BBC journalist Sally Chidzoy tells tribunal of ‘disgusting’ email from boss ‘calling me a shit and a dog and sending it out to 16 managers’

Sally Chidzoy who has taken her BBC bosses to an employment tribunal at Cambridge. She claims her b

Sally Chidzoy who has taken her BBC bosses to an employment tribunal at Cambridge. She claims her boss described her as a dog in an email to managers. PHOTO: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

BBC journalist Sally Chidzoy claims her boss called her a dog in an email he sent to 16 managers at the broadcasting company.

The Home Affairs correspondent for the East of England has made the claim as part of an employment tribunal currently being heard in Cambridge.

Giving evidence this morning, Ms Chidzoy said she was “terribly upset” when she saw the email which had the subject heading ‘Dangerous Dogs’.

It was sent by Mick Rawsthorne, head of BBC Eastern, and was regarding a story Ms Chidzoy was investigating on the Dangerous Dogs Act.

It referred to Ms Chidzoy as Sally shih tzu, a term the BBC representative Sophie Belgrove argued was meant as “a phonetic play on her name”.

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However Ms Chidzoy told the hearing she was terribly upset by the phrase, which she claims was not only hurtful and insulting, but was also sexist.

She disagreed that it was meant to be funny, and said he was calling me “a shit and a dog.

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“I think a boss sending out an email like this about a woman is disgraceful, it’s disgusting.”

Ms Chidzoy pointed out that in 1998 directors at Newcastle Football Club resigned after calling female fans “dogs”.

She said: “It was not acceptable in 1998, and is certainly disgusting and unacceptable now.

“I was very upset. My boss was calling me a shit and a dog, and sending it out to 16 managers.”

The email also suggested using Sally shih tzu as the aston – the word the BBC uses for the name that appears under a person on-screen, with Mr Rawsthorne writing “that’s an aston I would like to see”.

Miss Belgrove argued that if there was a male reporter with the same surname, then the same comments could be made about him, to which Ms Chidzoy replied “I think it’s barking”.

Ms Chidzoy was also asked to explain about comments she is said to have made about journalists being called terriers and Rottweiler in newsrooms. Something Ms Chidzoy explained was common and is often said as a compliment from a journalist who refuses to give up and is very tenacious in chasing down the facts for a story.

“That is different to being called a shit dog, whether it was phonetic play or not.

“It was still highly offensive and disgusting, calling a woman a dog or a shit,” said Ms Chidzoy.

“It was a personal insult. The email was not sent to me but when it was forwarded to me five days later it {the shit zhu comment} had been removed.

“It was sent to 16 managers and not one manager told me about it or came to me and said Sally have you seen this?”

Ms Chidzoy also alleges another email in which Mr Rawsthorne stated “lack of logic was a bit of a theme” when referring to a conversation he had with her about a complaint they received was also sexist.

But Ms Belgrove argued the comment was “straight-forward” and “had nothing to do with gender”.

Ms Chidzoy replied “I think exactly the opposite”.

Earlier the tribunal had been told that the BBC Look East reporter went off work with stress after claiming she was “bullied” by bosses for raising concerns that the corporation’s editorial independence was being compromised

Ms Chidzoy, who has worked for the BBC for 30 years, alleged she was harassed and discriminated against after first raising concerns in 2013 about her line manager’s links to a charity she was investigating.

The case continues.

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