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Clarks taken to tribunal by former chief executive over misconduct claims

Because he claims he was not given the opportunity to defend a claim of misconduct, the former chief executive of Clarks Shoe Stores is taking the firm to an employment tribunal. He claims that he did not have a chance to defend himself before he left the company.

Clarks Shoes asked Mike Shearwood to leave the company last year after allegations against him were made. The allegations included those of racism and sexism.

Shearwood claims he was asked to leave because he attempted to blow the whistle on some accounting practises which he deemed were questionable.

Shearwood claimed that he was given a list of the allegations which had been made against him just hours before he departed in June 2018. Clarks stated that Shearwood had breached the code of ethics which the company upholds.

Allegations include Shearwood calling black people ‘violent’ and using racist language in texts. He is also alleged to have called an Asian woman a ‘thing’. Shearwood denies the accusations and stated that they were taken out of context.

A spokesperson for Clarks stated that the company rejected all allegations raised by Shearwood against them and they would be standing by the circumstances which surrounded his termination.

Clarks’ spokesperson said that Mr Shearwood had resigned following an investigation into complaints regarding his conduct which is clearly set out in the family-owned company’s Code of Business Ethics.

An investigation had shown that Shearwood’s conduct fell below the mark which the company expected from all their senior management. This had happened on several occasions.

Clarks’ firmly believe that Mr Shearwood is fabricating accusations against them in order to elicit termination payment from the company. At the time of his departure Clarks had made it very clear that Shearwood’s behaviour did not warrant compensatory or notice payment.

It is the wish of Clarks that the employment tribunal agree with them and see that Shearwood’s claim for remuneration is a tactical device and a calculated attempt to not only damage the company but also to discredit their reputation.

Giorgio Presca, former Geox chief executive was appointed new chief executive of Clarks in February.

In the wake of Shearwood’s departure from Clarks, senior independent director Stella David was appointed as interim chief executive before being promoted to chair of Clarks in April.

Before his employment with Clarks, Shearwood worked as chief executive for Karen Miller from 2009 to 2015.

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