Journalist sacked over Prince George story wins compensation
A BBC journalist has been awarded more than £50,000 compensation after being unfairly dismissed following his failure to report the birth of Prince George.
Chandana Keerthi Bandara worked as a producer providing online news about Sri Lanka. On 23 July 2013, he decided not to publish an article about the prince’s birth and focused instead on a feature about the 30th anniversary of Black July, a period in which thousands of Tamils were killed in Sri Lanka.
Senior management contacted him and he published a story about the birth later the same day. However, he was given a final written warning over the incident, despite having a clean record dating back 18 years.
A year later, he was sacked by his manager Kerry Gonis following allegations that he made derogatory comments about a colleague and shouted at other members of staff.
He sued for unfair dismissal and race discrimination on the basis that he had been targeted by management because of his support for Sri Lankan Tamils.
The Central London Employment Tribunal Service found that although most of the allegations against Mr Bandera had been proved, the final warning he had received had been unfair yet it had a significant influence on his dismissal.
Employment judge Vivienne Gay said: “We are satisfied that Mr Gonis was significantly influenced by the fact that Mr Bandara did not have a clean disciplinary record. That is the final written warning.
“So the dismissal… was unfair. An inappropriate warning played a part in that. But we are satisfied that there was culpable conduct that contributed to the dismissal."
Mr Bandara’s compensation was cut by 50% because his behaviour had contributed to his dismissal. He was therefore awarded £51,428. His race discrimination claim was dismissed.
Please contact Jackie Cuneen if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.