A BETTING firm has been forced to pay out almost £45,000 to three former employees after sacking them for serving a 16-year-old boy believed to have produced fake ID.

Mary Ann Napier, Debbie McDaide and Christopher Imrie were dismissed from their posts in a Lanarkshire William Hill betting shop after the teenager's mother complained to the police.

Despite the workers saying the boy - known only as Y - produced ID on several occasions, bosses at the bookmakers accepted the youth's claims that he was never asked for proof of age.

An employment tribunal has now ruled that there were "no reasonable grounds" for them to come to that decision.

In his judgment, judge Charles Watt wrote: "The boy gave his statement in the presence of his mother. His mother was already considerably angry at the boy's behaviour in gambling away large sums of money in betting shops. A large amount of this money had come from the boy's grandfather.

"It was in this background that Y stated to [William Hill] that he had not been asked for identification and had not produced a false document."

He added: "The tribunal consider that there appears to be a lot of evidence which [William Hill] had which would indicate that the boy had shown a false ID. In the view of the tribunal, there were no reasonable grounds on the evidence before [management] to believe that Y was not asked to show identification to the claimants.

"The respondents did not know Y. They had three employees, with considerable length of service between them, telling them that Y was not telling the truth."

Deputy manager Mrs Napier, of Larkhall, received an award of £21,003, while sales assistants Miss McDaide, of Hamilton, and Mr Imrie, of Motherwell, received £13,406 and £8,744, respectively.

The three were dismissed from the firm's branch in Brandon Street, Hamilton, in January last year following a disciplinary investigation and hearing.

Throughout the process, the workers' representative, Claire Latta, told bosses that the boy had also been betting at a local Betfred shop and had produced ID there.

She explained that Betfred keep a record of ID and claimed the teenager had been caught out at that shop because employees spotted a photograph of him with his school football team in a local newspaper. However, William Hilldismissed this as "hearsay".

Judge Watt said: "It is within judicial knowledge of the tribunal that betting companies regularly share information about particular gamblers. The tribunal consider it would have been relatively simple for the security department of William Hill to contact the security department of Betfred and to exchange information between them regarding this matter."

He added: "The tribunal have no doubt that a reasonable employer would have made enquiries of Betfred to establish whether Y had bet at their shop, had produced identification and, if so, what identification had been produced. In all the circumstances, the tribunal consider that there has been a failure by the respondents in their duty to carry out a reasonable investigation."

A spokesman for William Hill said: "The members of staff were dismissed due to our belief that they contravened our Think 21 policy - a policy that underpins every shop team's compliance.

"Our age-verification pass rates sit within the highest of all industries and we will continue to take a strong stance on preventing underage and vulnerable people from gambling and will continue to do so."

Meanwhile, a driving test manager has lost his claim for unfair dismissal after he was sacked for falsifying test reports.

Robert McLean lost four test certificates and provisional licences when he went for a swim after conducting the driving tests.

Instead of telling bosses at the Driving Standards Agency of the loss, he falsified four new reports.

An employment tribunal heard that while he could remember the results, "he could not recall with any accuracy what had actually happened during the test route." He also forged the candidates' signatures on the forms.

The error came to light when the original documents were found and the agency was contacted. Mr McLean, of Kilmarnock, was then dismissed in July last year.

Employment judge Shona MacLean rejected his unfair dismissal claim.