A journalist with 22 years experience, who found a dead mouse in her pigeonhole, is to sue Kent Messenger Group for unfair dismissal.
Amanda Fisher, 50, joined KMG in August 2000 as a trainee sub-editor and went on to become a feature writer.
She had previously worked in broadcast journalism for the BBC, Channel Four, ITV and Sky. She claims she was subjected to a “concerted campaign of harassment and intimidation” after raising concerns about the quality of training as well as health and safety.
The dead mouse appeared in her internal mail in April 2003. According to the claim documents: “The mouse had clearly been freshly killed as the blood was new”.
In July 2003 Fisher went on sick leave after her GP certified that she was “stressed and anxious due to bullying at work”.
The alleged bullying included numerous questions about her whereabouts and actions from senior staff, the omission of bylines and a succession of comments which Fisher believes were calculated to offend her.
KMG appointed an external investigator to look into her allegations.
Although she claims its interim findings in March 2004 were in her favour, she was dismissed in June, never having returned to work.
Fisher said: “I am deeply saddened at having to issue these proceedings.
This was a job that I had always longed to do ever since my days at my Kent grammar school.
“I believe I did the job well, I enjoyed doing it and all I wanted was to carry on doing it”.
KMG editorial director Simon Irwin said: “It is a pity things have come to this. I believe we did everything we could to resolve all the issues in Amanda’s case.
“We will contest all her claims at the tribunal.” Fisher is claiming £1,078 for two months during her sick leave when she was placed on half pay.
She is also claiming £681.06 which she says is owed to her for 13 days untaken holiday.
By Dominic Ponsford