Matt Driscoll, the News of the World sports reporter sacked in April 2007 while on long-term sick leave for stress-related depression, has been awarded £792,736 after his accusations of bullying were accepted by the east London employment tribunal.
The tribunal found in December 2008 that Driscoll had fallen victim to “a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour”. The tribunal’s ruling of unfair dismissal and disability discrimination is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media. Legal costs could take News International’s total bill well over £1 million.
The award is the latest in a string of costly reversals for the NI Sunday tabloid’s former editor, Andy Coulson, who is now head of communications for David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative party, that include another near-£1 million settlement, to PFA chief Gordon Taylor, over illegal phone hacking.
Driscoll, who had worked at the paper from 1997, has not been in a full-time job since his dismissal. He told Media Guardian:
“Andy Coulson was at the heart of all of this. He should look at himself and decide if his actions in the course of the way I was treated were correct.
“If I were him, I would find it very hard to look in the mirror. I was subjected to unprecedented bullying and he did nothing to stop it, if anything he accelerated it. I didn’t do anything wrong.
“I was in the top 30 sports writers in the country. I then came up against the venom of Andy Coulson, which I found very hard to take. It has taken an incredible amount of strength to take on the richest news group in the world and win. I don’t think anyone has ever done that before with the success that I have.”
The News of the World, which defended the case, said the main reason for Driscoll’s dismissal was his capability or qualifications for performing his work.
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