AN ex-mayor of Salisbury can now pursue a £3.4million claim against his former firm, an appeal court judge has ruled.

Andrew Roberts claims Wilsons Solicitors forced him out after he blew the whistle the covering-up of workplace bullying and harassment allegations.

Mr Roberts, the then-managing partner of the firm, filed in March 2015 for loss of future earnings after finding that he could no longer tolerate being at Wilsons given the other partners’ conduct which had caused him severe stress and illness, and could only obtain lower paid work after being unemployed. But the law firm denied that Mr Roberts could claim any money after he was, in their view, properly expelled from the firm.

An employment tribunal initially struck out most of the claim in November 2015. But an appeal tribunal in March 2016 ruled striking out Mr Robert’s claim “without hearing evidence, or making any findings of fact” had been wrong. Wilsons then appealed this ruling, but now the Court of Appeal has dismissed that appeal. Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday, Lord Justice Singh ordered the firm to pay Roberts’ £15,000 costs and refused it permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Roberts, a former leader of Salisbury City Council, claims Wilsons failed to act on a report which accused a senior partner, who has since left the firm, of bullying staff in 2014. As the partner was effectively a part-owner of Wilsons, he could not be disciplined without a poll of all members. But on the eve of the crucial vote in October last year, Mr Roberts allegedly received a letter signed by a majority of members, refusing to meet to consider the matter.

By November the other members of Wilsons repeatedly demanded Mr Roberts resign as managing partner. They then removed him from that post.

Mr Roberts said it had been impossible for him to carry on at the firm after the way he was voted out as managing partner and resigned. The firm claimed he could not do so, and formally expelled him on April 30, 2015, for failing to turn up to work.

Current managing partner Mike Parker said: “Mr Roberts was asked to reconsider his role as managing partner due to differences of opinion over the firm’s business plans and management styles.”

Mr Roberts said: “I am glad that this important matter concerning responses to serious workplace misbehaviour will finally receive the full public hearing it deserves.”