Bullying turned 'dream job into a nightmare'

A former Press and Journal business reporter has claimed constructive dismissal against Aberdeen Journals, alleging he was forced to resign after being subjected to unreasonable pressure from his line manager.

Evidence was heard from both sides at a three-day employment tribunal in Aberdeen in which Bob King explained he was signed off with work-related stress after he claimed he was bullied.

Tribunal members heard that King was a journalist with 40 years’ experience who latterly worked as the Inverness-based business reporter for the P&J in the Highlands.

When agricultural editor Joe Watson also became business editor in November 2002, King – who is now regularly freelancing for five publications – said his dream job turned into a nightmare. He claimed he was frequently phoned and harassed and bullied by Watson and energy correspondent Ian Forsyth, and his stories were often changed unnecessarily.

King was signed off by his doctor for stress last December and eventually resigned in mid March this year due to the stress factor when the situation was not resolved.

Solicitor Tony Dawson, for Aberdeen Journals, told the tribunal that King had rejected three offers to invoke the company’s grievance procedures, whereby his accusations would have been investigated.

He suggested the real reason King resigned was because his pay had been reduced in line with company policy on long-term sickness.

Watson told the tribunal that King’s work was full of errors and his stories often contradicted themselves.

Watson and Forsyth both denied making derogatory remarks about King and the claim that Watson would telephone King in attempts to deliberately annoy him.

Forsyth said the general standard of King’s work was “very, very shoddy” but he and Watson did not invoke disciplinary procedures about his work out of sympathy because he was nearing retirement age.

The tribunal will release a written judgement at a later date.

By Hamish Mackay

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