A News of the World reporter who suffered from a culture of bullying led by former editor Andy Coulson, who is now David Cameron’s head of communications, has been awarded almost £800,000 for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination.
Matt Driscoll, a sports reporter sacked in April 2007 while on long-term sick leave for stress-related depression, was awarded £792,736 by the east London employment tribunal. It is believed to be the highest payout of its kind in the media, and legal costs could take News International’s total bill well over the £1m mark.
The award will cause fresh embarrassment for Coulson, who resigned in January 2007 from the newspaper after the former royal editor, Clive Goodman, was jailed for hacking into the phone messages of aides to the royal family.
Earlier this year, Coulson faced renewed pressure, after the Guardian revealed that the News of the World’s owner, News International, had paid out £1m to settle claims from Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, and other victims of phone hacking.
Driscoll, who has not been in a full-time job since his dismissal, said the award reflected the severity of the case. (ht2 Anton Vowl)
So the Tories have a problem, their top spin doctor is shown in court to be a bully, not just an also ran but the ring leader, how can any schools operate an anti bullying strategy under a Conservative government that employs a proven bully in a senior position? What message does it send, for all the fine words Cameron and chums might speak over bullying, until he fires Coulson his actions clearly say- bullying is ok with me and I reward, at the highest level and value, bullies in my team, bullying will get you where you want to go. Not to mention bugging.
Just how many ‘second chances’ will Cameron give, and anyway a second chance is what you give someone who shows genuine remorse and contrition, none so far has been forthcoming from Coulson. Now this is all pretty well much unsurprising, people are not shocked Conservatives are bigots, crooks and bullies. Yet it is unfair and wrong to hold that as a prejudice, so here’s a chance for Cameron to show they are not unremittingly awful human beings by firing Coulson, however I would advise him to ensure Coulson has proper medical help. We can’t know why Coulson has this problem, maybe his mother abused him or his father hated him, maybe he is a sociopath, superficially charming yet unable to feel empathy or a wide range of normal human emotions. Maybe a physical malformation of parts of his brain are its cause. While he is in positions of power his personal failings are a source of concern and great potential harm to those affected by his actions, when properly kept in a situation where he cannot harm himself and others he should have our sympathy. Perhaps this will lead to Cameron committing to tax the vast unearned wealth of his supporters to fund proper mental health provision under the NHS, so that Andy might no longer cowardly victimise others, avoiding responsibility for his actions while his underlying personal and mental problems go unaddressed. For those having to work with Coulson, solidarity is the key tactic for deterring bullying, forming strong supportive co-operatives or unions will defeat the bully.
Who said satire was dead?