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Scientist's sacking justified

A government research institute was justified in sacking a scientist who allowed genetically modified plants to flower, the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) has found.

Igor Kardailsky was dismissed from his role as a senior scientist at the AgResearch campus at Grasslands near Palmerston North in July.

An AgResearch investigation had found Dr Kardailsky allowed genetically modified ryegrass plants to flower without adequate protection while he was on annual leave, in contravention of guidelines set down by the Ministry for Primary Industries and Environmental Protection Authority.

The flowering plants could have released pollen and AgResearch said emails between Dr Kardailsky and other staff were evidence that he intended the plants to flower.

Dr Kardailsky alleged he had been unjustifiably dismissed, but ERA member Michele Ryan said, in a decision released on Wednesday, that AgResearch was acting as a fair and reasonable employer in the circumstances.

Ms Ryan said AgResearch had substantive justification for dismissing Dr Kardailsky on the grounds its investigation concluded he had refused to obey a lawful and reasonable instruction and that his actions were deliberately non-compliant with AgResearch policy.

Further, Ms Ryan said AgResearch followed the correct process in its investigation into the allegations against Dr Kardailsky.

Dr Kardailsky had earlier lost a bid for interim reinstatement as he awaited the ERA hearing over his dismissal.