, I take no pleasure in the outcome.

‘It was an honour to serve as an FBU official for 20 years, and I remain to this day a proud member of the union.

‘The FBU does brilliant things for its members, day in day out. I fully intend to keep supporting its campaigns and activities into the future.’ 

FBU have been contacted to provide comment. 

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