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British Airways manager ran ticket scam

British Airways manager ran ticket scam

But second staff member now pursues unfair dismissal claim

» Airlines - UK | Thursday, July 21, 2011 • Air News Times
A former British Airways employee cleared of criminal involvement in a £235,000 ticket scam is now pursuing an unfair dismissal claim against the airline.

During Allan Russell’s current employment tribunal case, details have emerged of how his ex-BA colleague, Terminal Five manager Mark Smith, was jailed for fraud.

Smith bought cheap airline tickets in advance and had them changed on BA’s system to expensive last-minute fares prior to flights, before selling them on for profit through a fake travel agency.

Russell admitted accepting free concert tickets from Smith for his part in amending the travel bookings on his computer, the tribunal heard.

But he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by the same jury that convicted Smith last August, and is now suing BA for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and public interest disclosure.

Russell claimed that he not broken any rules and had actually whistleblown on the scam, so was wrongly sacked.

“He alleged that the changes he made were in BA’s best interest and that it was common practice for employees to make changes to reservations at the request of their colleagues,” said Abid Mahey, head of customer services in Terminals Three and Five, who dismissed Russell.

“He also alleged that he did not require authorisation for such changes,” Mahey told the Reading tribunal, according to The Telegraph. “But the types of changes he was making to bookings did not fall within his remit. He also upgraded bookings without charging an upgrade fare.”

Mahey told the hearing that BA had suffered a financial loss of £235,988 as a result of the fraudulent misuse of the airline’s ticketing system.

The panel heard that the air fare racket was discovered during a security audit, when managers found anomalies in fare categories and hundreds of bookings made with Smith’s credit card and email address.

Russell decided to risk dismissal by refusing BA’s initial request of unpaid suspension when the fraud accusations came to light, saying it was in the public interest that details of his case be known.

PM
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