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Senior agent to sue ex-employer over 'misleading market share claims'

An estate agent is suing his former employer for £500,000 after he believes he was unfairly dismissed.

Abdul Samad is taking legal action against London agency Felicity J Lord, part of the Spicerhaart Group.

The agent, who was a senior branch partner at Felicity J Lord's Bow Branch, left the firm in February 2015 and is now suing them for constructive unfair dismissal, racial and religious discrimination and victimisation.

Samad claims he was forced out by the company after he made a whistleblowing allegation that Felicity J Lord was falsely reporting the number of homes it was selling in order to boost its financial value.

Employment tribunal papers, which are quoted in the Evening Standard, allege that Samad and his team were 'committed to creating a false impression of the business' and were told 'not to remove' stock that was no longer available for sale or to let from property portals.

According to the newspaper, the agent claims that senior staff would receive a bonus or commission for extra properties that were listed and that he was instructed not to remove them so they could earn more money.

Samad says that his bosses engaged in 'misrepresentation of market share' in order to make the company seem more valuable to prepare it for a potential stock market flotation, something the Spicerhaart Group has stringently denied.

It says there are no plans for Spicerhaart Group Limited nor any of its subsidiary companies to float, and that it will remain 'proudly independent' for the 'foreseeable future'.

The Evening Standard reports that Samad made the allegations against his employer after he was accused of 'dishonesty, fraud, deliberate falsification of records and breach of company procedure' in July 2014.

The disciplinary proceedings against him were later dropped and in employment tribunal papers, Samad claims that he was informed that the proceedings would be discontinued if he withdrew his complaint and whistleblowing allegations. 

The Standard's report notes that Samad alleges there was no attempt to investigate his claims about misleading the public and that the company did this deliberately in order to cover up the actions of those responsible. 

The Spicerhaart Group has responded to the allegations with a statement, which is reproduced in full below:

“We understand that a number of allegations have been made by one former branch employee of Spicerhaart Group Limited."

“In particular, we understand it has been alleged that Spicerhaart Group Limited employees may have sought to manipulate information intending to increase the value of Spicerhaart Group Limited ahead of a planned flotation.” 

“We can state categorically that there is no such plan to float Spicerhaart Group Limited or any of its subsidiary companies. Spicerhaart Group Limited is privately owned and proudly independent and will remain so for the foreseeable future."”

“These allegations arise out of claims made by a former employee and are the subject of an ongoing case in the employment tribunal. Spicerhaart Group Limited is robustly defending these claims. Given that the matter is the subject of an ongoing case, we are unable to comment in detail on the allegations since we do not wish to prejudice the case."

“We can, however confirm that Spicerhaart Group demands the highest standards of its employees and will not hesitate to act where individuals fail to meet those standards.”

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