A manager who worked for the Co-op was sacked after exposing the illegal sale of prescription drugs in scenes reminiscent of the escapades of Arthur Daley and Del Boy Trotter,’ referring to characters in Minder and Only Fools And Horses a Tribunal in Stoke-on-Trent has said.
The Co-op held the sale in a car park at its distribution centre in Stoke-on-Trent after telling its 750 pharmacy branches to return goods totalling £1.7 million that were unsold or close to expiry date.
Prescription-only drugs turned up later on a stall in a street market.
The events were exposed at an employment tribunal into the sacking of a manager, Stuart Baddeley, who alerted his bosses after he went to the sale in July 2010, and removed prescription-only drugs because he feared it would be illegal to sell them.
He was then sacked after medicines were found months later in a market in Winsford, Cheshire, who claimed he sold them to a trader and he was arrested on suspicion of the theft.
The tribunal in Stoke-on-Trent ruled there was no evidence against him after police cleared him of any wrongdoing.
The tribunal found he had been ‘stitched up’ by Co-op bosses angered that he had raised a series of concerns, including that the car park sale was illegal.
It ruled that Mr Baddeley, 59, should have been protected by ‘whistleblower’ laws after he raised previous concerns about the Co-op’s operations in China. He now stands to win six-figure damages.
Under the Medicines Act 1968, over-the-counter and prescription-only medicines cannot be sold at unrestricted open-air markets. Those convicted face up to two years in prison or unlimited fines.