Legal Business Blogs

Simmons defends Barclays on former executive’s employment dispute

Simmons & Simmons has been gifted with a high-profile instruction defending Barclays as it faces an unfair dismissal dispute taken by a former top executive, who alleges he was sacked after investigators at the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) passed the bank a transcript of his interview with them.

Richard Boath, who until earlier this year was Barclays’ chairman of financial services, argued at a London employment tribunal yesterday (23 November) that he lost his job as a direct result of information he told the SFO which has a criminal investigation open against the bank.

The long-running investigation, which began in 2012, is scrutinising a £7.3bn emergency cash call made by Barclays at the height of the financial crisis when it avoided a taxpayer bailout by raising the money from investors in the Middle East.

Details about the claim made by Boath are scarce however he is reported to be making the case under whistleblower protection laws, according to a report in the Guardian. Reports suggest the potential damages is unlimited, unlike the £78,000 cap that applies to tribunals.

Barclays is represented by Simmons & Simmons partner Andrea Finn and Fountain Court Chambers heavyweight Richard Lissack QC and Blackstone Chambers’ star Paul Golding QC. Fountain Court junior barrister Eleanor Davison is also on the case.

Boath, who is currently a suspect in the SFO investigation, was interviewed under caution. For his employment tribunal claim, he is suing for lost pay and is represented by Howard Kennedy consultant Carolyn Brown, alongside Littleton Chambers’ duo Jonathan Cohen QC and Georgina Leadbetter.

The SFO has instructed QEB Hollis Whiteman’s Edward Brown QC, and 3 Verulam Buildings’ duo Matthew Parker and Theodore van Sante.

Barclays previously turned to Simmons for advice during a Financial Conduct Authority inquiry into deals for wealthy clients, which resulted in a £72m fine for the bank last November.

The FCA said Barclays ‘went to unacceptable lengths to accommodate’ a number of ‘ultra-high net worth clients’ in a £1.9bn deal arranged and executed by the bank during 2011 and 2012. The £72m penalty was the largest fine ever imposed by the FCA and its predecessor the FSA for financial crime failings at the time.