Published: 12:01, 14 June 2015
The boss of a Canterbury garage which lost an employment tribunal following claims it overcharged customers has told how the case exposed him to vandalism and threats of violence.
Dave Sutton found graffiti on his van and was told he would be beaten up after the conclusion of the case involving Volksline of Broad Oak Road in December last year.
But despite suffering a dramatic fall in trade, the 71-year-old is vowing to keep the business he has spent 37 years building afloat.
Mr Sutton said: “The stress, the worry, the feelings of sickness this has caused you would not believe, but all the time I’m still here, we will keep going.
"This has ruined us with a drop in the amount of work. We’ve had firms with which we used to have accounts suddenly demand cash and we’ve had two of our best people leave because of the stigma of working for us.
"The stress, the worry, the feelings of sickness this has caused you would not believe..." - Dave Sutton
“But we’ve also had loads of people sticking by us and supporting us because they know we are an honest and reputable firm.”
Volksline’s troubles began when mechanic Jason Phur, 39, won a case for unfair dismissal after claiming the garage he worked for was overcharging customers for unnecessary work.
He was awarded £46,000 following an employment tribunal in Ashford. Mr Phur told a three-man panel he had been dismissed just days after claiming the garage was hitting customers with hefty bills for work that was not needed or even carried out.
But bosses claimed he had been sacked for his sub-standard work – despite awarding him a pay rise for his good performance just two months before.
A three-man employment tribunal agreed with Mr Phur’s case, describing Volksline director Nick Sutton’s reasons for starting disciplinary proceedings as implausible and inconsistent.
Mr Sutton, who is Nick’s father, later found someone had daubed a sexual swearword on his van and branded him a crook.
Another time, a man from Wales called him and threatened to beat him up.
“We’re no crooks,” Mr Sutton said.
“We are going to fight this because this ruling was wrong.”
Mr Sutton has involved MP Julian Brazier and is speaking to lawyers about getting redress.