Former Co-op purchasing boss to seek £5 million damages in whistleblowing row

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
4 January 2016

Kath Harmeston, former procurement director for the Co-operative Group, will be seeking more than £5 million in damages from the organisation at an employment tribunal beginning this week in a row over whistleblowing.

Harmeston claims she was dismissed from the mutual after drawing attention to alleged corporate malpractice. She worked at the Co-op between April 2014 and September 2014, before she was dismissed with notice, which expired in September 2015.

Harmeston, who was previously CPO at the Royal Mail, is being represented by JMW Solicitors at the tribunal, which begins in Manchester tomorrow.

JMW would not comment on the details of the case but confirmed Harmeston would be seeking more than £5 million in damages for unfair dismissal.

Allan Leighton, chairman of the Co-op, said: “We intend to fully and robustly defend our decision to dismiss Kath Harmeston at the upcoming tribunal.

“We dismissed her because she acted in a manner which was not in keeping with the importance and seniority of her role, nor the values and principles of the Co-op.”

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