Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Sacked presenter's claims rejected

Claims of sectarian bias by Jerome Quinn were rejected by an industrial tribunal

The former so-called face of Gaelic games at BBC Northern Ireland has been accused of being disingenuous, misleading and evasive by an industrial tribunal which rejected his claims of sectarian bias.

Jerome Quinn, 42, was sacked last March for gross misconduct after posting anonymous criticism of the corporation's coverage on websites.

He claimed he saw himself as a "standard-bearer" for the sport and alleged his dismissal was unfair and an act of victimisation because of his race, religion or political opinion.

But in a damning ruling, a tribunal panel chaired by Orla Murray said his claims of discrimination and unfair dismissal should be denied in their entirety.

A report said: "The claimant also gave misleading evidence in the form of statistics in his apparent determination to paint an adverse picture of Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) coverage by BBC Sport Northern Ireland when the actual evidence before us did not support that case."

Mr Quinn's statistics at a tribunal hearing in Belfast compared coverage at a time when football and rugby were in full swing and the GAA not.

The tribunal said at several points Mr Quinn, from Omagh, Co Tyrone, was evasive when being questioned on points which were not supportive of his case. In contrast he gave very precise evidence on points which he felt were supportive of his case.

The tribunal said: "We assessed the claimant to have been disingenuous at various points in his evidence."

Mr Quinn was suspended in February last year after his criticism of the BBC's GAA coverage was discovered by an internal investigation. He had been with the BBC in Belfast for 17 years. The tribunal found that he was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct.

One of Mr Quinn`s complaints surrounded BBC coverage of GAA matches. However airtime for soccer and rugby had decreased according to the tribunal, while that of the GAA has increased substantially in line with the winning or losing of broadcast rights for those sports, and depending on how successful the teams were.

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