Tribunal dismisses case after claimant briefs reporter during an adjournment

News Article

A BBC employee has lost her legal action after an employment tribunal dismissed her case when it was revealed she had briefed a newspaper journalist before she had finished giving evidence.

BBC journalist, Sally Chidzoy, had taken her employer to tribunal for allegations relating to workplace bullying and sexual discrimination.

Ms Chidzoy was nearing the end of giving her evidence in support of her claim when the BBC’s legal team alleged she had spoken about her case with a newspaper journalist during an adjournment.

Lawyer’s acting for the broadcasting corporation successfully argued that the claimant’s actions were unreasonable and made a fair trial impossible.

The employment tribunal held that Ms Chidzoy’s discussions during a break in proceedings while still under oath was “unreasonable conduct” and justified her claim being struck out.

The panel ruled: “Firm, clear and unequivocal instructions were given to the claimant at each adjournment not to discuss her evidence or any aspect of the case with anyone during the adjournments.

“The claimant was not unrepresented. There were two members of the solicitors’ practice acting on her behalf present throughout the hearing and during the adjournments. They fully understood (or should have done) the importance of a witness not engaging in discussion whilst they are giving evidence…

“We have considered carefully whether this is a matter which we can overlook but we cannot. Unanimously we consider that a fair trial is no longer possible.”

Lara Murray, an Associate and employment law expert said: “This case illustrates that great care needs to be taken by employees and employers alike to ensure that they do nothing to jeopardise the outcome of an Employment Tribunal hearing.

“The rules are in place to ensure that both parties receive a fair and unbiased hearing and to prevent the risk of a third party corrupting the evidence of a witness.

“Any employer who is involved in a dispute which may lead to a tribunal hearing should seek expert legal advice at the earliest opportunity.”

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