Informatica UKI veep was rightfully sacked over Highways England $5k golf jolly, says tribunal

Underling took customer on bucket list trip - and VP signed it off without checking

Informatica's former UK & Ireland vice president was correctly sacked after letting a salesman take Highways England's executive IT director on a $5,000 golfing jaunt, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has ruled.

Not only did Derek Thompson breach Informatica's anti-corruption policies but he also warned underlings to "be discreet" about the jolly – and told HR investigators "Why does anyone do any customer entertainment?" when asked how playing golf benefited the business.

Thompson lost his appeal against a judge's earlier ruling [PDF] that his October 2017 sacking was reasonable, with the Employment Appeal Tribunal publishing its judgment [PDF] last week.

Highways England's executive IT director Tony Malone was invited to speak at an Informatica conference in 2017. Highways England had signed a $4.8m contract with the US software development firm the previous year. Keen to impress the customer, Informatica salesman Colin Grey suggested he accompany Malone to California's Pebble Beach Golf Club so Malone could tick it off his "bucket list".

Thompson cleared the jolly with senior EMEA veep Steve Murphy – but didn't check back in with Murphy when the likely cost of the overnight stay became clear before the conference, reasoning that the "cat was out of the bag" and the company couldn't retract its invite to the Highways England manager.

Informatica spent $5,400 on a one-night stay for Malone at the club, including dinner, green fees and a private hotel transfer on top of costing around $2,000, with Employment Judge Vowles noting in his 2020 ruling: "The Pebble Beach Golf Club is a very expensive venue, and widely known to be so, being one of the top golf clubs in the US."

Internal auditors at Informatica immediately flagged up the transaction and bosses hauled Thompson in for various grillings that culminated in a disciplinary hearing where he was sacked, in October 2017.

Informatica's anti-bribery policy, which Thompson had signed to indicate he had read, mentioned both the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK's Bribery Act 2010. Both laws prohibit trying to bribe or influence government personnel.

Mr Justice Cavanagh, giving the Employment Appeal Tribunal's judgment, ruled that Thompson had broken the US section of the policy. Malone was not American and therefore was a foreign official for the purposes of the US-headquartered company – regardless of Thompson being a Briton employed in Britain for a British subsidiary and entertaining a British government official. He didn't even go on the golf trip himself.

Thompson's main four grounds of appeal were all dismissed by Mr Justice Cavanagh. They included that Employment Judge Vowles, who originally ruled against Thompson, had made a finding of gross misconduct that was "perverse"; that the judge had got it wrong when he found Thompson had "wilful disregard" for Informatica's anti-corruption policy; that it was an error in law to reject the principle that Thompson should have been told the case he had to meet when facing disciplinary proceedings that could result in dismissal; and, finally, that the ruling had misinterpreted the Anti-Corruption Policy.

Thompson also contended that the judge hadn't been clear enough explaining his initial ruling.

"Expenditure could be a 'prohibited payment' even if there was no intention to provide a bribe or corrupt payment," concluded Mr Justice Cavanagh. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021