Lord Sugar has described a claim of unfair dismissal by Apprentice winner Stella English as “a derisory attempt to smear my name and extract money from me” after it was dismissed by an employment tribunal today.
Sugar called the decision a “victory for the law against the claim culture”, accusing English of a “charade” based on “her need for money and fame”.
English won the 2010 series of BBC business reality show The Apprentice, landing a £100,000-a-year job with Lord Sugar’s technology company Viglen. But she subsequently resigned, branding the role “a sham” and “a PR construct” and claiming she had been nothing more than an “overpaid lackey”.
English was given a new position at internet set-top box company YouView, of which Lord Sugar was chairman, but later said she had felt pressurised into taking the job.
She told the tribunal that at a meeting in September 2011, Lord Sugar said he would not be renewing her contract and did not “give a s***” – a comment the Labour peer claimed was not aimed at her but was a reference to the prospect of the story being picked up by the press.
The employment tribunal said English’s claim of unfair dismissal did not stand up as she had resigned from her post, rather than having been sacked. A written judgement released today said: “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.”
Lord Sugar told the tribunal he was being repaid for his generosity by “having to come here and humiliate myself in front of the national media”, adding “I’m here because I have principles and I’m not just going to pay off people.
“When her instructing solicitor heard my name, it must have been ‘Ding, ding, ding – jackpot!”
34-year-old mother of two English left her job in banking to take part in The Apprentice, where Lord Sugar described her as “well-liked and determined to get on with whatever you’re asked to do”.
Following the statement from the tribunal, Lord Sugar took to Twitter to share the news and to thank his legal team.