Nov. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A former editor at News Corp.’s Sun tabloid in Britain said he was wrongfully fired after e-mails “of interest to the police” were found on his computer during an internal probe of phone-hacking by journalists.
Matt Nixson, who worked for News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World tabloid before moving to the Sun, said it would have been “obvious” the claims against him were unfounded if the company had given him a disciplinary hearing required under his employment contract, according to court documents released today. Nixson seeks his 105,000 pound ($165,511) annual salary plus damages based on his claim that he will have difficulty finding work after being tainted by the scandal.
Nixson, who worked at the News of the World from 2005 until moving to the Sun last year, was at least the fifth former employee to sue the New York-based company since the phone- hacking scandal erupted in July and the first to name members of its Management & Standards Committee as defendants.
Had the contract been honored, “it would have been obvious” to the company “that any allegation of gross misconduct could not be substantiated,” he said in the filing. Nixson will now face difficulty “given the stigma attached to his dismissal.”
Nixson first sued in September for unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal in London, his lawyer Gerald Shamash said at the time. Nixson then sued the company again last month at the Royal Courts of Justice, alleging the company breached his contract by dismissing him without explanation.
Simon Greenberg, Will Lewis and Jeffrey Palker, the members of the MSC, are named in Nixson’s lawsuit, along with commercial lawyer Anthony Grabiner, a member of the U.K. Parliament’s House of Lords who was hired to oversee the committee. Nixson claims the committee’s decision to fire him “induced” the contract breach.
News International spokeswoman Daisy Dunlop declined to comment on the cases.
Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World and a former press adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, filed a suit in September when News Corp. stopped paying his legal fees, as did News of the World private investigator Glenn Mulcaire over the same issue in August. Former News of the World chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck filed a wrongful termination suit at an employment tribunal the same month. Ian Edmondson, a former assistant editor at the tabloid, filed a similar claim, according to the Daily Mail.
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The case is Nixson v. News Group Newspapers, High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division, Case No. HQ11X03843
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