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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

No criminal proceedings against P&O after mass sacking of almost 800 staff

It has been announced on Friday evening, 19 August, that criminal proceedings will not be launched against P&O Ferries in relation to the dismissal of 786 employees earlier this year.

The company which operates ferry services across the United Kingdom, including the Larne - Cairnryan route locally, received widespread condemnation and criticism after it announced on 17 March 2022 that it was to make up to 1,100 workforce redundancies - the same number of staff which the company furloughed under the country’s job retention scheme.

At the time, P&O made a controversial decision to employ the services of a private security firm to board the European Highlander vessel, docked in Larne, to forcibly remove staff who refused to disembark the ship.

Over the next days the company proceeded to recruit and replace it’s workforce on less lucrative contracts, leading to calls for an investigation into P&O’s actions.

The Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy asked the Insolvency Service to investigate whether any offences had been committed in relation to P&O Ferries’ dismissal of 786 employees on 17 March 2022.

The Insolvency Service conducted a criminal investigation, which was reviewed by an independent senior prosecution lawyer in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, who concluded there was no realistic prospect of a conviction.

Providing an update into the investigation today, an Insolvency Service spokesperson said:

“After a full and robust criminal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the employees who were made redundant by P&O Ferries, we have concluded that we will not commence criminal proceedings.”

The civil investigation by the Insolvency Service is ongoing and the spokesperson said that no further comment would be made at this time.


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