Journalist wrongly fired for refusing to go to war

Dominic Ponsford

An employment tribunal has upheld the right of journalists to refuse to go to war.

London-based
ABC News correspondent Richard Gizbert was sacked after 11 years in the
job after a dispute over his refusal to travel to Iraq.

Before
the case Gizbert said. “This case is not just about me. Many news
organisations are having difficulty finding reporters to cover this
war, especially since westerners have become targets of bombings and
abductions. It is vital companies like ABC/Disney, which claim war
zones are voluntary, are held to account when they renege on their
promises.”

He believed the case could set a legal precedent for employment law in the UK.

Finding
in favour of Gizbert, Central London employment tribunal said: “The
tribunal concluded that an assignment which involved going to a war
zone did comprise a circumstance of danger. Although the respondent did
its best to protect its correspondents with both equipment and security
advisers, it is obvious that there is still a serious danger of anyone
going to such areas.”

It concluded that Gizbert had been unfairly dismissed “for a reason related to health and safety”.

Mr
Gizbert’s barrister, Patrick Green of Henderson Chambers, said the
judgement has serious implications for reporters and their employers:

“It
marks an important step in the caselaw, by recognising the global
workplace and the real risks of reporting from war zones. Perhaps above
all, it shows that a voluntary war zone policy should mean exactly what
it says.”

Martin Bell, the former BBC war correspondent and
former independent Member of Parliament, acted as an expert witness on
Mr Gizbert’s behalf. He said this was a necessary case, particularly
for younger journalists, who may be afraid to refuse an Iraq assignment
for fear of losing their jobs.

Comments
No comments to display

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

19 + 5 =

CLOSE
CLOSE