When professional boxer Gary Murray suffered a devastating brain injury in the ring, his family feared the worst.

The welterweight was placed in an induced coma due to bleeding on the brain and spent weeks in hospital with wife Kelly and his family at his side.

After receiving expert care and working through a long rehabilitation process, the 34-year-old began to recover, but was told that he would never box again.

Despite the setbacks, Mr Murray was determined to get his life back on track and returned to his job as an overhead linesman with Scottish Power Energy Networks, a role he had been doing alongside his boxing since 2013.

He performed his full duties without problem for more than a year, but things then began to go wrong.

He was asked to do increasing levels of overtime and it began to take its toll.

He raised concerns with his bosses before being signed off with work-related stress, and was eventually told by the company’s occupational health team that he could no longer do the job he had been doing for years. This was due to a requirement in his contract to do overtime as required by the business.

Mr Murray, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, resigned after being placed on a redeployment procedure which meant he had to take up a new role or face dismissal.

He went on to raise a case for disability discrimination and constructive dismissal at an employment tribunal, however he lost his case.

The employment judge found that Scottish Power was “entitled to seek to operate its business as efficiently as possible while complying with all legal obligations incumbent on it”.

Mr Murray now intends to appeal the decision and told The Herald that the treatment he experienced at Scottish Power left him feeling suicidal.

He said: “After my brain injury, I accepted it pretty early on, I accepted that I couldn’t box again.

“I went to a brain injury rehab centre and that gave me a bit of perspective. I felt lucky that I had recovered, I was in a good place.

“I worked for a year without problem. Weirdly, it was actually one of the best years of our lives, but as the overtime ramped up it started to go wrong.

“Everyone thinks that I started to struggle because of the brain injury, but it wasn’t – I started to struggle because of work.

“Having that injury was nothing in comparison to what I went through with Scottish Power.”

For wife Kelly, it was difficult to watch as the boxer struggled to cope with what was happening.

“It was just devastating after he had come so far,” she said. “After everything he had been through, myself and his family were so proud that he was able to return to his work and do what he was doing before.

“It would have been easy just to not work, but he fought hard to get back to it and I think that’s the most sickening thing.”

HeraldScotland: Gary MurrayGary Murray

Mr Murray, who made his professional debut in 2014, was fighting Belfast’s Patrick Gallagher in Edinburgh in October 2017 when he suffered the head injury and received oxygen in the ring.

The fighter, who received messages of support from top figures in the sport including Ricky Burns and Anthony Joshua, still suffers from memory loss following the injury.

He returned to Scottish Power five months after the incident and was initially on lighter duties before returning to his full role repairing high-power electrical lines, working at height in transmission towers.

“When I first got back my boss was joking, saying ‘he’s better than he was’,” said Mr Murray. “I just got on with it and was doing everything I had done before.

“That went on for over a year with absolutely no problems. The problems only arose when I raised concerns about safety and overtime.”

NHS professionals met with Scottish Power in May 2019 to inform them about Mr Murray’s injury and explain the impact of him working excessive hours.

However, in July, after he left a site without working extra time, he received a text message from his line manager saying that it was “not fair on the rest of the guys that are putting in the graft”.

At that point he was signed off with stress as he felt “victimised” for refusing to work 12 hours.

He was referred to occupational health and was found to be “medically unfit” to return to his role.

Mr Murray said: “I was doing two hours overtime per day on top of my core hours, and sometimes weekends too, and I had no problem with that, I could manage that.

“It was just when those hours started to ramp up that I began to struggle.

“I was happy to do my bit, to meet them in the middle, but it seemed to be if I couldn’t do all the overtime they wanted me to, then I couldn’t do the job at all.”

Mr Murray raised a grievance with the energy firm and during the process was told by a senior manager: “I am not happy that you are saying you are working and have a disability.”

The tribunal said it was “troubled” by this comment, which it described as “unfortunate”.

Mrs Murray, who was at the grievance when the comment was made, said: “The tribunal described it as an ‘unfortunate comment’ but it’s more than that. To say that to someone with a brain injury, or anyone who is disabled, it’s discriminatory.

“Effectively what he was trying to say was that if you’ve got a disability you can’t work, that’s how I took it.”

However, the tribunal found that – despite some unfortunate comments on the part of Scottish Power – Mr Murray’s contract made it clear that overtime and standby duties were compulsory.

The majority of the tribunal’s panel, two out of three members, accepted Scottish Power’s position that “the inability of a team member to work the same hours as his colleagues was not practical to manage in operational terms”.

Mr Murray, who recently became a dad to son Conlan, has now lodged an appeal with the Employment Appeal Tribunal which will examine whether or not an error has been made in law.

“I’m not going to lie down to this,” he said. “This is not about the money, this is about justice, and I’m going to keep fighting for that justice.”

A spokesperson for SP Energy Networks said: “The Employment Tribunal dismissed Mr Murray’s claims of disability discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal and also rejected his request for reconsideration.

“We have not been notified of Mr Murray’s appeal; however, if this is the case, the matter is still subject to live litigation and we can’t comment further on this or individual employee matters.

“We take pride in being a diverse and inclusive company and a Disability Confident employer. And, as an operator of extensive electricity networks, the safety of our staff, contractors and the public is paramount.”