A former worker at The Co-operative Group in Manchester was dismissed after taking Twinings tea from the shop shelves to drink in the staff canteen.

James Alden was sacked for what mutual called “misappropriation of company stock”. Staff were permitted to take The Co-op’s own FairTrade tea, free of charge, from store shelves to drink in the canteen – but were required to pay for branded tea.

“The individual concerned was dismissed from his position at our store on Burton Road following serious breaches of a number of our business procedures,” a spokesman for The Co-op said.

“The appeal process has been explained to him should he wish to challenge the decision.”

Alden is not appealing the decision but told the Daily Telegraph he was “flabbergasted” at being sacked for “something so trivial as using the wrong tea bags”.

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