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Employment Law Case Update: Chidzoy v British Broadcasting Corporation

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Tribunals can be unexciting. Shame, then, that the quite interesting details of Chidzoy v British Broadcasting Corporation have been cruelly snatched away from us by a technicality that the claimant really should have known about.

Broadcast journalist Ms Chidzoy had worked at the BBC for 30 years. She bought a claim of sexual discrimination and victimisation against the BBC and also claimed that management ‘falsely imprisoned’ her in an attempt to seize her phone. These claims stemmed from an allegation from the journalist that a previous health minister had made direct attempts to interfere with an ongoing piece of work that had yet to be broadcast.

The matter went to tribunal last month - but the claim was struck out. Under Employment Tribunal rules, a tribunal may strike out all or part of a claim or response at any stage of the proceedings, either on its own initiative or following the application of a party on the grounds that:-

  1. It is scandalous or vexatious or has no reasonable grounds of success
  2. The manner in which the proceedings have been conducted by or on behalf of the parties has been scandalous, unreasonable or vexatious
  3. The party has not complied with any of the ET rules or an order of the tribunal
  4. It has not be actively pursued
  5. It is no longer possible to have a fair hearing

The employment tribunal struck out her claim after she discussed the case with a newspaper journalist during a break in her evidence, whilst still under oath. She was part way through her third day of being cross examined. The BBC applied to strike out on the basis that the manner in which the proceedings had been conducted by or on her behalf had been scandalous or unreasonable and that it was no longer possible to have a fair trial. The BBC argued that if the claimant had discussed the case on that occasion it could not be said she had not done so on other occasions.

Warnings had been given during proceedings that the claimant was not to discuss her evidence or any aspect of the case during any adjournments. The tribunal held that their trust in the claimant was ‘irreparably damaged’.  Her communication with Eastern Daily Press, during a break, was argued by the BBC to have made a fair trial impossible. The tribunal agreed with this as a matter which they could not overlook and her claim was ultimately struck out.

If attending a tribunal it is important to note that the details of the case are not to be discussed whilst the tribunal is ongoing, and especially if you are midway through giving evidence yourself. It is significant that information is not passed between the person giving evidence and a third party because of the risk of corrupting evidence. If you are ever in doubt of what matters you can and cannot discuss you should seek advice from your solicitor.

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.