Journalist wins £30,000 in tribunal case against Sunday Times

By Dominic Ponsford

Former Sunday Times journalist David Connett was unfairly dismissed when the paper disbanded its Insight investigations team last year, an employment tribunal ruled today.

Stratford employment tribunal ruled that although Connett was regarded by the company as a “casual” employee, he was still entitled to claim for unfair dismissal. It awarded him £30,000 – as opposed to the £18,000 the Sunday Times had offered him when he was made redundant.

Connett joined the Sunday Times on the Insight team on 11 June 2003 working as a freelance.

On 1 August 2003 he became a full time casual under the News International system submitting a green docket each week for his pay.

The tribunal ruled that his rights as a full time employee commenced on the 1 August 2003.

Connett was told he was to lose his job on 28 June, 2005, at a meeting with managing editor Richard Caseby. The Sunday Times was criticised by the tribunal for giving Connett no advance notice of the meeting and no information about his right to be accompanied at it.

The tribunal chairman said Sunday Times executives “showed a complete disregard for proper procedures and failed to take proper advice despite having access to human resources and legal advice.”

She added, however, that the paper did not act maliciously and that the way Connett was sacked was “based on a mistaken understanding of the complainant’s lack of employed status.”

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