I have a query regarding the anonymity of complainants/witnesses, particularly relating to disciplinary cases.

The original question related to two staff members complaining separately about a work colleague but neither of them wanted to be identified. In summary the answer outlined that the employer should investigate the reasons for the anonymity request and balance the complainant’s right of confidentiality with the accused right to a fair hearing.

The answer provided was very helpful, although it was silent on the issue of the Data Protection Act and personal data. Statements given by complainants or witnesses will contain information about the behaviour or actions of another employee and I wondered if that employee has particular rights under DPA (e.g. subject access) to see what has been written about him/her, or does the data belong to the witness/complainant or is there a balance to be considered?

I appreciate that all material may be required to be made available at Tribunal, but I am thinking here more of the internal disciplinary process.

Posted in : First Tuesday Q&A NI on 2 July 2013
Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

Ideally all witness statements and other documents to be relied on should be made available to the employee before a disciplinary hearing. This helps to give the employee a full picture of the nature of the allegations and the case they have to meet.

Obviously, if the employer has given a promise of anonymity to any witnesses, steps will have to be taken to amend the witness statements for this purpose, such as editing the statement to protect witness identity, for example, by removing their name and any other information that may identify them.

Also, as raised in this question, the employer

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Back to Q&A's This article is correct at 02/09/2015
Disclaimer:

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Emma-Jane Flannery
Arthur Cox

The main content of this article was provided by Emma-Jane Flannery. Contact telephone number is 028 9023 0007 or email Emma-Jane.Flannery@arthurcox.com

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