Claim struck out for speaking to journalist during evidence
A claimant who spoke to a journalist while she was under oath during a break in her evidence has had her claim struck out for unreasonable conduct.
Ms Chidzoy was a journalist who brought various claims against the BBC including whistleblowing and sex discrimination. During her cross-examination she was asked about an email referring to a story about the Dangerous Dogs Act which referred to her as ‘Sally Shitsu’ - a term she had objected to. The BBC responded that Ms Chidzoy had said that she would not have objected if she had been called ‘Sally Rottweiler.’ The use of those words was discussed during the tribunal proceedings.
The tribunal adjourned for a break and Ms Chidzoy was warned by the tribunal not to discuss her evidence or any aspect of the case with any person during the adjournment. During the break she was seen talking to another journalist and overheard using the words ‘dangerous dogs’ and ‘Rottweiler.’ The tribunal decided that Ms Chidzoy’s disregard for its instruction not to discuss the case was unreasonable conduct, and that the breakdown in trust meant that it was no longer possible to hold a fair trial, and that it was proportionate to strike out her claim.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed and found that when reaching the conclusion that it no longer had the necessary trust in the claimant’s truthfulness, the tribunal was entitled to take into account the fact that the claimant had failed to bring the matter to the tribunal’s attention herself and had given differing accounts of the facts. Viewed against the clear instructions that had been given to the Claimant not to discuss her evidence, the tribunal was entitled to conclude that the loss of trust was irreparable and it could no longer conduct a fair trial of the case. If you face tribunal proceedings you should remind your witnesses not to discuss their evidence during the hearing, and consider putting steps in place to help reduce the risk of this occurring.