THE FATHER of murdered student Amanda Duffy has launched a legal action claiming he was wrongly sacked by a charity he ran to help victims’ families.
Joe Duffy, 65, was dismissed from his post with Petal (People Experiencing Trauma and Loss), an organisation that helps people affected by murder or suicide, but has taken the group to an employment tribunal.
Mr Duffy, of Hamilton, Lanarkshire, has claimed he was unfairly dismissed and was also denied holiday entitlement.
He appeared at a hearing in Glasgow yesterday where Petal director Lesley Carmody said Mr Duffy was dismissed from his post in July last year following a disciplinary hearing.
He later lost an appeal against his sacking and has now launched his legal claim.
Ms Carmody said an office bust-up that was alleged to have flared up between Mr Duffy and a staff member led to an in-house probe.
She said: “There was an incident reported by one of the directors, Ann Gardner, that Mr Duffy had spoken to her in an aggressive manner in front of others.“We decided that we needed to investigate these allegations further and we agreed that we would need to suspend Mr Duffy when they were looked at.”
Ms Carmody alleged the probe raised further questions and number of issues linked to finances at Petal came to the surface.
She added: “When Mr Duffy was suspended a number of other issues were brought to light during that time
“It came to our knowledge that a self-employed therapist, Jean Lamont, who we paid by the hour, was selling vouchers on Petal premises and treating clients that were not Petal clients on Petal premises.
“She informed us it had been authorised by Mr Duffy and she said that everyone knew. There was also an issue with water coolers.
“It transpired that water dispensers on the premises were provided by Mr Duffy and Petal were paying a monthly fee to him for them and for the maintenance of them.
“It transpired that the accounts that the money was paid into was in the name of Joe and Kate Duffy. There was also a company called Speedlamps owned by Mr Duffy which provided light bulbs and batteries that were purchased by Petal.
“I was aware that we were buying these but I wasn’t aware that this was Mr Duffy’s company.”
Last month a separate tribunal heard claims Mr Duffy was investigated for ‘financial irregularities’ amid concern he had misused funds at the Hamilton-based charity.
The claims were raised at an employment tribunal in the case of Ann Marie Cocozza - another former employee at the charity who claims she tried to kill herself after being bullied by Mr Duffy.
Ms Cocozza, of Hamilton, is suing the charity for unfair dismissal, claiming she was sacked after disclosing information about Mr Duffy.
Mr Duffy’s daughter Amanda was killed 23 years ago in Hamilton.
Last month it emerged prosecutors at the Crown Office in Edinburgh have applied to the High Court for permission to raise a new indictment against Francis Auld, the man who walked free from her murder trial.
His acquittal prompted a national debate on the future of not proven verdicts by Scots juries.
In 1995 Amanda’s parents launched a civil case against Auld. The judge found Auld responsible for the death of their daughter and awarded them £50,000 in damages.
Mr Duffy’s tribunal continues.