A LABOUR county councillor set to take her former employer to an employment tribunal later this month after being sacked amid allegations of bullying has reached an out-of-court settlement.
Durham County councillor Janice Docherty confirmed yesterday that she had “reached an agreement” with the Derwentside Council for Voluntary Services (DCVS), which sacked her as its £50,000-a-year chief executive a year ago following allegations of bullying.
She had earlier vowed to appeal to an industrial tribunal and was backed by the GMB union.
Mrs Docherty’s sacking for gross misconduct was the outcome of an investigation spanning almost a year into reports of her behaviour while in charge at the service.
The 52-year-old of Surtees Terrace in Craghead, Stanley, County Durham, was suspended on full pay while the investigation was ongoing.
But last February, company secretary Cliff Laws said Mrs Docherty – who had held the post for around five years – had been sacked.
She was represented by the GMB union during a series of disciplinary hearings but an internal appeal process against the sacking decision has failed.
Mrs Docherty, who represents the villages of Craghead and South Moor as a Labour councillor for Durham County Council, confirmed yesterday the tribunal – due to be heard in Newcastle this month – will no longer go ahead.
She said an “agreement had been reached” before the hearing took place. She added that she had been through “a difficult time” over the past two years.
Mrs Docherty declined to comment on the exact terms of the agreement, stressing they were “confidential”.
But she issued a statement agreed with her former employers yesterday which said: “Mrs Docherty has been pursuing an employment tribunal claim against the Derwentside CVS.
“This claim was due to be heard at the Newcastle Tribunal but the parties have agreed settlement terms to bring the dispute to a close.
“As part of the settlement, Mrs Docherty is withdrawing her claim, both parties have agreed not to proceed to tribunal and they have agreed to issue this joint statement ...
“Both Derwentside CVS and Mrs Docherty recognised the advantages of avoiding a lengthy tribunal hearing, and in this context, they have agreed to settle the claim, the terms of which remain confidential. Neither party will make any comments beyond the content of this statement.
“Both parties are pleased to be able to draw a line under these issues.”
The move has also rocked the local Labour party, with members split between those who support Mrs Docherty and those who disapprove of her alleged conduct.
DCVS secretary Mr Laws was unavailable for comment yesterday despite several attempts to contact him.
DCVS is a registered charity that provides support, advice and information to local voluntary organisations and community groups. It has bases in Stanley and Consett.