The Queensland Industrial Relations Commission has ordered the retrospective reinstatement of sacked harness racing chief steward David Farquharson.
In a 28-page judgment handed down in Brisbane on Monday, the QIRC’s President Adrian Bloomfield ordered Farquharson be reinstated as of his sacking date of February 24, 2017.
It was further ordered that Farquharson be paid any money lost through the sacking and that his contract of employment be deemed to be continuous.
Farquharson was sacked by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission’s commissioner Ross Barnett after originally being stood down from his post in December 2016.
The QIRC hearing was told the dismissal followed allegations made about Farquharson’s behaviour in the third day of stewards inquiry in July 2016.
Those allegations were the basis of a Crime and Corruption Commission hearing which referred the matter back to Barnett.
After two show cause notices were issued to Farquharson by Barnett he was dismissed.
Farquaharson denied any dishonesty and wrong doing and took his case to the QIRC.
In his judgment Bloomfield said there was a precedent case which showed some employment could withstand friction and doubts and that trust and confidence were concepts of degree.
“While Mr Barnett asserts that he no longer has trust and confidence in Mr Farquharson that is because he believed the latter was guilty of misconduct by being deliberately untruthful,” President Bloomfield said.
“In coming to that conclusion, however, he closed his mind to any other possible reason for Mr Farquharson’s behaviour.
“Now that his decision has been reviewed and overturned by a Tribunal, I am confident that Mr Barnett will step back and accept that he might have made a mistake and perhaps he should have given Mr Farquharson the benefit of the doubt.”
President Bloomfield said Farquharson had made it plain that he wished to return to his former position.
“While my decision might be inconvenient and disappointing to Mr Barnett, I consider he is capable of re-establishing an appropriate and professional working relationship with Mr Farquharson,” he said.
“In any event, this is not a case where Mr Farquharson actually engaged in misconduct, He simply made a mistake and then failed to correct it. It was not serious misconduct and it was not a dismissible offence.”
Farquharson’s lawyer, Matt Tutt, said his client obviously welcomed the decision and was keen to return to work.
“The decision is not only a win for Mr Farquharson personally but the industry as a whole to have Mr Farquharson reinstated as Chief Steward,” Tutt said.
“Mr Farquharson is committed to, and has at all times, maintained a high standard of professionalism and integrity within the Industry for over 30 years.”
Barnett was unavailable for comment but a spokesman said he was aware of the decision and might comment at a later time.