ACTIONS by directors who were running Bolton’s Egerton House Hotel in the lead up to the dismissal of the hotel’s manager were “an extraordinary departure from proper practice”, according to a judge.
Jan Hampton, who owned Egerton House until it was taken over by the Macdonald Hotels company in 2010, has taken her former employers to a tribunal for unfair dismissal.
As well as managing the hotel in Blackburn Road, which closed in January, Mrs Hampton was also a director and minority shareholder of the business which ran the hotel, Egerton House Hotel Bolton Ltd, with Macdonald Hotels the majority shareholder.
A tribunal at Alexandra House in Manchester yesterday heard that during the process of dismissing her from the business in 2012, citing poor performance, fellow directors James Davidson and Chris Wayne-Wills did not offer Mrs Hampton the chance to represent herself at a disciplinary hearing.
She was also not given the opportunity to appeal their decision.
Judge David Jones said: “There is a well-entrenched requirement in the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) code for some sort of process whereby an individual is able to make representations at a disciplinary hearing and can challenge at an appeal — it seems that didn’t happen.
“It didn’t comply with ACAS and it didn’t comply with your company’s code of conduct.
"How can you justify that?"
The tribunal also heard allegations that in October 2010, Macdonald Hotel’s chairman, Donald Macdonald, said his firm would take over Egerton House because he wanted to put Mrs Hampton “back in her box”.
This came after she refused his request to help to turnaround another Macdonald hotel, the Tickled Trout in Preston, it was claimed.
Responding, Mr Davidson said the allegations were false and the only reason the hotel became a Macdonald facility was because the bank would not offer Egerton House any further funding.
He added: “There was no pressure to agree. I saw Jan after she met Mr Macdonald and she gave me a kiss and said things had been sorted. It was amicable.”
Mr Davidson said Egerton House Hotel Bolton Ltd was currently awaiting confirmation as to whether planning permission will be granted to convert the former hotel into flats. He added: “We believe we have a 70 to 80 per cent chance of being granted material planning permission and should hear back in three to four months.”