Company executives sacked over sexist chat group lose £300k claim

Tristan Kirk
Sacked: Roberto Solari and Paul Wells: Champion News

Two sacked company executives accused of sharing sexist and offensive messages in an office WhatsApp group have lost a £300,000 compensation claim against their former bosses.

Paul Wells, 39, and Roberto Solari, 36, were part of a “blokey” set of male employees at Surrey shipping company PNC Global Logistics who sent round pornographic material and degrading comments about female colleagues and had nicknames based on coffee.

It created an “unhealthy office environment” that was “degrading” to women, the High Court heard. The firm was taken over in 2017.

In March this year, Mr Solari — nicknamed Skinny Latte — and Mr Wells were dismissed for gross misconduct for revealing secret financial information about the company to Mr Solari’s father Paul, the former chairman of PNC, who was nicknamed Al Cappuccino.

The two men sued PNC, claiming the real reason for them being sacked was to deprive them of company shares they valued at £150,000 each.

However, Judge Jonathan Simpkiss has now ruled after a trial that the sackings were justified.

He said the activities of the WhatsApp group, discovered after another employee handed in an old work phone, would also have amounted to gross misconduct and were “wholly unacceptable”.

Paul Solari was not involved in the WhatsApp group and not a party to the case.