Employers should be careful when using what could amount to private material during a disciplinary process.

In particular:

• Don't assume that mixed professional and personal material is not covered by one's right to privacy.

• Consider whether employees could have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances.

• Where material is passed to an employer by the police, it would seem that the balance tips towards it being outside the right to privacy, but this should not be assumed in all cases.

Mr Garamukanwa broke up with a colleague, after which he stalked and harassed his former partner, with some emails sent to colleagues making allegations about them. He was arrested but not charged by police.

His employer, the NHS, conducted a disciplinary procedure, using photos and emails located by police to terminate his employment.

Mr Garamukanwa brought claims for unfair dismissal, claiming the health trust had breached his right to privacy under the European Convention of Human Rights. These were rejected by the Employment Tribunal.

Following a review, and despite the materials covering both personal and workplace issues, the European Court rejected Mr Garamukanwa's overall argument on the basis that he could have no reasonable expectation of privacy because:

• He had been aware for nearly a year that his former partner had raised concerns with the employer about his conduct.

• He could not reasonably have expected that any materials linked to the allegations would remain private.

• He had not sought to challenge the use of this material during the internal disciplinary proceedings.

• He had voluntarily provided the trust with other private communications

His application was therefore dismissed.

  • Michael Delaney is a partner in the employment law team at award-winning law firm VWV, which has offices in Clarendon Road, Watford