A WHISTLEBLOWER who claimed she was dismissed from a North-East council after making allegations of shady property deals was unfairly dismissed, tribunal judges have ruled.

But while Karen Whitmore's claims of victimisation and unfair dismissal were upheld, judges said they did not find enough evidence that she lost her job as assistant director of organisation at Middlesbrough Council because she had blown the whistle, or that she was a victim of harassment.

The judgement also ruled that some of the evidence from current interim chief executive Tony Parkinson and former chief executive Mike Robinson was not "reliable in the wholesale way".

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Mrs Whitmore claimed during the tribunal in March that publicly-owned properties, collectively worth millions, were sold off for lower amounts to an associate of former Mayor Ray Mallon by Middlesbrough Council.

She had said the concerns she raised over the "flawed" tender deals led to her being bullied and threatened.

Mrs Whitmore was tasked by auditors Deloitte to look into the council's sale of Grade II-listed Acklam Hall for £1.2m after the Department for Communities and Local Government received a complaint about alleged improper dealing.

An independent audit last year raised questions into the processes around some of the sales, but found no wrongdoing by the council.

Mrs Whitmore, the council's monitoring officer, claimed she was pushed out of her job after refusing to cover up alleged failings over how the sales of assets were handled.

But in a written judgement yesterday the tribunal dismissed her complaints of "detriment on the grounds of having made protected disclosures".

They ruled: "The chronology and surrounding events do not support the link to the property disposal matters; these matters were entirely separate."

They said there was perhaps a "process issue" with the sale of Acklam Hall, but the reduction in price of the hall to sell it off was well documented.

Similarly the sale of the council's former Training and Development centre could have been stopped by Mrs Whitmore "had she detected illegality or impropriety herself in her monitoring officer role", the judgement said.

However the tribunal believed that claims by Kevin Parkes, the council's current director of growth and place, that Mrs Whitmore had once accused him of taking brown envelopes, were not correct.

They said: "The tribunal had some reservations about particular elements of Mr Parkes' evidence.

"At times the tribunal considered his manner of answering questions, which were not put in a combative style, surprisingly combative and hostile."

He had never brought up the brown envelopes comment with anyone ahead of the tribunal and judges added: "On balance, we do not consider it was said."

Mrs Whitmore's dismissal was ruled to be unfair in that Mr Parkinson's approach had "led the claimant to conclude he was set on her dismissal, come what may".

A spokesman for Middlesbrough Council said: "We will comment in due course once we have had chance to study the panel's findings in detail.

"We would like to clarify that Mrs Whitmore's discrimination claims were dropped in their entirety during the proceedings."