Ex-BBC Leicester journalist Ian Stringer employment tribunal reaches decision over 'unfair dismissal' claims

Promotional photo of Ian Stringer on the BBC Apprentice
-Credit: (Image: © Talkback Thames/BBC)

A former BBC Leicester journalist has lost an employment tribunal after claiming he was unfairly dismissed by the corporation for whistleblowing. Ian Stringer also claimed to suffer unfair treatment saying he was treated differently to other BBC stars, such as Gary Lineker.

Mr Stringer, was hired as a sports journalist for BBC Radio Leicester, following a stint on the BBC show The Apprentice in 2008. He was suspended in 2021 and dismissed the following year after concerns were raised about his social media use and failure to declare cars he had been "gifted" and later promoted online.

Mr Stringer alleged the move equated to unfair dismissal and claimed he had been “singled out” compared to other BBC stars like Gary Lineker who also promoted and endorsed goods online. However, employment judge Kimbra Welch dismissed the comparison, saying Mr Stringer was “not in comparable circumstances” to the Match of the Day host.

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During the tribunal, held in Leicester, it was heard how Mr Stringer claimed the BBC’s investigation into his actions was “defective”. BBC bosses had originally found that he had made unjustifiable “shout outs” to a number of commercial companies which breached the BBC’s impartiality guidelines.

Mr Stringer said such judgement showed he had been “treated differently” and “inconsistently” to other BBC staff who used social media in similar ways. Judge Welch disagreed, saying all investigations were “reasonable” and that there were no parallels to other staff, with others having correctly declared to BBC bosses about gifts they’d received and later promoted. She found that Mr Stringer’s dismissal in 2022 was a “reasonable response” in light of the claims of misconduct against him.

Prior to being suspended, Mr Stringer had privately disclosed to managers that his line manager had forced another journalist to “come in a present a show” despite being in contact with someone who had Covid-19 - what would then have been a breach of Government guidelines. The former Leicester City commentator alleged his whistleblowing had also played a part in his later dismissal, but this was rejected by Judge Welch.

In her report, she said the reason for his sacking was conduct related and that his disclosure to bosses “formed no part” of his later job loss. She said claims of automatic unfair dismissal on these grounds “must fail”.

Judge Kimbra also found that Mr Stringer was not subjected to a “detriment” by his BBC bosses and that any comparisons with other BBC staff and their social media use was “materially different” to his case. "All claims" against the corporation were dismissed.

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