'Tantamount to blackmail': Apprentice winner Stella English is the loser over dismissal claim

Lord Sugar vows to crusade against claim culture

Legal Affairs Correspondent

Lord Sugar accused Stella English of being a money grabber who had tried to blackmail him after the former winner of The Apprentice lost her constructive dismissal case against the multi-millionaire today.

In characteristic combative terms, Alan Sugar described the young businesswoman as a “chancer” who had underestimated her opposition.

Ms English, 34, took a case against the Labour peer after resigning from the £100,000-a-year job that she was awarded after winning series six of the BBC1 show in 2010. She claimed the job was a PR sham and she was treated like an "overpaid lackey".

But today, in a damning judgement, tribunal judge John Warren said that Ms English, instead of appreciating a job with enormous scope for advancement, had been more interested in a glamorous role, travelling in private jets.

"This was a claim which should never have been brought,” said Judge Warren.

Describing Ms English’s “outrageous claim” as "tantamount to blackmail", Lord Sugar said today: "She really isn't a nice person. She has done herself a complete disservice here. I don't know who will employ her now, but whoever does needs to take great care."

"I'm afraid she underestimated me and her reputation is now in tatters. I have principles and I am not going to be forced to compromise them, no matter how much time and money they might cost me,” he added.

The millionaire businessman said he would now make it his personal crusade to take on claim culture and such “derisory” cases.

Ms English was given a role with Lord Sugar's IT division Viglen after winning The Apprentice but resigned in May 2011, complaining that she was simply an "overpaid lackey"', an accusation her former boss strongly denied.

The mother of two, from Whitstable, Kent, told East London Tribunal Service that she then felt pressured into taking up a new position at Lord Sugar's internet set-top box company YouView. He, however, said that he had simply helped her out as she had complained of being "desperate for money".

Ms English claimed to the tribunal that during an unscheduled meeting on 28 September 2011, Lord Sugar told her he would not be renewing her contract and she then resigned.

However, the peer insisted there was no long-term position available at YouView following the end of her 12-month contract and that she had already made it clear she did not want to work at Viglen.

In the judgement yesterday, Judge Warren said: “The tribunal believes that the reality was that the claimant had in her mind that having won The Apprentice the role would be much more glamorous and that she would be working alongside Lord Sugar as his assistant. In evidence the Claimant said she knew that previous winners had accompanied Lord Sugar in his private jet!!”

In the tribunal panel's view, it was made "abundantly clear" to Ms English that she would not be working directly under Lord Sugar.

"It was a real job with enormous scope for advancement and learning for the claimant who up until then had no experience at all of project management," the judge said of her post at Viglen, adding: "The respondent (Lord Sugar’s company) had gone out of their way to ensure the claimant was placed in a role at YouView from which she could learn new skills, a job which she agreed to and which she enjoyed doing and she acknowledged she liked the work." 

The judgement added: "There was no dismissal of the claimant - the claimant resigned. Therefore the complaint of unfair constructive dismissal contrary to section 95 Employment Rights Act 1996 fails and is dismissed."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops
films
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'
TVGrace Dent thinks we should learn to 'hug a Hooray Henry', because poshness is an accident of birth
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
art

Presents unwrapped, turkey gobbled... it's time to relax

Arts and Entertainment
Convicted art fraudster John Myatt
art

News
The two-year-old said she cut off her fringe because it was getting in her eyes
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

£60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game