Rolls-Royce has been accused of sacking a senior engineer after he blew the whistle on allegations of potentially serious problems with the company's jet engines.
Dr Hilmi Kurt-Elli, who was a senior design engineer on Rolls-Royce engines used on more than 30 different types of passenger jets, claimed at an employment tribunal on Tuesday that he was dismissed after raising safety concerns with the FTSE100 company's chief executive, John Rishton.
The company said it had thoroughly investigated Kurt-Elli's claims, which relate to alleged errors in a computer modelling system used in designing engines, and found "no evidence to substantiate product or safety integrity concerns".
Rolls-Royce said Kurt-Elli was not sacked for blowing the whistle, but for his unreasonable attitude and the total breakdown of his relationship with colleagues and senior executives.
Kath Durrant, Rolls-Royce's human resources director, told the tribunal in Nottingham she was horrified when she read Kurt-Elli's letter to Rishton outlining "a set of extraordinary allegations".
"I took your claims very seriously," she told Kurt-Elli. "A genuine whistleblower coming to us should expect to be taken very seriously, and that is what I did. We would have been on your side."
Durrant said investigators were called in to investigate Kurt-Elli's claims, first made in October 2011, and Rishton was personally briefed on their progress.
She said Kurt-Elli refused to accept the investigators' verdict that there was no evidence of any safety problem, and he went on to accuse Rishton and other senior executives of "corruption, potentially illegal acts and behaving unethically".
Durrant said Kurt-Elli alleged that "multiple layers of management were involved in a conspiracy to cover up information". Kurt-Elli, who was Rolls' vibration specialist until he was dismissed in February 2012, said it was his case "that the CEO and yourself [Durrant] conducted a sham investigation. It was designed specifically to not uncover the truth."
Durrant denied there were any safety concerns or a coverup. "Dr Kurt-Elli starts from the basis that everybody in the company is corrupt," Durrant said. "I started from wanting to understand what the hell was going on here."
Durrant said the company had no choice but to suspended, and later dismiss Kurt-Elli after he refused to accept the outcome of the investigation and continued to make serious allegations against "so many people".
"The claimant made personal attacks on everyone who would not agree with his position," she said. "I've never seen such language, such allegations used against colleagues. After such a long period of issuing the same allegations there was no relationship on which we could continue."
Kurt-Elli, who was representing himself at the tribunal, said: "People have lied, people have misled." He also alleged that the company did not follow a proper dismissal procedure. Rolls-Royce said the dismissal was carried out correctly.
Tribunal judge Richard Hutchinson said: "We have to decide whether you were dismissed because you made a protected disclosures [blew the whistle], or if it had all to do with your behaviour, not the disclosure.
"They say you made unfounded allegations about your work colleagues leading them to believe you could no longer work in the organisation. If we decide it was because of the protected disclosure, they are in trouble."
Kurt-Elli is seeking compensation of £450,000 from Rolls-Royce.
The tribunal continues.
The case comes as Rolls is subject to a criminal investigation into claims raised by separate whistleblowers that the company paid bribes in Indonesia and China.
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