Rugby star Keith Mason wins High Court damages for bottom photo

hmctsA rugby league star who was sacked from his team last year after a post on Twitter has won his High Court claim for damages.

Mr Keith Mason, former Super League proper for Huddersfield Giants, took his case to the High Court in Leeds after he was sacked by the Super League team Huddersfield Giants last year for a photo of a bottom that appeared on his Twitter profile.

Mr Mason was out drinking with team-mates last year when a photo of a bottom was taken on Mr Mason’s phone by one of his team-mates. Mr Mason’s girlfriend subsequently found the photo and posted it on his Twitter account with the message “what the hell is this?”. This attracted complaints from followers of Mr Mason on Twitter and club supporters and the club therefore asked Mr Mason to take down the photo. Mr Mason attempted to but was unable to do so for two days. Huddersfield Giants then charged Mr Mason with gross misconduct for not deleting the Tweet quickly enough and terminated his contract with immediate effect.

The rugby league star – who was on a salary of £95,000 a year – subsequently took his employer to the High Court in a claim for breach of contract and wrongful dismissal, alleging that the act didn’t constitute gross misconduct, that the club weren’t entitled to summarily dismiss him and that the club had been looking for ways to get his salary off the books prior to the termination of his contract.

The High Court ruled in Mr Mason’s favour in his claim, stating that there was “clear evidence” that the club wanted him off the books and that Mr Mason’s actions could not be construed to be a breach of contract. Mr Mason – who has two caps for Wales – was awarded approximately £167,000 in damages and the club was ordered to pay Mr Mason’s costs for the three-day hearing, which apparently amounted to £35,000.