Grabiner faces court hearing

UNITED News & Media has been cleared to take Stephen Grabiner, its former executive, to court at the end of the month in an attempt to prevent him taking up his post as chief executive of British Digital Broadcasting, the pay-TV group.

The April 28 trial date, which was set by a judge at a private hearing yesterday, will stop Mr Grabiner from starting work for his new employers for another three and a half weeks, casting a doubt over BDB's plans to launch a 15-channel service in the autumn.

United has issued a writ to keep Mr Grabiner to the terms of his contract, which includes a 12-month notice period. It has also issued an injunction preventing Mr Grabiner from starting work with his new employer until the issue is resolved. In response, Mr Grabiner is understood to be claiming constructive dismissal by United.

Mr Grabiner announced his departure from United at the end of January. When United and BDB failed to reach an agreement, he walked out of United last month. United immediately took out an injunction.