A media director has been ordered to pay nearly £16,500 to a former member of staff at a newspaper publisher who was unfairly dismissed before he took over the company.
Duncan Williams, who bought the West Country-based View From series from Peter Masters in January 2018, has apologised to the company’s accountant Anita Routley after she was awarded compensation at an employment tribunal.
According to Devon Live, Mrs Routley was unanimously adjudged to have been unfairly dismissed and her compensation includes a basic award, loss of earnings and unpaid employee’s pension contributions.
At a tribunal hearing last year it was decided Mr Masters, who made all staff redundant on 4 January due to the titles ceasing publication, was not liable for claims of staff still awaiting pay in lieu of notice, redundancy money and arrears of pay.
It was instead decided that all right, powers, duties and liabilities had transferred to Mr Williams, pictured, who bought View From on 16 January.
Responding to the judgement, Mr Williams said: “Mrs Anita Routley had been dismissed by the previous proprietor of the Sunday Independent Ltd prior to my taking over as the director.
“Consequently I had never actually met Anita, the company’s Lyme Regis-based accountant, prior to the court hearing and judgement recently held in Exeter.
“However, I had always felt she had been treated appallingly. Anita had worked as a local newspaper accountant for many years. She had been fired only a week before Christmas Day and without warning or reason. It was totally unacceptable.
“Although I was the respondent in the case, I did not challenge Mrs Routley’s version of events. I can only apologise on behalf of the company and the behaviour of the previous proprietor.”
Speaking to HTFP, he added: “None of this sways my faith in regional media. Now more than ever I believe the UK needs strong local journalism and community media brands that people can interact with.”
When asked for his response to the judgement, Mr Masters told Devon Live: “The reality is the tribunal was last year, which I attended, and I was dismissed after the tribunal looked at all the papers and files so I can’t comment really.
“How Duncan Williams runs his business is a matter for him.”