An outspoken and big spending school principal who was accused of serious financial mismanagement and nepotism is waiting for the decision of his unlawful dismissal application lodged in the Federal Court last year.
Paul Thomson was sacked by Kimberley College in June, along with his wife Jennifer, and his daughter Amy Ferguson and her husband Kevin Ferguson.
While Thomson is fighting a general protections claim involving dismissal which is being determined by the Federal Court, his other family members lodged unfair dismissal applications in the Fair Work Commission which were heard in March.
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Principal ‘wrongfully used’ school money
The Courier-Mail newspaper first revealed serious concerns about the school’s finances and allegations of nepotism.
An independent audit commissioned by the school’s board revealed Thomson had given himself $800,000 in “back pay” and spent $700,000 of school money on overseas trips, including first class tickets to Spain and the UK, including a first class seat for his four year-old grandson.
There was more questionable spending of school money uncovered by the audit, including a $390,000 loan to his daughter.
The report concluded that Thomson “abused his position” and “wrongfully used” school money for personal use.
Spending company money without authorisation is fraud
As Thomson and his family members wait the outcome of their unlawful and unfair dismissal applications, Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Fair Work Claims, warned spending your employer’s finances without authorisation will almost certainly get you fired.
“An employee must never use company funds, including credit cards, without proper authorisation, otherwise they could be accused of theft or fraud or both – either way, it is serious misconduct and reason for instant dismissal,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how the Federal Court rules on this case, and whether it believes it was appropriate for a principal to use school money to fly first class around the world, and to give loans to his family members.
“In addition, it will be interesting to see whether the Fair Work Commission rules that it was fair for his other family members to be sacked for the alleged sins of the father.”
No date has been set for the decision to be handed down by the Fair Work Commission.
Main picture: The Courier-Mail.
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