Caretaker sacked after accidentally donating Tudor artefact worth £5m
Brian Wilson has been sacked for gross misconduct from his job at a 16th-century mansion after letting a car salesman walk away with the 460-year-old decorative piece
Image: Whitchurch Auctions/Solent)
A clumsy caretaker gave away a £5million antique because he thought it was rotten and destined for the bonfire.
Brian Wilson has been sacked from his job at a 16th-century mansion after letting a car salesman walk away with the 460-year-old decorative piece bearing the royal coat of arms of Queen Elizabeth I.
He thought the oak overmantel was riddled with woodworm and dry rot and told a court he thought giving it away would save him from burning it.
But despite his blunder, he still won his case for unfair dismissal.
The hearing heard Mr Wilson give the antiquity to Andrew Potter, who he said had turned up at Seighford Hall in Stafford and asked to search the ‘pile of fire’.
The Grade II listed building has been derelict for almost two decades and was bought last year by First Blue Leisure, who plan to turn it into a hotel.
Stafford/Solent Borough Council)
The auctioneers decided that the trumeau was in “excellent condition for its more than 400 years” with “minimal damage”.
In October 2020, Chief Executive Thomas Butler invited Mr. Wilson to a meeting regarding the sale of fireplaces, a tractor and the “handing over of a historical artifact” without permission.
Mr Wilson was not present and said he had not received any letters about this as he had moved away.
Although he had no opinion from Mr. Wilson, Mr. Thomas fired him for gross misconduct.
Labor judge Kate Hindmarch ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed because he had not been informed of the decision to dismiss him.
She awarded him £4,065.82 in unlawful pay deduction and untaken paid leave.
But she concluded: “I found [Mr Wilson’s] actions were without permission and that he was not credible in his explanations. His behavior was blameworthy and I find the base reward should be nil.