Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Aircraft Works Employee Charged With Theft

Morgan’s aeroplane works, Leighton Road, Linslade 1917 [Z50/72/195]

Wednesday 25th July 1917: Alfred Philips Barnett, an assistant aircraft erector at Morgan and Company Limited of Linslade has appeared at the Linslade Police Court charged with stealing a number of tools and a tool box from the company on Thursday 19th July. The works manager, Richard Arthur Wheatley gave evidence that Barnett had started work for Morgan’s in December 1916 as a rib maker and had later been transferred to the erecting shop. On the day in question Barnett admitted having an argument with Mr. Gutherie, who had sworn at him and told him “they had --- well enough of him”. Barnett had apologised, but Gutherie refused to have him back in the erecting shop. He was offered an alternative job back in the rib shop but refused and asked for a week’s pay in lieu of notice. Wheatley admitted that he had told Barnett in “plain English” that he could “take the case to the --- Tribunal”. He had refused to take the work offered to him and could “take it or leave it”.

Police Inspector Walker had met Barnett as he alighted from a train on Friday evening and had taken him to the parcel office where the tool box had been left. Barnett told him “there is nothing in the box but what’s my own”. He told the court that before he started at Morgan’s he had been a traveller and salesman for one of the largest furnishers in London, handling between £5000 and £6000 a year in cash. If he had agreed to go back to the rib shop he would have lost money in overtime. He had left the works at very short notice, taking his tool box to the railway station from where he went to Bedford to get another job, and he had not had a chance to check the contents. Two of the files were given to him as worn out, and others were files he had bought himself. He took from Morgans the same number of cramps and drills he had brought with him, as it was impossible in the time available to find his own. The box itself had been made in his own time from scrap wood given to him by the timber yard foreman.

As the case progressed it became apparent that other factors may have influenced works manager Wheatley’s treatment of Barnett. A month earlier Barnett and others had written a letter of complaint about him to the Air Board, and on the previous Tuesday a meeting had been held to form a Union at which Barnett was a leader. Although Wheatley denied that the dismissal was a consequence of these actions, Barnett’s solicitor pointed out there was a striking coincidence in timing. He said it was clear that there was no criminal intent. The magistrates agreed and dismissed the case.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer 31st July 1917

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