SACKED firefighter Steve Godward has won his appeal against dismissal from West Midlands fire service. He was suspended during last year's pay dispute following allegations of sabotaging equipment and organising an illegal picket.
Steve was suspended from duty at Aston fire station in Brimingham 50 minutes before the first strike started on 13 November 2002. He was later sacked by chief fire officer Ken Knight, who has since become chief fire officer of the London fire service. Subsequent appeals to the fire authority in January 2003 failed.
The ultimate appeal is to the secretary of state, John Prescott. Junior fire minister Phil Hope upheld the appeal, saying the evidence did not 'on the balance of probabilities' support the dismissal. Steve says, 'I have always maintained my innocence, but I was gobsmacked when I was phoned by my solicitor with the result. I was singled out because I was a successful and active union official. These were trumped up charges from the start and I am glad my name has been cleared at last. It was such a relief to my family who have been through hell. The fire authority's victimisation of our family continued when they ejected my three year old son from the workplace nursery after they sacked me. My daughter was taunted at school after I was sacked. It has been an awful experience for us but this is good news at last. It is financial help from my union which has kept this family's heads above water for the last year. And I thank the FBU for providing me with legal assistance with my case.'