£800k pay-out to victim of Tory spin chief’s “consistent pattern of bullying behaviour”

Today’s Guardian reports the news:

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. “Andy Coulson was at the heart of all of this,” he said. “He should look at himself and decide if his actions in the course of the way I was treated were correct. If I were him, I would find it very hard to look in the mirror. I was subjected to unprecedented bullying and he did nothing to stop it, if anything he accelerated it. I didn’t do anything wrong.” …

The tribunal found in December 2008 that Driscoll had fallen victim to “a consistent pattern of bullying behaviour”. “The original source of the hostility towards the claimant [Driscoll] was Mr Coulson, the editor; although other senior managers either took their lead from Mr Coulson and continued with his motivation after Mr Coulson’s departure; or shared his views themselves. Mr Coulson did not attend the tribunal to explain why he wanted the claimant dismissed.”

Sounds like just the kind of guy you’d want to have heading up your communications office.

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