A Brexiteer firefighter has won an £8,300 payout after a Remain backing union launched a “witch hunt” to get rid of him. Paul Embery, who now presents for GB News, was suspended for allegedly criticising the Remain supporting Fire Brigades Union (FBU) for its position on Brexit. Mr Embery argued his sacking was politically motivated.
An employment tribunal found “right from the start” of an investigation carried out by the FBU’s Vice President there “there was an agenda” to have Mr Embery removed.
The tribunal’s members also reported that part of the union’s probe into Mr Embery “looked like no more than a witch hunt, a fishing exercise in the hope of finding something else which may add some weight to an investigation to support disciplinary action”.
At the hearing in Norwich, tribunal members were told Mr Embery was employed by the London Fire Brigade on November 24, 1997, and was elected as a Regional Official for the FBU in 2008.
The tribunal heard Mr Embery had been outspoken about Brexit for many years and his employers knew he spoke about the issue at events.
Three months after the 2016 Brexit referendum, Mr Embery emailed FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack to let him know he was going to speak at the Labour Party Conference on “Why Brexit must mean Brexit”.
The hearing was told Mr Wrack thanked Mr Embery for letting him know and said he looked forward to seeing him at the conference.
FBU President Ian Murray called Mr Embery and told him to make it clear he was not representing the union at the conference, which he did.
The hearing was told “feelings were running high” between Mr Wrack and Mr Embery in January 2019 with the pair disagreeing over Brexit.
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Not long after, Mr Embery was invited to speak at the Leave Means Leave rally in Parliament Square.
Mr Murray advised him against doing so because it might breach a policy which banned FBU officials campaigning jointly with political opponents during the referendum.
However, Mr Embery believed since the referendum had ended, the policy did not apply and so he spoke at the event anyway.
At the rally, he called for the UK to move on after the Brexit vote and to pursue a “No Deal” Brexit if it came down to it.
Mr Embery was suspended by the union and, after an investigation, was banned from holding office for two years.
The tribunal, which was chaired by Employment Judge Robin Postle, ruled that amounted to unfair dismissal as the policy Mr Embery allegedly breached could no longer be in force three years after the referendum.
In the tribunal’s Reserved Judgement, the judge said: “To suggest the claimant’s conduct was in some way prejudicial to the trade union and would have amounted to gross misconduct is difficult to understand on the facts and clearly does not fall within the band of a reasonable response of a reasonable employer and therefore the claimant’s dismissal was unfair.”
Mr Embery, in a statement published by MailOnline, said: “While I am glad that, after two years, justice has finally been served, I take no pleasure in the outcome.
“It was an honour to serve as an FBU official for 20 years, and I remain to this day a proud member of the union. The FBU does brilliant things for its members, day in, day out.
“I fully intend to continue supporting the union’s campaigns and activities into the future, defending the fire and rescue service against the threat of ever-deeper cuts, and fighting for decent pay and conditions for firefighters.”
The FBU has been approached for comment.