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Sacked Argento worker claimed unfair dismissal in previous Belfast job

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Richard Ferguson at the tribunal in Belfast

Richard Ferguson at the tribunal in Belfast

Peter Boyle

Peter Boyle

Evidence: Paddy McGurgan

Evidence: Paddy McGurgan

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Richard Ferguson at the tribunal in Belfast

An employment tribunal involving Argento jewellery boss Peter Boyle has heard the claimant had previously taken unfair dismissal action after being fired by another employer.

Richard Ferguson has taken a case against the Argento chief alleging unfair dismissal.

Mr Ferguson claims he was fired by Mr Boyle after refusing to padlock a gate at Knockbracken reservoir, which he claims would have prevented make-up artist Paddy McGurgan from accessing his home on the site.

Mr Boyle insists he dismissed Mr Ferguson for misconduct.

On the final day of the tribunal, being heard at Killymeal House in Belfast, evidence was brought forward that Mr Ferguson had previously brought a case against Simon Devlin, managing director of Full Circle Management Solutions, a business management consultancy based in Belfast.

Tim Warnock, representing Argento, told the hearing Mr Devlin had got in touch with Mr Boyle after reading a report on the tribunal in the Belfast Telegraph.

He said: "He indicated to the respondent (Mr Boyle) that Full Circle had employed the claimant (Mr Ferguson) between September 24, 2012, and January 23, 2013. The claimant had been dismissed during his probationary period for reasons of performance and attitude concerns.

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"The claimant subsequently put forward a claim of unfair dismissal on the basis of making protected disclosures and the company, Mr Devlin and his wife put forward High Court proceedings against the claimant for defamation and injunctive relief."

Mr Warnock said the tribunal had been settled between the parties but that the High Court had made a series of orders and injunctions against Mr Ferguson.

He said: "The injunctive relief restrained Mr Ferguson from harassing employees of the company Full Circle Management Solutions Ltd and restrained him from intimidating or attempting to intimidate the bringers of that action."

Mr Warnock added: "My application is to put into evidence copies of those orders made by the High Court on the basis that they go towards the credibility of the claimant in this case and also towards the veracity of the respondent's claims in relation to the claimant's inappropriate behaviour."

Mr Ferguson was employed as project and business development manager at Argento Contemporary Jewellery on August 8, 2016, when he was assigned four projects.

One of the projects involved Knockbracken reservoir, which Mr Boyle is planning to turn into a watersports centre.

The hearing also heard evidence from Mr McGurgan, who was involved in a dispute with Mr Boyle over right of way to his property at Knockbracken reservoir.

Representing himself, Mr Ferguson questioned Mr McGurgan on a conversation he had with Argento estate manager James Loughrey in which he is alleged to have said he did not appreciate "being exposed" to Mr Ferguson in relation to the dispute about the right of way at Knockbracken reservoir.

Mr McGurgan said: "I don't know if that was my exact words. What prompted me to have concerns was the fact you (Mr Ferguson) decided to initiate contact with me over the issue, which was to go through a friend as opposed to dealing with me directly.

"I did not appreciate personal circumstances being discussed with anyone bar myself.

"The second incident was when you visited me at work and we had not arranged anything and unfortunately I had a photo shoot which I was then detained from.

"For me, professionalism is arranging something prior to coming unannounced, and for those reasons I probably said something in and around that statement."

When questioned by Mr Ferguson on what his relationship with Mr Boyle was like during the right of way dispute, he said: "It was a heated situation in the sense that I felt the need to go and speak to a solicitor to act on my behalf to ensure that my right of way was not infringed upon.

"In terms of the relationship (with Mr Boyle) it was really a relationship through solicitors, there was very little direct contact between either of us."

Employment Judge Julie Knight said she would give her decision at a later date.


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