E-mail was 'not racist or sexist'
AN E-MAIL which cost a top TXU Energi manager his £98,000-a-year job in Ipswich was neither sexist or racist, an employment tribunal has been told.The claim was made by colleagues of former national sales manager Bob Clarke who appeared before the hearing in Bury St Edmunds yesterday to defend their boss.
AN E-MAIL which cost a top TXU Energi manager his £98,000-a-year job in Ipswich was neither sexist or racist, an employment tribunal has been told.
The claim was made by colleagues of former national sales manager Bob Clarke who appeared before the hearing in Bury St Edmunds yesterday to defend their boss.
The final day of the hearing went ahead despite no-one from TXU or the administrators now handling the affairs of the financially troubled company turning up.
Tribunal chairman Brian Mitchell said: "It is an extremely unsatisfactory way for the respondents to have conducted themselves in this case".
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Mr Mitchell added: "We were presented with no evidence whatsoever by them to prevent this being proceeded with."
He ruled that the hearing should go ahead as planned.
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Mr Clarke is due to learn today what conclusion the three member tribunal panel has reached on his claims that he was unfairly dismissed and suffered breach of contract.
The e-mail that led to Mr Clarke being dismissed in March last year had been originally sent to him by his son Rikki, a Surrey county cricketer who was playing in South Africa.
It showed two naked woman and carried the headline "Why the Arabs hate us".
Mr Clarke, 42, who now lives in Magor, Gwent, passed it on to six work colleagues, one of whom reported it to managers as being in breach of company rules on sexist or racial material.
When the tribunal opened in October, Mr Clarke flatly denied he was either sexist or racist and insisted that the contents of the e-mail had only ever been intended as a joke.
Fellow TXU Direct Sales worker Jason Wilks said that he had not considered it to be offensive within the "laddish culture" that had existed at the company's sales office in Ipswich.
Mr Wilks admitted that he too had sent "jokey" e-mails to other workers but never intended any offence. He said: "It is a social interaction".
He also cast doubt on TXU's claims at the opening of the case in October that it had been made very clear to staff what the policy was on the contents of e-mails.
Another colleague, James Dyer, denied that the contents of the e-mail sent by Mr Clarke was intentionally offensive.
He said: "As long as it's not pornographic I don't see any problem"
Barrister Wayne Beglan, for Mr Clarke, said it appeared that TXU had failed to properly follow its own disciplinary procedures and that the one-off complaint involving Mr Clarke had not been fully investigated.