'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."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings