Coulson in 'quick and cheap' dismissal bid, tribunal hears

The former News of the World sports writer Matt Driscoll has claimed disability discrimination at an employment tribunal.

The tribunal heard that when the editor Andy Coulson heard Driscoll was off sick he sent an email to his deputy editor saying: ‘I want him out quickly and cheaply.’

Coulson resigned in January last year as NoW editor and is now director of communications for the Conservative party. The email was revealed at an employment tribunal in Stratford, east London this week.

The tribunal, which is hearing Driscoll’s claims for dismissal and disability discrimination, was told that following the ‘get him out’email, Driscoll received numerous phone calls, emails and recorded letters to his home between 17 July and 4 August 2006 from NoW staff.

Driscoll was dismissed in April last year while still off sick. He told the tribunal that Coulson took against him when he became editor.

Before Coulson took charge, Driscoll had been told by his sports editor, Mike Dunn, that he was being promoted to chief sports writer, but Coulson blocked it, the tribunal heard.

Driscoll told the tribunal that three unwarranted disciplinary charges were brought against him to try to pressure him into resigning.

He said it was the stress of the disciplinary proceedings that made him ill. He has still not fully recovered nearly two years later, the tribunal heard.

Driscoll’s barrister, Matthew Sheridan, asked Stuart Kuttner, managing editor of the News of the World, about an email he sent to Coulson about Driscoll’s illness. ‘You were updating Coulson on how his plan to remove Mr Driscoll quickly and cheaply was going,’said Sheridan.

Kuttner replied: ‘That may be what Mr Coulson wanted, but that wasn’t happening.’

Driscoll’s father, Robert, told the tribunal that he wrote to the newspaper to say that his son’s GP was concerned to hear of the unremitting bombardment of letters, phone calls and emails from the News of the World straight after his son’s illness was diagnosed.

Robert Driscoll said the GP considered that his son’s illness was due to the immense stress he had been put under by his employers.

Kuttner told the tribunal: ‘Mr Driscoll’s father was completely distorting reality. We were trying to help”.

Kuttner said Driscoll was dismissed because he could not say when he would be able to return to work and the paper needed to replace him.

The hearing was adjourned until 4 September.

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