RAIL bosses have stuck by their decision to sack an award-winning employee from Hampshire.

South West Trains (SWT) has defended the dismissal of Ian Faletto, who says he was fired for removing a shopping trolley which had been dumped on the line near Lymington Town station.

The company spoke out as campaigners unveiled plans to hand in a 6,000-name petition calling for Mr Faletto to be given his job back.

A delegation headed by New Forest West MP Desmond Swayne and the Rev Alex Russell will travel to SWT headquarters in London next week. Mr Swayne has already held talks with the company’s managing director, Andrew Pitt, who told him the matter had been handled “fairly and properly.”

A South West Trains spokesman said: “This case involved a serious breach of safety and the facts are fundamentally different from the seriously inaccurate picture painted to date.

“We had a constructive conversation with Mr Swayne and made clear we never dismiss an employee lightly. It is always based on careful consideration of the relevant facts. It would be entirely wrong to be influenced by external parties or other factors. We are prevented from discussing the case in detail due to employee confidentiality.

“However, we are ready to ensure the full facts are made public at an employment tribunal and would defend our position vigorously if required.”

The spokesman rejected claims a Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union official had been denied access to papers relating to Mr Faletto’s dismissal. He said: “The notes went to the employee in the normal way with a copy to the RMT union representativewho represented the employee.”