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The Person Responsible For The Unlawful Dismissal Of Grah Whatmough Is Forbici, And He Thus Proved His Loyalty To The Politicians Who Appointed Him

Many of you may still remember how cheerful Goran Forbici, the Chairman of the Council of RTV Slovenia, was last August when he said that Andrej Grah Whatmough had been dismissed from his position as acting Director-General of the national media outlet, Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS). But Forbici is probably laughing a little less nowadays, as he has likely already heard about the decision of the Labour and Social Court in Ljubljana, which says that the dismissal of Grah Whatmough from his previous position was unlawful and that the employment relationship under the employment contract was terminated illegally.

Andrej Grah Whatmough, former acting Director-General of RTV Slovenia, told the media outlet Planet TV that he was very satisfied with the partial ruling. “I expect that RTV Slovenia will probably appeal. After the appeals have been exhausted, we will continue the process, and in that process, we will see what happens with the other claims,” he added.

As is known, the court has not yet ruled on all the points of the lawsuit, but only on two of them – “the competence of the Council of RTV Slovenia to dismiss Grah Whatmough and the manner in which the reasons for his dismissal were served.” They ruled in favour of the public broadcaster on the first point and in favour of Grah Whatmough on the second. The court ruled that way on the basis of the incorrect way in which the reasons for Grah Whatmough’s dismissal and the call for a reply were served. Namely, the public broadcaster attempted to hand the decision to him during his annual leave, which had been approved in advance, and with the help of a private detective.

“The key thing, given the course of these legal proceedings, was that the leave was approved, that the RTV Slovenia Council knew about the leave, that they nevertheless sought me out at my home address with a detective, that they did not cancel the leave, which could have all been done. And the court points all this out and finds that this method of service is unusual. And that is a term they used,” Grah Whatmough pointed out.

Peter Gregorčič, former Chairman of the Programme Council of RTV Slovenia, told the same media outlet that “the sole culprit for this error is the chairman of the RTVS Council, Goran Forbici, who is also responsible for its legality.” In its response to the verdict, the Council of RTV Slovenia said: “RTV Slovenia believes that the service procedures were carried out in accordance with the applicable legislation and internal rules, and that the dismissal of the former acting Director-General and the termination of his employment contract were justified, and will therefore consider the possibility of lodging an appeal against the partial verdict.”

The court concluded that because Grah Whatmough had not been given the opportunity to defend himself before his dismissal, there had been a procedural irregularity. “This is a very important procedural step in the Court’s view, and the decision to dismiss, i.e. the dismissal decision, may have been incorrect and therefore unlawful,” the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) was quoted as saying.

Illegality committed out of revanchism

When asked why the public institution had decided on such an unusual way of serving the termination notice in the first place, Gregorčič said that he himself, according to the information he has, believes that it was because “they were fully aware that the grounds on which they were dismissing the Director-General were not justified.” That it was in the interest of the public institution that Grah Whatmough was unable to respond is also what Grah Whatmough believes to be true.

At the time of the dismissal of the then-acting Director-General of RTV Slovenia, many people wondered why the new authorities at RTV had gone to such lengths to terminate his contract when his mandate would have expired in two weeks anyway, without the dismissal of the Council of the institution. “All these actions give the impression that the RTV Slovenia Council and the new management of RTV Slovenia, in this case, wanted to carry out revanchism, to show that they are loyal to the politicians who set them up, and thus to literally humiliate Grah Whatmough. Therefore, in reality, they committed an illegality out of revanchism. I think that this is not only unacceptable, it is also completely reprehensible from a human point of view,” Gregorčič believes.

“I, above all, hope that this is the first step towards stabilising this institution,” was Forbic’s statement at the time, revealing how excited he was when the appointment of Zvezdan Martič came about. That there will be no sign of stabilisation became crystal clear when even the Prime Minister himself said on the show Odmevi (Echoes): “If anyone knows it, you know. We, as well as you at RTV have made a pledge together to cleanse it of Janšaism.”

We mentioned earlier that the Labour and Social Court has, so far, given a partial judgment. According to Planet TV, if it is upheld on appeal, the court will decide on the damages claimed, which could amount to around 140 thousand euros.

Ž. N.

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