Ex-BBC CTO John Linwood "unfairly dismissed", tribunal rules


Former BBC CTO John Linwood, who was sacked over the failure of its 98.4 million Digital Media Initiative (DMI), has won his unfair dismissal claim against the broadcaster.

Linwood was sacked from the CTO's post in July 2013 after work on the DMI was called off in May 2013.

The project aimed to overhaul the way BBC staff used, developed and shared multimedia material by introducing a tapeless system, but was shut down before it became operational.

Linwood went on to pursue legal action against the BBC on the grounds that he was unfairly dismissed, and made a "scapegoat" for the multi-million write down the corporation had to absorb as a result of DMI's canning.

A series of hearings for the case took place in May and June, and heard evidence to suggest the DMI project was already struggling before Linwood took the job of CTO in April 2009.

An employment tribunal judgement, dated yesterday, "unanimously" backs Linwood's claim that he was unfairly dismissed and that his conduct contributed just 15 per cent towards his own dismissal.

In a statement to IT Pro, Linwood reiterated his claim about being made a "scapegoat" by the BBC for the failure of DMI and described the past year as "horrendous" for him.

"I was told to resign or be put through a disciplinary process and face dismissal. I refused to resign because I had not committed any act of misconduct," the statement reads.

"The employment tribunal has now found that the allegations made against me were general, vague, broad in nature and non-specific' and virtually impossible to address in any practical way' and that my summary dismissal was profoundly, procedurally and substantively unfair.

"The Tribunal found that the entire BBC Executive was well aware of the problems of DMI throughout and that I was reporting factually through the appropriate channels," it adds.

In a further statement to the Guardian about the case, a BBC spokesperson said the tribunal was the result of a "difficult set of circumstances" for the corporation.

"We had a major failure of a significant project, and we had lost confidence as the tribunal acknowledges in John Linwood. At the time we believed we acted appropriately.

"The tribunal has taken a different view we are disappointed with the outcome, but nevertheless we will learn lesson from the judgement and we're grateful to staff who were involved in deadling with a very difficult case," it concludes.

A decision on the compensation Linwood will receive as a result of the outcome of the tribunal is expected in due course.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.