BARRHEAD Travel Bill Munro says he feels “vindicated” after a tribunal found he was unfairly dismissed, but did not award compensation.

Mr Munro left the business in November, 2018 - just nine months after selling up to US travel giants Travel Leaders Group the previous February.

And the 75-year-old, who initially stayed on as chairman after the buyout, pursued an employment tribunal against his former firm amid claims his dismissal process was a "sham".

His position as chairman was made redundant a month after he was offered a 25-hours-a-month contract to carry out "special projects" with no continuity of service.

Employment Judge Lucy Wiseman said that an offer of alternative employment to Mr Munro on "unreasonable terms" and a flawed appeal process "rendered the dismissal of the claimant unfair".

Mr Munro took his case to the tribunal hoping to be reinstated as Barrhead chairman, insisting during the tribunal that he “was not here for the money”.

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But it was ruled “not practicable” after Ms Wiseman took into account a breakdown in the relationship between Mr Munro and the TLG management team.

While he was not awarded compensation, he will be paid £2,754 “in respect of the balance of the payment of notice” on top of a redundancy package of £15,240 which has already been transferred.


Mr Munro, who started Barrhead Travel in 1975, with just one shop and four members of staff, said that there may be further legal action in the future “This has been a harrowing, emotional and stressful time," he said.

“I have had to endure the ordeal of having my life’s achievements being traduced in public."

The former executive, who grew Barrhead Travel to become one of the UK's largest independent travel agencies, with more than 70 stores employing 1000 workers added: “In my career I have been awarded three lifetime achievement awards – two in the UK travel industry and a third from the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce. These mean the world to me.

“And my reputation was brought into question… I am delighted the tribunal has vindicated me.”

A findings of fact statement from the tribunal said that TLG understood that he had started to step away from the day-to-day running of the business after the sale while he remained in an ambassadorial role of chairman and founder.

The statement said Mr Munro was not initially expected to work full time or for a set number of hours but would be paid £67 per hour for anything he did outside his "special projects" role for TLG in the UK. It was anticipated he would receive no more than £25,000 per year in the role which was to look at opportunities for growth but TLG did not want him directly involved in Barrhead Travel work.

But the tribunal heard that TLG chief executive Ninan Chacko had become "alarmed" that Mr Munro was averaging seven hours per day which "exceeded what had been expected" and had focussed "almost entirely" on Barrhead Travel activities.

Barrhead Travel TV advert from 2017

By May, 2018, Mr Munro was given a 25-hours-a-month contract was offered with maximum pay of £1675 a month and his responsibilities were for projects directed by TLG's global head of supply relationships, Andrew Winterton.

Mr Munro said he had "quite a lump in my throat" when the contract stated there would be no period of continuous employment.

The findings of fact document said Mr Munro felt he was being asked to "effectively forego" the last 43 years of continuous service in exchange for a fresh start under the new arrangement.

The following month, TLG told Mr Munro of Mr Chacko's preliminary view that there was no longer a need for a chairman and that during a consultation process he would be informed of any alternative roles that may be on offer to avoid making him redundant.

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By July he had been made redundant as chairman of Barrhead Travel, and received a payment of £15,240 while being offered work on special projects on a consultancy basis.

Mr Munro appealed saying he found it impossible to continue with special projects while at home, and argued he still had something to contribute to Barrhead Travel. The tribunal findings of fact said that after a discussion, Mr Chacko referred to Mr Munro as having been "disruptive" and the appeal was rejected.

"Mr Chacko did not consider reinstatement was an option for the claimant because his role no longer existed," the tribunal was told. "The claimant’s previous actings had been disruptive and detrimental to the business (for example the claimant’s continued involvement in Barrhead Travel and use of its staff and resources and he had attended at shops to use the photocopier and had had to be asked to leave by security).

"TLG had paid for the whole Barrhead business with a management team, and the claimant’s reinstatement would be at odds with the ability of the management team to be successful. "

According to the tribunal papers, Barrhead Travel argued that the removal of the role of chairman was a "legitimate and rational business decision" and acted "reasonably" in offering Mr Munro a new role.

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The firm argued that if Mr Munro had accepted the consultancy agreement, he would have suffered no harm financially because he had already received a full statutory redundancy payment.

But Mr Munro's representatives argued to the tribunal that his ambassadorial role had not been made redundant and the outcome of dismissal had been predetermined.

Ms Wiseman said it was "clear" that Mr Munro found it "very difficult" to step away from Barrhead Travel.

She could not accept that his dismissal was predetermined but said that the offer of alternative employment was "unreasonable" because it omitted continuity of service.

And she said there was a "flaw" in the appeal procedure in which an executive had "accepted at face value" what Mr Chacko had told him about Mr Munro being disruptive and allowed this to influence his decision.

But she felt that the reason for Mr Munro not accepting the new contract was he had lost trust in Mr Chacko and others in the organisation.

And she believed that if a fair procedure had been followed, there was a 100% chance Mr Munro would still have been dismissed.

Barrhead Travel declined to comment.