THE SRU has not responded to requests for clarification on their position regarding the employment tribunal judgement issued last month against Dr John Halliday, who has since become a co-opted member of the governing body’s Council and been handed a paid sinecure as a representative on Rugby Europe.
Judge Ian McFatridge found on 30th July that Halliday, who is rector of the High School of Dundee, was involved in a senior teacher being constructively dismissed from his job, with the claimant – Daniel Goodey, who had been principal teacher of religious and moral studies – being awarded £60,745 to be paid by the school. During the hearing, Halliday was accused of overseeing a campaign of “bullying, intimidation and harassment”.
Despite this, Halliday – previously Schools Rep on the Council – has been made Scottish Rugby’s Representative on Rugby Europe [the administrative body for rugby union on the continent]. The SRU will pay Halliday £7,000 for this role, which also required that he be co-opted back onto the SRU Council. His appointment was announced at last Saturday’s AGM.
A source close to the SRU, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times newspaper: “This sends out a dreadful message. It suggests we are still not taking the issue of bullying seriously. Lessons were meant to have been learnt after the Keith Russell case, but this raises serious doubts about that.”
The SRU have a chequered history in this area. Last summer, they lost an unfair dismissal case brought by former Director of Domestic Rugby Keith Russell, with Judge Joseph D’Inverno issuing a withering assessment of the conduct of Chief Executive Mark Dodson and General Counsel Robert Howat.
In a joint statement issued by the SRU Board and SRU Council a week after the Russell judgement became public stated that: “The values of our sport underpin our actions and culture as an organisation. Council and Board share this commitment to these values.”
An internal review into the issue was conducted by Lesley Thomson QC, an independent non-executive director of the SRU, although very few details of her findings were ever made public.
The High School of Dundee is understood to be considering appealing against the verdict. “I will always accept that there is scope for improvement but there is nothing to substantiate the negative claims about the culture of our school,” wrote Halliday in a letter to parents.