Apprentice winner Stella English in court against Sugar

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Apprentice winner Stella English in court against Sugar

Post by Flossie » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:16 am

It may provide weeks of prime-time television coverage and the promise of a £100,000 salary, but a winner of BBC’s The Apprentice has described her role under Lord Sugar as that of an “overpaid lackey”.

Stella English said her employment at Viglen IT was a “sham” and that she only saw Lord Sugar five times during her 13 months there and that the peer said he did not “give a sh*t” when she resigned.

Ms English is claiming constructive dismissal against Lord Sugar, who was present at the employment tribunal as she gave evidence. The company denies the charge.

Ms English won the role by beating 15 other candidates in the BBC1 show in 2010. Yesterday she said that when she was told in October 2011 that her contract would not be renewed she felt she had no choice but to resign.

On the first day of a four-month probationary period that she had to complete alongside Apprentice semi-finalist Chris Bates, Ms English, from Whitstable in Kent, said that: “No specific duties were allocated to me.”

She added: “I was provided with a desk and a phone but that was pretty much it.”

Ms English said her role at the company, which supplies IT equipment to academy schools, mainly consisted of basic administrative tasks. She told the hearing that she was not taken seriously by colleagues, who “ostracised” her because she had taken another woman’s job which had a salary of £35,000.

She added: “The career-enhancing opportunities that The Apprentice position as had been sold simply failed to materialise.”

Before competing on the TV show, Ms English was head of business management at a Japanese bank. She won the final of the sixth series of The Apprentice, broadcast in December 2010.

She told the tribunal that she had told Lord Sugar: “I have tried so hard for so long and it’s not working. I’m an overpaid lackey at Viglen. My pride would not allow me to continue doing it.”

Dressed smartly, in a cream jacket and black trousers, Ms English also told the East London Employment Tribunal Service that she had studied the company’s accounts and found that it only made an £800,000 per year profit, despite having a turnover of £60 million.

She said she e-mailed her boss, Bordan Tkachuk, to ask about the matter and to point out that £1.4 million of projects had not been invoiced, but that he sent her a reply, copying in everyone else in the office.

Ms English cried as she told the court that he had written: “I don’t know what you’re doing but this ain’t how things work round here.”

The Apprentice winner said she e-mailed Lord Sugar to ask to discuss the matter with him, but Mr Tkachuk was present when he arrived to meet her in May 2011. When Lord Sugar asked Mr Tkachuk what he thought of Ms English, he replied: “Nice girl. Don’t do a lot.”

She told the tribunal that she had been offered a role in another company — set-top box firm YouView — which she started in June 2011.

Ms English said: “I decided to take up the position due to pressure from Lord Sugar who gave cause for concern that there might be adverse publicity die to me resigning.”

She said Lord Sugar told her in September 2011 that he would not be renewing her contract and had given her the second role because he didn’t want to harm the integrity of The Apprentice or his own public image, but she said he added: “But the fact is that I don’t give a s**t.”

The hearing continues.

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Post by Flossie » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:24 am

More form the Times

A winner of The Apprentice was an “untrusting and suspicious person” who was full of “conspiracy theories”, Lord Sugar told an employment tribunal yesterday.

Stella English, 34, is suing Lord Sugar for constructive dismissal, claiming that the £100,000 job she won on the BBC show consisted of little more than administrative tasks and being an “overpaid lackey”.

Ms English said that her boss at the peer’s IT firm, Viglen, told her “there is no job” when she started as an employee and that he would “embarrass” her if she raised concerns with Lord Sugar.

Lord Sugar told the tribunal: “I began to think that perhaps the reality of work rather than the glamour of showbusiness was beginning to bite with her. Her time in the limelight was beginning to fade.”

He went on: “In hindsight, I can now see that she was a very untrusting and suspicious person. It was clear to me now that she thought that everyone was out to trick her ... She assumed the whole thing was a charade and I had no interest in her.”

Lord Sugar said it was not true that she told him she thought her role at Viglen was that of an “overpaid lackey”.

“That bit is a complete reconstruction or better described as a figment of her imagination,” he said.

Under cross-examination, Ms English told the East London Employment Tribunal Service that she had thought of leaving the show during a four-month probationary period that she and fellow semi-finalist Chris Bates underwent before Ms English was chosen as winner in December 2010.

Seamus Sweeney, representing Lord Sugar, asked Ms English why she did not complain to Lord Sugar after being told by Bordan Tkachuk, chief executive of Viglen, that: “There is no job.”

Ms English replied: “I was in a trial period to win The Apprentice. What value is there in me going into a company I don’t know and then go and complain about people who have been working there a long time?”

