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Former BBC sports journalist loses unfair dismissal claim after whistleblowing and failing to disclose the ‘gift’ of a car

In a high-profile employment tribunal case, former BBC Leicester reporter Mr. IS, known for his appearance on “The Apprentice,” claimed unfair dismissal after being terminated in 2022. While Mr. IS argued that he was unjustly targeted and compared his situation to that of BBC presenter Gary Lineker, the BBC attributed his dismissal to misconduct. The tribunal revealed that Mr. IS had accepted the “gift” of a car and violated BBC’s social media policy by promoting commercial products. Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of the BBC, concluding that Mr. IS’s dismissal was a reasonable response to his conduct.

In the case of Mr I S v British Broadcasting Corporation Mr IS, who joined BBC Leicester in 2008 after appearing on the BBC’s show The Apprentice, claimed he was unfairly dismissed in 2022. However, the BBC maintained his dismissal was due to misconduct.

The tribunal in Leicester heard that Mr. IS, who became the station’s Leicester City reporter, was suspended in September 2021 and dismissed the following year.

His dismissal followed concerns from BBC management about his social media use and failure to declare the “gift” of a car.

Mr. IS contended that the BBC’s investigation was “defective” and that he had been “treated differently” from others, including former England footballer and BBC presenter Gary Lineker.

During the disciplinary process, Mr. IS compared his actions to those of Lineker, who, he claimed, had relationships with commercial entities outside the BBC.

Judge Welch’s ruling detailed how Mr. IS had complained to an area manager about an incident in July 2021. He alleged that his line manager had forced another journalist to break Covid rules set by the BBC and the government by telling the journalist to “come in and present a show” despite being in contact with someone with Covid.

In the same month, an acting news editor raised concerns about Mr. IS’s use of Twitter, particularly his endorsements of commercial products and businesses. The tribunal heard that Mr. IS had received free use of a BMW 5 Series and an Audi A3 from Leicester-based vehicle rental firm Total Motion and had posted tweets promoting the company and the cars.

Following an investigation, the BBC found more than 300 “shout outs” to companies or people who had “given their services” to Mr. IS. As a result, Mr. IS received a final written warning for abusing the BBC’s social media policy and was dismissed for failing to declare the “gift” of the Audi A3.

The judge found that Mr. Stringer’s dismissal was due to gross misconduct for accepting “gifts” of expensive vehicles without declaring them in accordance with BBC policies. “We are satisfied that the reason for the claimant’s dismissal was conduct and that the protected disclosures formed no part of the dismissing officer’s reasons for dismissal,” she added.

“We do not accept the claimant’s assertion that the investigation was defective.”

The tribunal found that “summary dismissal” was “within the range of reasonable responses” open to the BBC, and all claims were dismissed.

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