Video journalism trainer and BBC in career break dispute

Lisa Lambden is headed for a High Court showdown with the BBC after discovering that her old job was not available when she returned from a six-month career break.

Lambden, a veteran BBC editor who had national responsibility for training the Corporation’s video journalists, says that she had to resign in order to take a career break, and that the BBC agreed she could return to her old job on 7 August 2006.

But when she contacted the BBC to ask about changes during her absence, the BBC failed to reply, and she accuses the corporation of acting in breach of contract.

Now Lambden, who earned £54,744 as head of the SON&R (Sharing Opportunities Across the Nations & Regions) centre in Newcastle, is demanding damages of up to £150,000.

She had joined the BBC in 1990 and decided to take a career break under the BBC’s career break scheme in 2006, according to a High Court writ. She resigned by email on 5 February 2006, and accepted the terms of the career break, agreeing to return in August, the writ says.

Her continuity of employment should have been reserved, she says.

During her absence, the BBC restructured her department, and she accuses the Corporation of failing to reply to her email asking about changes and where the changes left her role as head of centre.

She emailed again on August 1 2006, and said that unless she heard back by within a week, she would assume there was no job for her to go back to, and the BBC failed to reply to this, she says.

Lambden, who has since moved to New York to work with video journalism consultancy Rosenblum Associates, says she believes that her former role has ceased to exist, and that she should have been made redundant, receiving a redundancy payment of one twelfth of her salary for each year of service.

The BBC has breached her contract by failing to pay her redundancy of more than £100,000, she claims.

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