When asked why she did not drop out of the competition, she replied: “It did cross my mind.” But she added: “I still hoped that by not making complaints, in time, I could maybe win them over.”

Ms English asked to see Lord Sugar about her concerns, but was told by Mr Tkachuk before the meeting: “Don’t make me embarrass you.”

After 13 months of employment with Lord Sugar, Ms English was told by the peer in September 2011 that she would not have her contract renewed.

Ms English said: “He said to me, ‘Look, if you think Lord Sugar is s**ting himself and that’s why you’re here, that’s where you’re mistaken — I don’t give a s***. I’ve met my obligations to you. I did it for the BBC and the integrity of the show and a bit of my own PR and a bit of yours too. But the fact is that I don’t give a s***.”

Ms English had quit her job as head of business management at Japanese financial services firm Daiwa Securities to take up the role at Viglen.

Speaking about Mr Tkachuk, her boss at Viglen, Ms English told the tribunal: “It was clear that he didn’t think much of The Apprentice. He didn’t have any real interest in me. He didn’t really particularly want to speak to me.

The hearing continues.

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Post by Flossie » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:32 am


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Post by Flossie » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:54 am

And Richard Littlejohn's personal experiences of being sued by Sugar

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article ... itain.html

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Post by Flossie » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:49 pm

Sugar wins legal action against him from the Times

Lord Sugar vowed today to wage a “personal crusade” to protect businesses from opportunistic employment claims after a former winner of his hit TV show The Apprentice lost a constructive dismissal case against him.

Stella English, 34, won the sixth series of the hit BBC One show in 2010 but sued the Labour peer after resigning from her £100,000 job the following year. She told the East London Tribunal Service last month that she was treated like an “overpaid lackey”.

But in a written judgement, tribunal judge John Warren said that Ms English had not been forced from her post but had decided to resign on two separate occasions. He noted that Lord Sugar had found work for her within his organisation after she resigned from one job halfway through her 12-month contract. The second time she resigned, in October 2011, she sent him a short note before going to the PR agent Max Clifford.

“This was a claim which should never have been brought,” he said.

Reacting to the ruling, Lord Sugar said that the case brought by Ms English had been “tantamount to blackmail”.

He said: “She picked the wrong person here and I do hope that, apart from it being a victory for me, that other business people will start to realise they shouldn’t succumb to this type of blackmail and they should fight it.”

He added that “high-profile victims” such as him are at risk of further claims, urging them to see the cases through rather than settle out of court even though “it may not seem to make commercial sense”.

Lord Sugar said he was shocked to learn of Ms English’s action and described it as an “outrageous claim”, adding: “We looked after her like a baby when she worked for us.”

The businessman, who was ennobled by Gordon Brown in 2009, said he would speak to colleagues in the House of Lords when Parliament sits again.

“I’m going to take it on as a personal crusade,” he said. “The most important thing is asking how we deal with these derisory claims. How do you take on these people, and these ambulance-chasing lawyers?”

He described the tribunal system as a “brilliant thing” but added: “It is designed to assist employees, but unfortunately all good things get abused and this is a classic case of abuse of the system.”

Lord Sugar described Ms English as “a chancer” and a “money-grabber”.

“She really isn’t a nice person,” he added. “She has done herself a complete txtspeak-service here. I don’t know who will employ her now, but whoever does needs to take great care.”

Ms English was given a role with Lord Sugar’s IT division Viglen after winning The Apprentice but resigned in May 2011. She claimed the job was “a sham” and a “PR construct”.

The mother of two, from Whitstable, Kent, said she then felt pressurised into taking up a new position at YouView, Lord Sugar’s set-top box company. He said he was simply trying to help her out as she had complained of being “desperate for money”.

Ms English claimed to the tribunal that during an unscheduled meeting on September 28, 2011, Lord Sugar told her he would not be renewing her contract and she then resigned.

However, the peer said there was no long-term position available at YouView following the end of her 12-month contract and that she had already made it clear she did not want to work at Viglen.

Mr Warren concluded that Ms English was “ill-advised” to continue with the case.

His judgment stated: “We do not find that any of the conduct about which the claimant complains . . . was conduct which destroyed or seriously damaged trust and confidence entitling the claimant to terminate her employment and to claim unfair constructive dismissal.”

The judge also found that Ms English was given a “real job” at Viglen.

“It was a real job with enormous scope for advancement and learning for the claimant who up until then had no experience at all of project management,” he said.

“The Viglen role was specifically selected for the claimant to expand and build on her already acknowledged experience and ability.

“The respondent [Lord Sugar] had gone out of their way to ensure the claimant was placed in a role at YouView from which she could learn new skills, a job which she agreed to and which she enjoyed doing and she acknowledged she liked the work.”

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