Student Loans Company boss sacked more than £ 100,000 of missing equipment
A senior executive at the Student Loans Company has been sacked after more than £ 100,000 of equipment went missing due to negligence.
Ruth Porter did not perform proper checks on laptops and other assets for several years – despite warnings that the equipment was in danger.
Several laptops were stolen from SLC’s Darlington office in 2014, while other IT equipment was stolen from Glasgow headquarters in 2018.
A number of investigations and reports have highlighted issues with registering and tracking equipment, but despite this, Ms Porter, the government agency’s asset and configuration manager, has not acted.
Following her dismissal, she lodged an unfair dismissal complaint with a labor court, claiming that she had been named a “scapegoat” by SLC.
However, the court found that the organization had acted fairly in finding her guilty of serious misconduct.
In a judgment on the case, labor judge Shona MacLean said, “The respondent is a publicly funded organization.
“The loss of important assets purchased with public funds is a serious problem for her.”
The judge added: “The court considered that [SLC] had conducted a reasonable investigation and had reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant was aware that there were weaknesses in the asset management process; she had failed to develop asset management processes and procedures or to report the problem to management. ”
The court heard that the missing equipment issue was first discovered in November 2014, when several laptops went missing from SLC’s Darlington office.
A report was made suggesting that annual stock checks should be carried out and Ms Porter agreed to it.
In October 2017, an external company was recruited at a “significant cost” to deepen the assessment of the problem and also highlighted discrepancies between the assets listed and those physically present in the company.
The lack of equipment tracking systems was again highlighted the following year, while SLC also became aware of the alleged theft of several laptops at the Glasgow office in September of the same year.
The court heard that Ms Porter, who was based in the Glasgow office, had failed to take action despite all the warnings.
An investigation into the flight from Glasgow found that the organization’s asset management was inadequate and ‘may have contributed to the thefts’
There were also issues in ensuring that equipment was returned when personnel left SLC.
The investigation covered one department over a twelve month period and found that items worth over £ 100,000 were unrecorded.
Ms Porter attempted to argue that a lack of resources was preventing her from undertaking the task of checking the equipment, but the court found that she had not raised these concerns with senior officials.
It is understood that another staff member was terminated by SLC in connection with the flight to Glasgow.
A spokesperson for the Student Loans Company said: “Following the historic events mentioned in this case, the Government Internal Audit Agency (GIAA) has been asked to carry out a thorough investigation and review of the controls. of SLC’s IT assets.
“As a result of this investigation, SLC implemented rigorous new processes and procedures to review the management and distribution of all IT equipment to staff.
“To ensure continued compliance, these processes and procedures are regularly subject to internal audit.”
Attorney David Hutchison, attorneys for Dallas McMillan, who represented Ms Porter, said she was “bitterly disappointed” with the decision.
He added: “She feels however confirmed that at no point in the whole process was there any suggestion that she was involved in the theft of items, or that she personally won in any way. it would be.
“The claimant has worked with the organization since 1996 with a blank file and was highly rated in reviews from supervisors.
“The Applicant’s dismissal was the result of procedural and system failures within the organization.”