Ex BBC journalist sacked over Lanka report wins payout

bbc_logo-large_transqvzuuqpflyliwib6ntmjwqrgcjtqvz3zb6uu0aauhtqA BBC journalist has won a £50,000 payout for being sacked after prioritising a report on Sri Lankan politics over the birth of Prince George, the Telegraph reported today.

Chandana Keerthi Bandara, 57, lost his job as a producer on a BBC Sri Lankan news service, and sued the BBC for unfair dismissal and race discrimination.

He had worked for the BBC for 18 years and had been a senior producer on the Sinhala service since 2000. Mr Bandara was in charge of publishing stories on July 23, 2013, the day after Prince George was born.

But he decided not to prioritise the royal birth story, partly, he said, because it was the 30th anniversary of Black July, a brutal period which saw thousands of Tamil people killed in Sri Lanka.

A tribunal heard how Bandara resisted management pressure to cover the story, but eventually relented. The article was published online at 12.08pm, a tribunal was told.

Despite a clean record in his 18 years at the company, after disciplinary proceedings, Mr Bandara was found to have been guilty of gross misconduct and given a final written warning.

He was sacked just over a year later on August 15, 2014 after further allegations against his behaviour were made.

Among several other allegations of misconduct, he was accused of making a derogatory reference to a colleague and shouting at others.

The vast majority of these allegations were either proved or partially proved, but the tribunal ruled that the unfair final written warning, given for the dispute over the Royal story, played a large part in the dismissal decision.

Mr Bandara claimed he was unfairly targeted because of his views on the Tamil people being persecuted by the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka.

A tribunal heard how Chandana, who has a Sinhalese father and Tamil mother, worked with a team who were mainly of Sinhalese heritage.

Bandara was unsuccessful in his claims for race discrimination, but a tribunal found the final written warning was too severe a punishment, for an employee with such a good record, describing it as “manifestly inappropriate”. (Colombo Gazette)