A 'Big Six' energy giant has been forced to pay out almost £230,000 to a worker who was unfairly sacked.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has also been lambasted for the way it treated employee Donald Nutt, with an employment judge claiming the firm's HR process was "reminiscent of a show trial in the former Soviet Union".

Following a lengthy employment tribunal, Judge Ian McFatridge ordered the firm to re-hire the energy trader but they refused to do so, meaning he was awarded the substantial payout instead.

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Mr Nutt, of Dundee, worked with the firm for 16 years before he was dismissed in October 2014 after voicing concerns about health and safety and raising a grievance.

The firm claimed he was sacked due to a "breakdown in trust and confidence", however the tribunal found that he was poorly treated by SSE and was sacked because their HR department did not know how to deal with him.

SSE were also said to have made a "complete mess" of his disciplinary.

In a written judgment on the case, Judge McFatridge said: "...we strongly agreed with Mr Nutt’s characterisation of the way he had been treated by HR as being appalling. 

"There were many, many examples of extremely poor practice and there had been genuine unfairness to Mr Nutt on a substantial number of occasions."

HeraldScotland: SSE have been ordered to pay out almost £230,000SSE have been ordered to pay out almost £230,000

The tribunal heard that Mr Nutt first raised concerns about health and safety and his shift patterns in 2012, resulting in numerous, lengthy discussions and emails with his bosses over a long period of time.

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Following this, Mr Nutt received a negative appraisal from bosses, despite his previous reviews being positive. He was also issued with an informal warning and went on to raise a grievance about the way he had been treated which was not upheld by SSE.

Mr Nutt then went off sick with stress for a long period of time, but had regular contact with HR business partner Emma Illingworth.

After one meeting between the pair to discuss Mr Nutt returning to work, Ms Illingworth took the decision to raise disciplinary proceedings against him.

The judgment stated: "It was clear that at the meeting on August 1, Emma Illingworth was demanding that Mr Nutt not only accept throughout that he had been wrong, but also accept a number of factual circumstances that weren't true - principally that his grievance had been properly investigated. It quite clearly had not.

"At many instances during the meeting it appears that SSE not only wished Mr Nutt to acknowledge that he was wrong, but express gratitude to SSE for treating him as they had.

"This is somewhat reminiscent of a show trial in the former Soviet Union rather than modern employment relations practice."

Mr Nutt was then suspended and a disciplinary hearing took place the following month.

He was accused of failing to accept the findings of his grievance and "failing to demonstrate SSE values" by being aggressive and confrontational. His letter of suspension also said that the relationship, trust and confidence between him and company had broken down.

Judge McFatridge said the allegations were so imprecise it was "a complete impossibility" for Mr Nutt to be given a fair hearing.

He added: "It is clear that during the [disciplinary] hearing there was practically no investigation or discussion about what Mr Nutt was supposed to have done on the basis of these allegations. 

"Mr Nutt was in the Kafkaesque position of - as he put it - 'arguing that he was not argumentative'. 

"Where he was critical of SSE and in particular of Emma Illingworth this was seen as further evidence of his lack of trust and confidence in the company."

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He was eventually dismissed due to the breakdown in trust issue because he continued to criticise SSE and the way he had been treated.

The tribunal found that this criticism was "entirely justified", adding that it was inappropriate for SSE to take it as "evidence of the claimant’s lack of trust and confidence in the company".

Judge McFatridge added: "Our view at the end of the day was that Ms Illingworth took the decision that the claimant should be managed out of the business fairly early on and that the reason was basically that she did not know how to properly deal with the issues raised by the claimant."

Mr Nutt was initially awarded £140,000 but this increased to £226,352.14 when SSE refused to re-hire him.

The tribunal did not uphold Mr Nutt's claim that he was unfairly treated for blowing the whistle.

SSE declined to comment.