Sarah Cliss, of the Cambs Times, spoke to BBC journalist Sally Chidzoy, left, during the latter’s discrimination hearing against the corporation – leading to the presiding judge striking out the case over claims the pair had been discussing proceedings during a break.
Sally was under oath at the time and had been overheard by the BBC’s barrister using the word “Rottweiler” during the chat, which judge Michael Ord said was relevant as it was linked to her evidence.
Part of her case was an email from a BBC manager circulated to other staff suggesting she should cover a story for the Look East programme about the Dangerous Dogs Act and describing her as “Sally Shitsu”.
Sally is currently appealing the decision, and Sarah has now come forward to give her version of events – claiming newsdesk misinformation about the timing of the hearing had been the topic of conversation.
Sarah told the Wisbech standard: “The conversation with Sally was mostly general chit chat about news desks and their inability to give correct details.
“I was late arriving because I was told the tribunal was starting an hour later than it actually did. We were laughing that that was nothing unusual.
“Sally said she was glad that someone was there to cover the tribunal and yes the word Rottweiler was mentioned – but it was me that said it in reference to myself.
“Apart from Sally’s solicitor, who asked me for a written statement at the time, no one from the court or the BBC has asked me about the conversation.”
Sally had argued during the hearing that her discussion with Sarah, who she had “known for years” and was covering the case for the Times’ sister title the Eastern Daily Press, was no more than an exchange of pleasantries.
But, in a written judgement, Judge Michael Ord said it stretched “the bounds of credulity to believe” that Sally had not been speaking to Sarah about the case.