Mr Aplin was an openly gay Headteacher at Tywyn Primary School. He was suspended by the school on 1 September 2015 after they were notified that Mr Aplin had consensual sexual intercourse with two 17-year-old boys after meeting them through an internet dating website. The website required joining individuals to certify that they are at least 18 years of age. Mr Aplin’s case was that he believed they were at least 18 years of age. The boys were not pupils of the school.
An investigation was conducted into whether Mr Aplin’s conduct had brought the school into disrepute, whether his conduct outside work had undermined his ability to fulfil his role, and whether it displayed a gross error of judgment such as to undermine the school’s confidence in him. A disciplinary hearing then took place on 17 May 2016. Mr Aplin explained that what he had done was lawful and part of his private life and he felt the investigation report was bias and homophobic. The disciplinary panel dismissed Mr Aplin, regarding his position untenable.
Mr Aplin appealed. He raised concerns that the school had failed to disclose a number of documents which had been used to make their decision. The school decided at short notice to instruct a Barrister to present the case at the appeal. The appeal hearing was rescheduled several times and then Mr Aplin resigned on 27 August 2016 without the appeal taking place. He complained that there had been a totally inept and unfair investigation which had influenced the disciplinary panel and that his grounds of appeal had been ignored.
Mr Aplin brought a claim in the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination. The tribunal found there had been procedural errors with the disciplinary process, particularly at the investigation stage, before the appeal which amounted to a breach of mutual trust and confidence. They found the investigating officer had an unconscious bias against Mr Aplin and lacked objectivity when presenting the evidence.
Although Mr Aplin had appealed against the dismissal which therefore, he had affirmed the contract, he had been constructively dismissed due to the procedural flaws. The tribunal also found that Mr Aplin was discriminated against on the basis he was Gay.
The school appealed in relation to the constructive dismissal finding. The appeal was dismissed. It up-held that Mr Aplin has been constructively dismissed.