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M&S whistleblower worked in IT

A senior IT worker at Marks & Spencer faces the sack this week for blowing the whistle on the retailer's plans to cut redundancy pay to 70,000 workers.

M&S internal investigators have traced the employee, who had sent details of the plan to a newspaper, by analysing e-mail traffic. The firm suspended the worker, who has been with Marks & Spencer for 25 years, on 21 August pending a disciplinary hearing and possible sacking.

A spokesman for the GMB union, which represented the worker at yesterday's internal disciplinary hearing, said he could "confirm that the employee worked in the IT department".

The union expects Marks & Spencer to sack the employee, but warned that the retailer had prejudged the issue by removing the worker from the firm's internal e-mail system before the hearing.

The details of the plan to cut redundancy pay by 25% were contained in a memo sent to Marks & Spencer's 70,000 workers.

Richard Baty, a partner in the employment department at law firm Travers Smith said it was common practice for employers to suspend employees on full pay and to remove access such as e-mail in advance of a disciplinary hearing.

Baty said if the employee had leaked the information after all the other staff knew the details, sacking the person would seem "awfully harsh". He said regardless of the legal issues, M&S would be "mindful of potential adverse publicity" relating to the case.

The GMB said the case raised the interesting question of who owns the terms and conditions of employment. He said the union would take the case to the Employment Tribunal if Marks & Spencer sacked the worker.

An Marks & Spencer spokesman declined to comment, saying the matter was internal.

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