BBC sacked secretary who was a 'square peg'

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A SECRETARY sacked by the BBC after refusing to sign an eight-hour-day contract was a 'square peg in a round hole', an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Stella Stillianova, 40, of Sloane Gardens, Chelsea, claims she was dismissed unfairly from her pounds 12,000-a-year job after working long hours to try to be successful - not finishing till 7.30am on one occasion.

Rosalind Grant, a personnel officer, said when Ms Stillianova was transferred to work temporarily as a film clerk she had a bad annual report from her immediate superior. 'We felt that the faults were remediable. We accepted there were faults. We felt Stella was perhaps a square peg in a round hole. But we felt we could rescue the situation.'

Asked why Miss Stillianova was not moved to another department because of a personality clash with her boss, Miss Grant replied: 'Any employer in a different department will just ask why he or she should take this person on.'

Ms Grant conceded to the London tribunal that if Ms Stillianova felt the faults in the report were fabrications then she had every right to feel aggrieved.

Ms Stillianova, a graduate who speaks several languages, argued that her prospects were blighted by the bad report, despite a good one from a previous department.

Christopher Waud, tribunal chairman, suggested that Alan Howden, general manager of the BBC's programme acquisition department, may have acted improperly by deciding to dismiss Ms Stillianova in October 1992, merely on documentation.

The hearing was also told that Ms Stillianova ignored management instructions by working overtime and was banned from the office during her holidays.

Ms Grant said Ms Stillianova's action in working long hours became more and more of a problem.

She was given permission to stay until 7pm to work on her doctorate thesis in film and television studies but was not required to work for the BBC beyond 5.30pm.

The hearing continues tomorrow.