Owners of Standard newspapers taken to tribunal by former employee

A FORMER sales director of the Redditch-based Bullivant family newspaper business, publishers of the Redditch, Bromsgrove and Droitwich Standard weeklies, is seeking compensation for unfair dismissal after complaining she felt undermined by the company.

Lesley McWhirter said she was involved in a dispute about a bonus and that after the collapse of the Birmingham Press newspaper in 2010, she was accused of being responsible for the “weakening of Bullivant media”.

Mrs McWhirter also claimed, at Birmingham Employment Tribunal, that the company wanted her to go after serving the Bullivant family for 32 years.

Mrs McWhirter made her accusations as she sought compensation for unfair dismissal against Bullivant Media Ltd of Church Green West, Redditch.

She said the Observer Standard newspaper, for whom she had been sales director, was sold to Bullivant Media Ltd in April 2009 after going into administration and her employment was transferred.

“I did not agree with the new contract, however, which was different from my previous one and a detriment,” she said in her tribunal statement.

“I refused to sign it and was told there would be a meeting to discuss the situation. But it never took place.”

Mrs McWhirter complained her business card was changed from sales director to director of sales and alleged she was constantly excluded from board meetings.

She said Chris Bullivant launched the Birmingham Press newspaper in April 2010 but that it collapsed later that year and she became involved in a dispute over a bonus payment.

She then claims Chris Bullivant’s wife Pat accused her of being “responsible for the weakening performance of the Bullivant media” because of her alleged poor performance.

“I became fed up with the company – they did not not want me to stay.”
Mrs McWhirter said she heard a rumour that a new sales director was to be appointed and said she felt undermined.

She complained she was eventually unfairly dismissed and alleged Mrs Bullivant did not pay her what she was entitled to.

The respondents opposed Mrs McWhirter’s compensation claim and denied she had been dismissed. The firm said she had resigned.

The firm also denied that they wanted her to leave and said they had asked her to stay on.

Tribunal judge David Dimbylow adjourned the hearing to a later date for more evidence.

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