'Culled' newsman loses sex bias case

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A former Sunday Express news executive lost his claim for sex discrimination, despite his boss acting "as if there were no restrictions on her powers at all". Graham Jones, 44, was sacked in January after the new editor had been in place two weeks. Mr Jones, who was assistant editor (news), claimed she organised "a cull of middle-aged males".

Explaining why the tribunal had thrown out his claim on grounds of sex, the chairman, Ian Lamb, said that though the circumstances of his sacking were "utterly irrational", evidence from Express Newspapers had been "very candid.

The editor, Sue Douglas, considered Mr Jones was just not a person she wanted to work with. "In considering the effects of accepting the evidence we have had to consider whether there was an agenda on the part of Miss Douglas to replace men with women. The statistical evidence shows that on December 31, 1995 there were 21 reporters, five of whom were women. By May 1, 1996, there were 30 reporters, 10 of whom were women. The proportion of women has therefore risen from less than a quarter to one third, which we do not consider shows a bias in favour of women."

Discussing Mr Jones's replacement, Mr Lamb added: "The editor's preference for women is not borne out by her choice of Richard Ellis as Mr Jones's replacement."

Mr Lamb said it was hard to understand the circumstances after Miss Douglas's appointment. "She was a person who was hiring and firing with complete disregard to the laws or good employment practice. She operated as if there were no restrictions on her powers at all. We do not think she paused long enough to assemble an agenda, except to consider who she wanted around her.

Express Newspapers have admitted unfair dismissal and the Croydon tribunal will adjourn for the parties to agree on a compensation package.