THE costs of Malvern's bungled town clerk sacking can today be revealed - with the saga burning through more than £82,000 of taxpayers' money.

Seventeen months ago an employment tribunal severely criticised Malvern Town Council for unfairly firing Richard Chapman, but the costs were never made public.

A Freedom of Information request from this newspaper has now revealed:

- The authority racked up a bill of £82,066 on the controversial fallout, including the £60,907 awarded in compensation by the tribunal judge

- The initial in-house investigation cost taxpayers £3,527, staffing costs to cover his six-month suspension left a bill of £6,117 and the tribunal itself racked up £5,909 in legal fees and preparation work

- A disciplinary panel, which was lambasted by the tribunal judge for overseeing a "witch-hunt", cost £4,542

The outcome has sparked fresh criticism from Mr Chapman, who said he is still "bruised" from it.

"I was very bruised by it all, I got on very well with the staff, most members, and gave over a fifth of my life to Malvern," he said.

"I really did adopt the town spiritually, and really am very sorry about the whole episode and the shenanigans.

"I enjoyed my time as town clerk, we had a lot of success."

He said he was still determined to defend the authority's record during his time, citing a reduction of the council tax precept from £980,000 to £550,000, the new hospital, revamping the gas lamps and the 'In Bloom' successes.

The findings have led to Councillor Julian Roskams, the mayor and chairman at the time of the fallout, insisting he has "moved on" from it.

"The town council is in a completely different place now, nobody talks about it any more, as far as we are concerned it is water under the bridge," he said.

"It was very unfortunate what happened, for the town council it was a wasted year and I would much rather it never happened, but it did.

"We respected the verdict and have come out of it a lot stronger.

"There is a very different atmosphere now in the council chamber."

Councillor Julian I'Anson, the Mayor of Malvern, said: "We've got an excellent town clerk (Linda Blake) and the team under her are working hard.

"We have moved forward."

The town council said the net cost was £66,360 once you take into account a £15,706 yearly saving from a staffing restructure after Mr Chapman went.

At the time of his sacking the authority had a gross budget of around £709,000.

Richard Chapman: where did it all go wrong?

IN April 2014 Malvern Town Council fired Mr Chapman as its clerk, saying his employment was being terminated 'with immediate effect'.

Within days he issued his own statement saying he'd lodged a complaint with the Employment Tribunal in Birmingham for unfair dismissal.

By the time it went to the tribunal in October 2014 it emerged one female employee claimed he was favouring other workers by giving them tomato plants and leaving her out, which was cited as one reason behind the fallout.

She complained to bosses that the fruity gifts, from Mr Chapman's own greenhouse, had been handed to every other member of staff but her.

He was accused of bullying, harassment and favouritism and was sacked following an internal investigation which found him guilty of gross misconduct.

But the tribunal ruled in his favour, with the judge Mary Cocks calling the council's own investigation "flawed".

She said Mr Chapman has 12 years of "unblemished service", even saying Councillor Roskams had put obstacles in the way of him returning to work following the investigation.

She said: "I have rarely heard a case where the unfairness of the dismissal was so apparent to me."

His solicitor Richard Hignett slammed the case against him as a "witch hunt" and labelled the appeal panel that rejected his pleas to return to work a "kangaroo court".

At the time of the tribunal it was alleged that Mr Chapman shouted at two staff members in October 2013, and that he'd been accused of "bellowing" at another individual in a car park, although he denied it.

After a complaint from one worker the council launched its own investigation and suspended him, eventually allowing him to return to work before the April 2014 dismissal for breaching the council's bullying and harassment policy.

He was awarded £60,907 by the tribunal judge.