Here is the text of a press release on 7 August 2014
BBC’s Former Technology Chief Wins Landmark Unfair Dismissal Case Against Corporation August 7th 2014
The former Chief Technology Officer at the BBC has won a landmark unfair dismissal case against his former employers following the failure of a £100million technology project at the corporation.
In a scathing judgement, the Employment Tribunal found John Linwood’s summary dismissal was “profoundly substantively and procedurally flawed”.
Mr Linwood said: “Serious allegations of misconduct were made against me out of the blue and without any foundation or prior investigation. I was told to resign or be put through a disciplinary process and face dismissal. I refused to resign because I had not committed any act of misconduct. The Employment Tribunal has now found that the allegations made against me were ‘general, vague, broad in nature and non-specific’ and ‘virtually impossible to address in any practical way’ and that my summary dismissal was profoundly procedurally and substantively unfair. The Tribunal found that the entire BBC Executive was well aware of the problems of DMI throughout and that I was reporting factually through the appropriate channels.
“I believe I was made a scapegoat by the BBC. I am profoundly grateful to the Employment Tribunal for getting to the heart of this whole sorry episode.”
Mr Linwood said the past year had been “horrendous” but he had a duty to fight the BBC’s serious allegations of misconduct made against him in connection with the abandonment of the £100m Digital Media Initiative.
Mr Linwood’s solicitor, Louise Hobbs, of Signet Partners LLP, said: “Our client’s decision to challenge his summary dismissal has been wholly vindicated. The process unleashed against him by the BBC in May 2013 was held to be ‘profoundly, substantively and procedurally flawed’. “The judgment gives an unedifying insight into the inner workings of the BBC at senior management level.
“The Tribunal found that the BBC's culture of ‘sacrificial accountability’ and concerns about the presentation of external communications ‘entirely eclipsed the requirements of reasonable compliance with the fundamental principles of a fair hearing’. The Tribunal also found that the BBC’s internal culture gave rise to the ‘steering of the spotlight of blame’ by others who ‘felt themselves to be in danger of association with the sinking ship’ of DMI.
“The facts of the case speak for themselves, and the Employment Tribunal’s findings, including findings about the evidence given by a number of the BBC’s witnesses on a number of issues (described variously as ‘evasive’, ‘inconsistent’, ‘contradictory’, ‘not credible’ and ‘unrelentingly negatively biased and extremely damning’), are set out in full in the judgment which is available on the Employment Tribunal website.
“It was a very brave decision by Mr Linwood to challenge the might of the BBC. He took a principled stand and the outcome is thoroughly well-deserved. No one reading this judgment can be left in any doubt that our client, a senior professional with an excellent track record, has been treated appallingly by the BBC.”
Mr Linwood, who was found to be a whistle-blower, did not persuade the Tribunal that his suspension was related to his status as whistle-blower. The Tribunal did however observe that it was apparent that the announcement of Mr Linwood’s suspension, after he refused to resign, in close association to the closure of DMI and the attendant write-down of almost £100 million would, in publicity terms, ‘be the next best thing to the announcement of Mr Linwood’s resignation or dismissal, in terms of the attachment to him of public ‘blame’ for the failure of the project’, which, his lawyer said, “is precisely what followed”.
Mr Linwood said “The Tribunal’s judgment that my summary dismissal was both unreasonable and unfair is a complete vindication of my decision to fight this on a point of principle. I thank my family for their unwavering support throughout this process, and my excellent legal team, Louise Hobbs of Signet Partners and Stuart Ritchie QC, for their stellar advice and commitment to my case. I also thank my new employers, Wood Mackenzie, who were prepared to put their faith in me and offer me a job before the case had been heard.”
Stephen Halliday, CEO at Wood Mackenzie, said: “It is to John’s enormous credit that he has been performing at an extremely high level for us while under enormous pressure as a result of this case. We’re very lucky to have him as a key member of our senior team.”
A decision on compensation is expected to be determined in due course.