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Veteran editor 'was unfairly dismissed' says tribunal

by Jon Petty A Suffolk newspaper editor lost his job unfairly but not due to his age, an employment tribunal has ruled.

David Hart, 56, left the Haverhill Echo last autumn, as bosses at Anglia Newspapers attempted to make cost savings in the face of falling advertising.

At a tribunal hearing last month, Mr Hart claimed he had been singled-out for redundancy because of his age.

But although this element of his case was rejected, the tribunal decided that the way his redundancy was handled was unfair.

Employment judge David Skinner, who chaired the hearing at Bury St Edmunds, said that Mr Hart’s allegation that he had been a victim of age discrimination was not well founded and had been dismissed.

A complaint that Johnston Press-owned Anglia Newspapers had also infringed dispute resolution rules were also thrown out.

Both sides now face a further hearing at which the tribunal panel will decide on the amount of compensation to be paid to Mr Hart for his unfair dismissal. No date has yet been set for the hearing.

Giving judgement, Judge Skinner said that it was considered that if Anglia Newspapers had acted reasonably in following proper and fair procedures there was a 25pc chance that Mr Hart would have been selected for redundancy anyway, meaning that any compensation will be reduced by 25pc.

During last month’s hearing, Anglia Newspapers managing director Richard Parkinson said that in 2008 the company which publishes a string of weeklies had seen advertising fall by 23pc cent and profits by 50pc.

He said the Echo was the smallest and least profitable of its publications and it was decided after a detailed review that to help reduce costs, production of the newspaper could be overseen by the group editor based at Bury St Edmunds.

Explaining how the redundancy process had been carried out, Mr Parkinson told the tribunal that Mr Hart had been given details of vacancies within the company but he declined to apply for any and said he wanted to remain based at Haverhill.

However Mr Hart said that within four weeks of the end of his 12 week notice period, Anglia Newspapers had announced a further restructuring which created jobs he might have been able to apply for but which had been filled by the company internally.