A rejected candidate for the chairmanship of Northern Ireland Water has won a religious discrimination case against the Department for Regional Development.

An industrial tribunal found former regional development minister Conor Murphy appointed chairman Sean Hogan because he knew him and he was not a Protestant.

The case was brought by Alan Lennon, one of four Protestant candidates who lost out to Hogan, a Catholic.

The tribunal said Murphy’s evidence lacked credibility and the department had not provided an adequate non-discriminatory explanation for Lennon’s less favourable treatment.

Lennon said he had gone to the tribunal after the department failed to give him feedback on why he had not got the job, for which he considered himself well qualified.

Murphy denied his selection was made on any other basis than merit. He may appeal the decision.

This article first appeared in Utility Week’s print edition of 29 June 2012.

Get Utility Week’s expert news and comment – unique and indispensible – direct to your desk. Sign up for a trial subscription here: http://bit.ly/zzxQxx