Lollipop man loses battle with Camden Council over sacking for ‘King Kong’ jibe

Jon Seymour. Picture: Nigel Sutton.

Jon Seymour. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A primary school lollipop man who sued Camden Council after he was sacked for a row with a black colleague who he called “King Kong” has had his case thrown out by a judge.

Jon Seymour was dismissed by the council in April last year for gross misconduct having served as a lollipop man at Carlton Primary School, in Grafton Road, Kentish Town, since 1995.

Trinidad-born Mr Seymour had been suspended by the council from July 2013 following an altercation at Camden Town Hall, in Judd Street, King’s Cross, with Johnson Akinmoyede, a black council employee whom he called “King Kong”.

The former lollipop man attended a two-day employment tribunal this week claiming his dismissal was unfair and seeking thousands of pounds in compensation.

He denied being overly aggressive in the altercation and insisted he was not being racist when he used the term “King Kong” because he is also black.

But yesterday, Judge David Pearl, sitting at the Central London Employment Tribunal, threw out Mr Seymour’s unfair dismissal claim, pointing out that the council had a clear code of conduct which Mr Seymour had been shown to have breached.

He added: “Therefore I conclude that the regrettable decision to dismiss the claimant was one that a reasonable employer could properly and legitimately take in these circumstances.”

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The tribunal heard the row erupted because Mr Seymour was speaking loudly on his mobile phone in the town hall reception area as he waited for a meeting.

He was trying to arrange a parking refund over the phone after a meter swallowed £4 of change.

However, when Mr Akinmoyede came from a nearby office to ask him to be quieter, the tribunal heard Mr Seymour replied: “Who are you, King Kong? I will break you, move away from me.”

He was escorted from the building by security officers after the incident.

Following the incident, the tribunal heard Christopher Nicola, manager of the council’s Smarter Travel Team, conducted an investigation which took nine months, a length of time described by Judge Pearl as “regrettable”.

Louise McBride, head of transport strategy at the council, chaired the disciplinary hearing which dismissed Mr Seymour.

At the hearing last year, she described Mr Seymour’s behaviour during the row as “both physically and verbally aggressive and threatening.”

Speaking outside the tribunal, Mr Seymour said he would be appealing the decision.

He told the Ham&High: “There’s no justice in England. It leaves me jobless, it’s hard for me to get another job because I breached the code of conduct.

“Maybe I’ll emigrate to another country. I’ve been applying for jobs for the last year but they see I’ve been sacked and I don’t hear anything.”