Council officer sacked after giving hygiene rating to restaurant he hadn’t inspected

A Wirral Council officer has been sacked after he gave a four star hygiene rating to a premises that he had not visited.

Mark Davies was employed by Wirral Borough Council from 6 April 2000 until his dismissal on 1 October 2020 on the grounds of gross misconduct.

For the last 11 years of his employment, Mr Davies was employed as an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) in Wirral Council’s Environmental Health Department.

As part of his role as an EHO, Mr Davies undertook food hygiene visits and inspections on food establishments.

On 21 February 2019, a restaurant, the Refreshment Rooms in Rock Ferry, contacted the Environmental Health Department for advice regarding a customer complaint.

During the call, the Refreshment Rooms mentioned that the Food Standard Agency’s hygiene ratings website was showing that Refreshment Rooms had a hygiene rating of 4 (Good), with an inspection date of 18 December 2018.

However, the representative of the restaurant said that they were not aware of any such inspection taking place.

According to council records, Mr Davies had undertaken an inspection of the Refreshment Rooms on 18 December 2018.

A handwritten ‘Summary of Food Hygiene Visit’ form, signed by the restaurant’s chef and Mr Davies (dated 18 December 2018) had been added to the council’s record keeping system.

The chef whose signature was on the ‘Summary of Food Hygiene Visit’ form had no recollection of an inspection on 18 December 2018 and was adamant it had not taken place.

The chef stated that he would clearly remember an EHO visit and said he had not actually been at work on Tuesday, 18 December 2018, as Tuesdays were his day off.

Mr Davies had falsified the chef’s signature in an effort to prove that he had undertaken the inspection. Further, it transpired that Mr Davies had falsified a hygiene report of a care home called Girtrell Court in Saughall Massie that had in fact closed and the property demolished on the date of the supposed inspection.

Mr Davies alleged that the council had unfairly dismissed him, but the decision was upheld by an employment tribunal on 24 May 2022, heard by Employment Judge McCarthy, who said, “I am therefore satisfied that this was a fair dismissal, and the claim of unfair dismissal does not succeed.”


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