Drink driving officer has cost fire service almost £100,000, says Bucks and Milton Keynes Fire Authority

Paul Holland has cost the Bucks & MK Fire Authority 100,000
Paul Holland has cost the Bucks & MK Fire Authority 100,000

A top fire officer who crashed his car into a ditch after drink driving has cost Bucks Fire Authority almost £100,000 after unsuccessfully claiming unfair dismissal.

Paul Holland lost his £73,000 a year job in 2017, when he was was convicted by police for driving after drinking five pints of beer.

Bucks Fire and Rescue Service

Bucks Fire and Rescue Service

As head of the service's projects and transformation team, he was leading the new multi-million pound plan to build a blue light hub in Milton Keynes.

In the past he had been responsible for training firefighters all across MK and Bucks.

After losing his job, Mr Holland launched an employment tribunal claim against Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority, claiming he had been unfairly dismissed and “unfairly discriminated against”.

Initially he sought to be reinstated as Area Commander as well as to be given compensation totalling around £250,000.

Paul Holland

Paul Holland

Last month the judge found fire bosses had acted correctly and properly in dismissing him.

But even though Mr Holland lost, the authority has now been left £98,155.14 out of pocket – the cost of defending the claim against them. This is the cost of a new fire engine.

Authority chairman Councillor Lesley Clarke said this week: “Not defending it, which we estimate would have cost at least £250,000 and possibly considerably more, would have caused immeasurable damage to the confidence that the public, our staff and blue-light partners have in us.”

She added: “I believe it was a regrettable event for all concerned.”

At the time of his dismissal Mr Holland was on the force’s ‘gold rota’, which meant he could be called out to unexpectedly drive to attend major incidents.

The drink driving took place on the evening of May 5, 2016. He had been out with two colleagues and drank five pints, the tribunal heard.

Although a colleague had called him a taxi, Mr Holland instead chose to drive the 7.5-mile journey home. He then lost control of his car and after a collision he banged his head and leg, said the judge's report.

Mr Holland had 20 years of service,and 23 years of driving with no points, at the time of his dismissal.

During the appeals process Mr Holland’s solicitor said his client had been suffering from previously undiagnosed post traumatic stress disorder since 2010, following a fire in which two people had died.