Ex-BBC Commentator Claims Unfair Dismissal Following Whistleblowing Incident

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Ex-BBC Commentator Claims Unfair Dismissal Following Whistleblowing Incident
Photo Credits - K. Mitch Hodge via Unsplash

A former BBC commentator is seeking compensation through an employment tribunal, alleging unfair dismissal for whistleblowing in the workplace. Read on as we delve into the facts of this captivating case and examine the legal protections for whistleblowers.

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BBC Commentator Ian Stringer Claims Unfair Dismissal

Ian Stringer was a BBC commentator who began working for the British broadcaster in 2008. Initially contributing his expertise to BBC Leicester as a sports journalist, Mr Stringer’s broadcasting career followed a notable appearance on the BBC show, The Apprentice.

Bullied for Whistleblowing in the Workplace

Legal action unfolded following Mr Stringer’s termination for misconduct in 2022 after a year of suspension. The saga began in July 2021 when Kamlesh Purohit, then the station editor, directed a team member to report to the office despite the individual being alerted by the Covid app. At the time, such action was “a breach of Covid rules”.

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During employment tribunal proceedings, Mr Stringer detailed feeling bullied subsequent to making a protected disclosure to Mr Purohit. The BBC commentator illuminated the challenging dynamic he endured with the station editor, asserting that it deteriorated into toxicity post-disclosure. His disclosure concerned the purported disregard for Covid rules. 

Ian Stringer’s Social Media is Investigated

Mr Stringer also revealed an investigation into his social media activity just days after his disclosure. He underscored the seemingly coincidental timing, expressing his belief that the proximity of these events was peculiar.

The BBC commentator had endorsed a company that had provided him free use of cars like a BMW 5 series to his thousands of social media followers.
Photo Credits – Shashwat Narkhede via Unsplash

The tribunal learned that Mr Stringer had endorsed a company that had provided him free use of cars like a BMW 5 series to his thousands of social media followers. Additionally, they heard the BBC commentator had mentioned his substantial following to Garmain when contacting them about his charitable run. In response, Garmain provided him with two complimentary watches.

Broadcaster Claims BBC Commentator Breached Social Media Policies

The BBC alleged Mr Stringer had breached several of its social media policies. This included promoting the car company without declaring the relationship with the BBC and attempting to solicit free gear.

However, the BBC commentator challenged the broadcaster’s stance. He claimed they hadn’t adequately trained him about the policies and didn’t believe his conduct amounted to gross misconduct. Furthermore, he contended his actions were no different from Gary Lineker’s promotion of Walkers crisps.

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As such, he claims he’s been unfairly dismissed on two accounts, including whistleblowing in the workplace. We await the tribunal’s decision as the case continues to unfold.

Whistleblower Protection: Safeguarding Employees and Promoting Transparency

The BBC commentator claims he’s been unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing. This concerns when he made a protected disclosure about the alleged breach of Covid rules. Should this assertion be upheld, it would constitute automatic unfair dismissal, entitling him to pursue compensation.

By law, employees are safeguarded from the outset of their employment when they make a protected disclosure. This safeguarding extends to protection from detriment and unfair dismissal. A qualifying disclosure involves supplying information about the wrongdoings within a company, which may include a criminal offence.

Given that mishandling instances of whistleblowing can result in compensation claims, it’s imperative for employers to address them appropriately. To achieve this, it’s good practice for employers to have a whistleblowing policy in place. This will inform employees about how to make relevant disclosures and provide guidance to those in leadership roles on how to handle them effectively.

Among other things, an effective whistleblowing policy should include:

  • A definition of whistleblowing and its distinctions from a grievance
  • Who an employee should contact if they have any queries
  • How an employee should make their protected disclosure
  • How the disclosure will be investigated and responded to
  • What support is available to staff who make a disclosure

The employer should also outline their encouragement of whistleblowing when warranted and assure employees that they won’t tolerate any form of retaliation for making a protected disclosure.

Get Help with your Whistleblowing Concerns

Unfortunately, there may be instances where employers fail to implement a sufficient whistleblowing policy or handle a disclosure appropriately. If you’ve experienced either, please don’t hesitate to contact Redmans Solicitors. They are employment law specialists and could advise on your possible next steps following a quick consultation.

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