AN MP is demanding to know why the Royal Mail is refusing to reinstate a postman – despite an employment tribunal judge ordering them to do so.
David Mitchell, 57, who has 27 years’ service, was sacked in December 2014 after a security check at the Cupar office in Fife involving sending “test” items to the office for delivery.
An employment tribunal found that the sacking of Mitchell, from Chance Inn, Cupar, was not reasonable and ordered his reinstatement.
However, Royal Mail refused to comply and asked for a reconsideration hearing, which takes place on 25 November.
Customers in the rural community have launched an online petition and held “silent protests” outside the Cupar mail office.
Mitchell described the moment he was apprehended as being “like something out of The Sweeney”.
“I was half-way round my delivery round and was talking to an old lady whose grass I’d cut the day before when suddenly two cars came to a halt beside us.
“The three men and a woman in suits flashed ID badges at me, saying they were from the Royal Mail Investigation Bureau. The old lady was shouting ‘what’s happening?’”
“They told me ‘we think you’ve been stealing mail’ and the next thing was they were piling me into the back of a car.” He added: “I’ve been a postie for 27 years, I went numb from head to toe, I was dumbstruck.”
Mitchell said the officials set up tapes and interviewed him in an “aggressive” manner for an hour back at the office. At one stage he said he was asked: “Would you just like to admit it here and now?”
He said that he was body- searched, his car and van were searched and he was then driven home, where his home was searched while a young child was present.
Royal Mail is understood to have ordered an investigation after receiving a complaint about mail going missing.
“The whole thing has been horrendous and has affected not only me but my family. My mum, who is 81, nearly collapsed when she heard about it. But the customers have been outstanding and have backed me to the hilt.”
Mitchell has been described as a “mainstay of the community”, doing volunteer work, helping customers with shopping and cutting grass for pensioners.
Jenny Macintyre, from Chance Inn, a customer on Mitchell’s round, said: “We’re all supporting Dave and trust him implicitly. The moment we heard what he was accused of none of us believed it. The Royal Mail’s decision is absolutely disgusting. I went to the tribunal and listened to all the ‘evidence’ of which there is none.”
Mitchell’s co-workers and the Communications Workers Union, are also calling for his reinstatement.
Stephen Gethins, SNP MP for North East Fife, has demanded an explanation from Royal Mail. He said: “I am very concerned by Royal Mail’s treatment of my constituent, David Mitchell, and have written to Ms Moya Greene, chief executive, to ask why Royal Mail has not implemented the judgment made by Judge I McFatridge and reinstated Mr Mitchell as directed. I await her response.”
Ken Glass of Baillies Law, Dundee, Mitchell’s solicitor, said: “The employment tribunal was fairly scathing of Royal Mail procedures and critical of its analysis.”
A spokeswoman for the Royal Mail said: “ “Royal Mail has studied the Judgment in this case. The tribunal has now listed this matter for a reconsideration hearing later in November to consider the reinstatement of this ex-employee. Until this hearing has concluded it would be inappropriate to comment further on this individual case.
“Royal Mail takes the security of mail extremely seriously indeed and investigates all complaints of tampered or stolen mail raised with us. Our internal investigation bureau operates under the highest professional standards and our customers expect RoyalMail to do everything in its power to protect the mail we are entrusted to deliver.
“Royal Mail has a zero tolerance approach to dishonesty and all employees are aware of this.”