Journalist has harassment claim against BBC thrown out after complaint about her speaking to a reporter - Press Gazette

Journalist has harassment claim against BBC thrown out after complaint about her speaking to a reporter

A BBC journalist and apparent whistleblower has had her employment tribunal claim against the corporation struck out after she spoke to a reporter.

BBC home affairs correspondent Sally Chidzoy brought a tribunal claim saying she was a victim of harassment and sexual discrimination.

Part of her claim centred around the way she was treated after an email from MP Norman Lamb raising concerns about one of her stories was leaked to the Mail on Sunday.

The BBC complained that Chidzoy engaged in unreasonable conduct by speaking to a reporter, when she spoke to a journalist from the Cambridge Times in a break from giving evidence.

Judge Michael Ord said: “It is the fatal damage to our trust in the claimant and the way the case is conducted on her behalf that has led us to the unanimous conclusion that it was not possible for a fair trial of any of the issues.

“Accordingly, the claimant has been guilty of unreasonable conduct.”

Chidzoy, who has worked for the BBC for 30 years, alleged she was harassed and discriminated against after raising concerns in 2013 about her manager’s links to a charity she was investigating.

In a witness statement she claimed that in August 2013 she was investigating a charity called the Centre for Business and Public Sector Ethics which was receiving funding from the Chinese Government.

She said that when she phoned the charity for a comment she was told that its spokesman was Nikki O’Donnell, who was a news editor at Look East and her line manager.

Chidzoy said the BBC paid the charity for help with a broadcast which BBC Look East did from Shanghai and that this was a misuse of BBC funds.

She said: “Following my disclosure about Ms O’Donnell’s outside interests in August 2013 I believe that I was ostracised, isolated and left without management support.”

In her evidence she also said that in 2014 an investigation into the pay and perks enjoyed by the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust was spiked after an email was sent to another manager at the BBC, Steve Silk from Norman Lamb MP.

She said that after she made complaints about this the matter was covered up and she was victimised.

After the Lamb email found its way to the Mail on Sunday Chidzoy was herself the subject of a BBC investigation.

She said that two lawyers asked for her phone during a meeting and that when she refused to hand it over she felt “falsely imprisoned”.

Chidzoy said that on one occasion a BBC manager referered to her as a Shih Tzu in an email and she was given a written warning.




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Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette