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ITV reporter loses tribunal case

PUBLISHED: 11:12 16 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:04 30 June 2010

An experienced news reporter made redundant by ITV Anglia has lost her claim for unfair dismissal on grounds of age discrimination.

Dianne Stradling, 53, was made redundant in February last year as part of a round of cuts that also saw presenter Clare Weller and veteran reporter John Francis leave the station.

An experienced news reporter made redundant by ITV Anglia has lost her claim for unfair dismissal on grounds of age discrimination.

Dianne Stradling, 53, was made redundant in February last year as part of a round of cuts that also saw presenter Clare Weller and veteran reporter John Francis leave the station.

About 30 jobs - a third of Anglia's workforce - were cut as part of a national plan by ITV to save £40m by axing more than 400 posts across its regional news service.

Mrs Stradling had worked for Anglia for 18 years. Under the restructuring process, she was told her job was being made redundant but that she was eligible to apply for the new role of “correspondent”.

The tribunal at Bury St Edmunds heard that 18 people applied for the jobs. Each was given a score, and the top seven candidates were appointed. Mrs Stradling was ranked ninth and did not get a job.

She appealed, complaining that the correspondent role was effectively the same job she has previously done and that the selection process had been entirely subjective.

She also claimed there should have been a requirement for a journalistic qualification and that the process was weighted in favour of colleagues based in Norwich.

Mrs Stradling maintained that the selection was based on age and favouritism, in particular that her boss David Jennings, then Anglia's head of news, preferred people that would not argue with him.

But a panel of three rejected her claims after hearing that those appointed ranged in age from 28 to 55, and of the seven, three were over 40 and four under 40.

“The bare fact of a difference in age and a difference in treatment does not go far enough to establish a prima facie case,” it concluded.

The tribunal found ITV News Group had not carried out an unfair process and had acted reasonably.

Mrs Stradling, who lives near Witham, said: “I'm disappointed, although it was an expected outcome. I do feel that the fact they have managed to just about stay within the letter of the law doesn't detract from the fact that any person watching Anglia News today knows most older women have been replaced by much younger women.

“There are no women at all over 50 and there are a lot of young women in their 20s. I felt it was important to fight this. A lot of people thought it was brave but I'm not sure why it should be considered brave to challenge what you see as a major injustice.

“I felt the people responsible should be made to face up to public challenge over what they have done.”

An ITV spokesman said: “We're pleased that the claims have been dismissed and that ITV's processes and procedures have stood up to scrutiny.”

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