A Tesco manager has won more than £40,000 after he was sacked for bravely tackling an aggressive shoplifter.

In an 'intensely scary' confrontation, Abdoul El Gorrou restrained the thief to protect customers and other staff before police could arrive.

But rather than receiving praise for his actions in fighting off the attack by the armed shoplifter, the 60-year-old was reported for misconduct by a whistleblower the hearing was told had a 'vendetta' against him.

The staffer was fired after more than 20 years service, with the retail giant arguing he should not have manhandled the shoplifter.

Mr El Gorrou has now won a case of unfair dismissal against Tesco as an employment tribunal ruled he had acted reasonably to defend himself and others.

A shopper carries Tesco bags in north London
The Tesco manager had acted as he was trained to do, the hearing was told (file photo)

A hearing in east London was told the incident took place in June 2019 in a store which was regarded as 'dangerous' because of shoplifters who became violent.

But despite its 'high risk' reputation, no security guards were supplied to the unidentified shop, the tribunal was told.

After spotting a potential thief, the panel heard that - in line with company policy - Mr El Gorrou invited him into his office.

Employment Judge Stephen Knight said: "He noticed a shoplifter. He used his customer service skills, honed over almost 20 years' employment, to invite the shoplifter into the store office.

"At this stage (he) did not feel threatened. It was a situation that (he) will have managed professionally countless times before.

People shop at a Tesco
Tesco was ordered to pay out more than £40,000 to the former employee (file photo)

"This was in line with (his) training, to invite the shoplifter into the office to issue a banning letter and if appropriate call police.

"When the shoplifter was in the office, the shoplifter turned aggressive. He spat at (him). He had in his hand a key, which (Mr El Gorrou) at the time thought was a screwdriver.

"Outside the office were staff and customers who could get hurt. (He) was close to the shoplifter at the time. He had already approached him before the shoplifter became threatening.

"(He) then made a split-second decision to restrain the shoplifter to protect himself and others."

The tribunal heard that while the thief made no complaint, three months later an email and a short video extract of the incident were sent to the Tesco whistleblowing hotline.

"The whistle-blower attached an extract of the store CCTV which they created by recording on their phone a screen which was playing the store CCTV," the panel heard.

"The whistle-blower held some sort of vendetta against (Mr El Gorrou), and was using the CCTV footage to encourage (Tesco) to take disciplinary action against (him)."

The footage showed the two men in a brief struggle, with the manager grabbing the shoplifter by his hood and then restraining him for 10 seconds before officers arrive.

After receiving the complaint, Tesco launched disciplinary action against Mr El Gorrou and fired him for gross misconduct last January for having physical contact with a customer.

The employment tribunal judge criticised Tesco for not being more suspicious of the whistleblower's claims and evidence.

"The CCTV is completely decontextualised," he said. "It does not show what happened immediately before (he) took a step towards the shoplifter.

"Any reasonable employer would also conclude that this was suspicious, and that the footage immediately before the start could be exculpatory, and could have been edited out by the whistle-blower to make(the manager) look worse.

"A reasonable employer would ask why the footage had been edited in this way. However, (Tesco) did not ask itself this question."

The judge also dismissed the supermarket's claim that Mr El Gorrouh had breached its policies on how to tackle shoplifters.

"(His) actions, viewed objectively, were reasonable in all the circumstances as he believed them to be at the time, in defence of himself and others," he said.

"There were no reasonable grounds on which (Tesco) could have concluded that (he) acted otherwise than in response to disgusting and violent actions by the armed and threatening shoplifter.

"There were no reasonable grounds to conclude that in the CCTV footage (he) acted otherwise than in reasonable self defence and defence of others...having made a split-second decision about what defence was required, in an intensely scary and fast-paced situation, and without a security guard having been provided for his or his colleagues' protection."

Mr El Gorrouh was awarded a total of £42,141.56 in compensation.