Sugar worker 'used media as weapon'
Published 12/03/2013 | 15:26
Lord Sugar feels "wronged" by the former Apprentice winner suing him for constructive dismissal and believes she is trying to damage his reputation, an employment tribunal has heard.
Stella English, 34, claims she was treated as an "overpaid lackey" after being handed a £100,000 contract for winning series six of the BBC1 show in 2010.
Lord Sugar, however, told the East London Tribunal Centre he has no case to answer and that Stella is effectively blackmailing him.
Giving legal submissions today, Lord Sugar's representative Seamus Sweeney said: "The claimant has, in the eyes of Lord Sugar, deliberately courted the media with a view of damaging his reputation."
He told how Stella had "sold her story" to the press several times and accused her of being a "headline-grabber", deliberately sensationalising aspects of her evidence.
Referring to yesterday's sentencing of former Lib Dem cabinet member Chris Huhne, Mr Sweeney said Lord Justice Sweeney - who is no relation to him - described how Vicky Pryce using the media as a weapon. He told the tribunal the same was true of Stella, adding: "Using the media, in this case, was a weapon of choice... It was a first weapon of choice.
"On the contrary, Lord Sugar has maintained his position, his dignity, until he comes here. He can be forgiven in these circumstances for reacting passionately in his cross-examination because he feels wronged."
Lord Sugar, who gave evidence to the hearing last week, had admitted losing his cool when questioned about what he described as "derisory actions".
Philippa Jackson, representing Stella, said Lord Sugar was "angry" at being sued, having publicly denounced "claim culture" during the tribunal. "He's not going to be seen to be backing down," she said. "He doesn't think much of employees running off and complaining - they should get on with it."
The hearing has finished and the tribunal will make its decision within a month. If there is to be a remedy hearing, depending on the verdict, it will take place on April 22.