A former BBC Northern Ireland sports presenter was 100% responsible for his sacking at the corporation, an industrial tribunal has been told.
Co Tyrone man Jerome Quinn, at one time the self-styled face of GAA coverage at BBC NI, has brought claims of unfair dismissal and direct and indirect discrimination following his sacking in March last year on the grounds that he is an Irish Catholic.
In his evidence, Mr Quinn said the sport was sidelined by the BBC after Shane Glynn took over as sports editor. A new “pecking order” imposed by Mr Glynn put GAA at the bottom of the pile and disadvantaged Irish Catholics in the department, he claims.
But in his closing submission yesterday at the end of three weeks of evidence, BBC lawyer Tariq Sadiq said there could be no indirect discrimination because Catholic journalists like Austin O’Callaghan, Mark Sidebottom and Thomas Kane had all furthered their careers as TV reporters under Mr Glynn.
Mr Sadiq said Mr Quinn’s evidence cited Mr Kane as someone who was given preferential treatment over him when he was dropped as the presenter of the station’s coverage of the GAA Championship in August 2008. Mr Sadiq also said that head of radio news Kathleen Carragher, who dealt with Mr Quinn’s sacking, was Catholic, and Mr Glynn was himself from a mixed Catholic/Protestant background.
Mr Sadiq said Mr Quinn’s dismissal was fair and was for gross misconduct after he blogged for two years, criticising BBC coverage of the GAA, making abusive comments about sports personalities and calling for a campaign against the BBC. “Mr Quinn contributed to the extent of 100%,” Mr Sadiq said. “He was posting inappropriate and offensive comments over a period of two years, which he admitted.”
In a closing submission yesterday, Mr Quinn’s advocate Pat Moore said the BBC should have considered alternatives to dismissal and claimed the corporation approached an appeal of the sacking having already decided Mr Quinn would be dismissed, making the process unfair.
“Mr Glynn had brought the matter to a full investigation when it would have been dealt with in a more practical manner,” Mr Moore said. “At no time did Mr Glynn approach the claimant to ask him about his conduct or to ask him to desist from blogging.”
The tribunal panel has retired to make a decision.