Former Sunday Express critic makes Employment Tribunal claim over discrimination

MoJA former critic for a popular newspaper has complained to a tribunal that he was the victim of discrimination at his former employer after he was allegedly sacked over naked photos of him that became public.

Mr Mark Shenton, a theatre critic who worked at the Sunday Express for eleven years, made his claims for unfair dismissal and sexual orientation discrimination to the Employment Tribunal after he alleged that he had been sacked earlier this year because of naked photos of him that had appeared on a gay website.

The former theatre critic wrote in his blog on 15 December 2013 that he believed that he had been sacked from his job at the Sunday Express because a number of naked photos of him had appeared on a gay website. He alleged that the newspaper had been tipped off by a “malicious third party” and that the editor of the Sunday Express, Martin Townsend, had described the photos as “embarrassing”.

Since being dismissed from his job, Mr Shenton has made an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and direct sexual orientation discrimination, claiming that he would not have been dismissed if the website that the photos had appeared on was not a gay website.

Mr Shenton’s Employment Tribunal claim commenced at the South London Employment Tribunal this week. His lawyer commented on the proceedings: “We believe that the dismissal of Mr Shenton was a callous step to take against a loyal, hard-working member of staff of 11 years…¬†Rather than support him, the Sunday Express compounded the actions of this malicious complainant by dismissing him despite the pictures being historic, published without his consent, and not being publicly available through basic web searches.”

Chris Hadrill, a specialist employment solicitor at Redmans Solicitors, commented on the case: “Businesses must take particular care not to discriminate against or harass employees because of a protected characteristic that the employee or some other connected third party possesses – if an employee is discriminated against because of a protected characteristic then this can not only lead to an expensive and time-consuming Employment Tribunal claim but also to embarrassing publicity.”

The Employment Tribunal claim continues and a judgment is expected later this year.