BBC reporter Sally Chidzoy loses employment tribunal appeal - and it was her chat with our reporter that sealed her fate

Sally Chidzoy. Photo Matthew Usher.

Sally Chidzoy. Photo Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

BBC journalist Sally Chidzoy has lost her appeal against a tribunal claim that she was victimised and harassed with the blame falling on a casual chat with a Cambs Times/Ely Standard reporter.

Judge Jennifer Eady QC, sitting at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London, said: “Having reached the conclusion it did, as to the irretrievable loss of trust arising from the claimant’s conduct, the employment tribunal correctly held that there was no alternative to striking out the claim.”

Ms Chidzoy had her original tribunal case halted mid way through after a barrister for the BBC overheard her speaking to journalist Sarah Cliss during an adjournment.

He managed to get the case thrown out on the grounds of “unreasonable behaviour” as it broke the terms of an agreement not to speak about the case.

Ms Cliss said: “The conversation with Sally was mostly general chit chat about news desks and their inability to give correct details.

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“I was late arriving because I was told the tribunal was starting an hour later than it actually did. We were laughing that that was nothing unusual.

“Sally said she was glad that someone was there to cover the tribunal and yes the word Rottweiler was mentioned – but it was me that said it in reference to myself.

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“Apart from Sally’s solicitor, who asked me for a written statement at the time, no one from the court or the BBC has asked me about the conversation.”

Ms Chidzoy, home affairs correspondent for BBC Look East, had alleged victimisation and harassment against the corporation.

During the part of the tribunal that did go ahead, it was revealed that a substantial part of Ms Chidzoy’s claims centred on an email in which a manager had referred to her as “Sally Shitsu” following a story she was putting together about dangerous dogs.

The 56-year old BBC employee of 30 years also said she was worried about the level of influence North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who was a health minister at the time, was exerting on the BBC.

Today’s judgement was delivered at a brief hearing at which neither Ms Chidzoy nor her legal representatives were present.

It was during the latter stages of the original case when the BBC barrister complained to the tribunal chairman, Judge Michael Ord, that Ms Chidzoy had been seen speaking with Ms Cliss.

The judge later ruled that Ms Chidzoy had been guilty of unreasonable conduct by speaking with the journalist and dismissed her claim. He argued that it stretched the bounds of incredulity to suggest they had not discussed the case.

Despite the fact Ms Chidzoy had almost finished giving evidence when she spoke to Ms Cliss; the judge said her actions had irreparably damaged trust.

He said: “It is the fatal damage to our trust in the claimant and the way the case is conducted on her behalf that has led us to the unanimous conclusion that it was not possible for a fair trial of any of the issues

“Accordingly, the claimant has been guilty of unreasonable conduct.”

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