It's an ill wind

Posted: 12th July 2012

A case of disharmony in the wind section of the Welsh National Opera (WNO) reached the Court of Appeal, which considered the case of a dismissed veteran oboist.Wind section
Murray 'Sandy' Johnston was dismissed in September 2008 'by reason of capability' after 34 years as principal oboist of the WNO.
Mr Johnston claimed that his career with the WNO began to wane following a personality clash with the then musical director, Carlo Rizzi, resulting in his eventual dismissal.
He accused Mr Rizzi of overbearing behaviour towards him, but those allegations were rejected by an Employment Tribunal (ET) in Cardiff in October 2010, which held that his dismissal was fair.
That decision was overturned on appeal by the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which last year ruled in Mr Johnston's favour and remitted the case for a full re-hearing by the ET.
However, the WNO appealed to the Court of Appeal, arguing that it had done all that was required of it to accommodate Mr Johnston in the period before his dismissal.
Those efforts included offering him paid leave to address concerns about his performance and auditions to test his skills. However, he was ultimately dismissed because he was not able to perform to the required standard on a consistent basis 'when playing in ensemble situations'.
Mr Johnston contended, on the other hand, that there had been been a 'pre-determined effort to remove him from his role after 34 years.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the WNO’s appeal and Mr Johnston's case will now return to the ET for re-hearing.