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9 February 2024 | Comment | Article by Claire Tait

Red Bull employment investigation – How to ensure independence

The Red Bull F1 Team have confirmed this week that their Principal, Christian Horner, is under investigation in relation to alleged inappropriate behaviour. It has since emerged that the claims have been made by a Red Bull F1 Team employee concerning his work regime namely ‘incredibly controlling behaviour’.

The parent company, Red Bull, have released a statement confirming that following being made aware of allegations an independent investigation has been launched and is being carried out by an external, specialised lawyer.

Horner has denied the claims and is reportedly due to be questioned by a lawyer today, Friday 9 February.

The importance of independent employment investigations

Employment investigations can cover a range of topics, but the need to appoint an external independent investigator can be due to the need to complete:

  • A departmental / organisational cultural review
  • An investigation into a complex directors dispute
  • An investigation into a complex whistleblowing complaint
  • An investigation into a sexual harassment complaint
  • An investigation into a complex bullying complaint

ACAS Code of Practice

It is important that when an Employment Investigation is carried out that the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievances is followed as a bare minimum, along with any internal policies and procedures the organisation has put in place. It is also important for the investigator to understand the sector, the organisational culture and the varying needs of the employees, who they will meet.

Employment tribunals

If an investigation is not independent or thorough, there is a risk that legal action could be launched. If the investigation outcome leads to an employee being dismissed, the dismissal could be considered an unfair dismissal by an Employment Tribunal. When an Employment Tribunal hears a case which has involved a disciplinary or grievance investigation, the Judge will consider whether the ACAS Code of Practice has been followed. If an employee is successful in an unfair dismissal case the Tribunal can amend the amount of compensation awarded by up to 25% each way if the employer or the employee has unreasonably failed to comply with the ACAS Code.

The benefits of instructing employment investigators

Instructing our team of Investigators, to carry out any form of investigation can ensure that the investigation will be carried out impartially and without internal influence. Additionally, employees are more likely and willing to engage in the investigation process if it is being carried out by an impartial investigator. They are likely to be more reassured about the investigator’s independence and commitment to confidentiality if they are impartial and external to the company where the complaint has been lodged.

Hugh James specialist employment investigations

Our specialist Employment Investigations Unit is led by our London Employment Partner, Claire Tait. Claire has in-depth experience of being appointed as an external independent investigator within the UK and for cross jurisdictional employment matters. Claire is also CIPD accredited and understands the organic People aspect of any investigation process.

Our team of investigators will consider the best way to manage the investigation including considering how to manage the meeting with any vulnerable individuals, the most appropriate location of meetings, ensuring that the investigation is thorough but also ensuring that it is dealt with in a timely manner.

Author bio

Claire Tait


Claire Tait provides specialist business partnering on all aspects of HR and Employment Law. She provides external complex employment investigations support for the private and public sector. She provides a full outsourced HR/in house Counsel support service.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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