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Rolls-Royce engineer loses tribunal case on ‘whistle-blowing dismissal’

Claims from a senior Rolls-Royce engineer that he was sacked for blowing the whistle on problems with the company’s jet engines have been dismissed by an employment tribunal.

The tribunal concluded that Hilmi Kurt-Elli was not sacked for raising his concerns with the firm but for his unacceptable behaviour in failing to accept an internal investigation’s findings that his claims were unfounded.

Judge Richard Hutchinson, who chaired the tribunal in Nottingham, ruled that Rolls-Royce had little choice but to dismiss Kurt-Elli after he accused senior colleagues of conspiring in a cover up to conceal potential faults with its jet engines.

“We are satisfied the dismissal was not because he made protected disclosures [blew the whistle] but because of his behaviour,” Hutchinson said in his judgment after the three-week hearing.

In a report by The Guardian newspaper, the judge added: “He believed, and still does, that from his line manager to the chief and board of directors … [everyone is] corrupt.

“He makes the most serious allegations against all these people. We are satisfied there is not a shred of evidence to substantiate [them].”

Judge Hutchinson said Rolls-Royce had spent four years investigating his complaints in great detail by some of the most senior engineers in Rolls-Royce, yet Kurt-Elli had “continued with allegations of corruption and illegality without foundation”.

The judge added that Kurt-Elli, who was a senior design engineer working on Rolls-Royce engines that were used on more than 30 types of passenger jet, was motivated by personal antagonism.

“No one else subscribed to his view, and all those that disagreed with him were subject to his attacks,” added Judge Hutchinson.

Kurt-Elli, who was representing himself at the tribunal, did not respond to the ruling. Previously he had said: “People have lied, people have misled.”

Rolls-Royce said it would not pursue Kurt-Elli for its legal costs in defending the claim.

The company’s lawyer Sean Jones said: “The whole thing has been a tragedy and we hope that Dr Kurt-Elli will find a way to move on.”

Speaking after the ruling, a Rolls spokesman said: “Rolls-Royce takes its reputation for excellence seriously and strenuously denied the allegations in this case.

“The company is pleased that the judge has dismissed all substantive claims and cleared all the individuals against whom allegations were made.

“Thorough investigations were carried out into these allegations by Dr Kurt-Elli at the time, including by senior technical experts in line with the company’s policies and procedures.

“These concluded that there was no evidence to substantiate safety or product integrity concerns.”

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