Sacked Olympus boss Woodford starts fight against unfair dismissal
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Monday 28 May 2012
Michael Woodford, the British whistleblower sacked from Japanese cameras and endoscopes giant Olympus, begins his multi-million-pound unfair dismissal case against the company at a London tribunal today.
Woodford, who was the first westerner to work his way up to the top of a Japanese company, is to sue for up to 10 years' lost pay, citing UK laws on unfair dismissal for whistleblowing and discrimination. He was ousted from his job as chief executive after questioning the board about a $1.7bn (£1.1bn) fraud. Rather than act on his concerns, the Olympus board unanimously voted to sack him.
His legal team will argue that he should be able to take his legal action in the UK because he remained an employee of Olympus' UK division despite being based in Tokyo. The hearing is scheduled for five days. Olympus sacked Woodford at a board meeting at which he was banned from speaking.
He was ordered to quit his apartment and take the bus to the airport. Rather than head directly to the airport as instructed, Woodford had a clandestine meeting with a journalist in a Tokyo park, handed over documents and told his story.
At first, Olympus said he had been sacked because he did not understand the company's culture, but less than a day later, the fraud was uncovered and criminal investigations were launched in Japan, the US and the UK.
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