Apprentice's Stella English loses Sugar dismissal case
- 12 April 2013
- From the section Kent
A former winner of TV's The Apprentice has lost her claim for constructive dismissal against Alan Sugar.
Stella English, 34, who earned £100,000 a year, claimed she had no real role at Lord Sugar's IT firm, Viglen.
Lord Sugar told the employment tribunal at the East London Tribunal Centre he had no case to answer and Ms English was effectively blackmailing him.
Following the unanimous ruling in his favour, he tweeted: "A victory for the law against the claim culture."
In a written judgment, Judge John Warren said: "This was a claim which should never have been brought.
"There was no assurance or suggestion that the winner would receive direct mentoring from Lord Sugar.
"The claimant was clear herself about this - she knew full well the job she (would) do at Viglen when she accepted the prize. She told the nation on the BBC Breakfast TV show."
He said Ms English had the wrong idea about how glamorous the role would be and had stated in her evidence that she believed previous winners of the show "had accompanied Lord Sugar in his private jet".
"The tribunal believes that the claimant had in her mind that having won The Apprentice the role would be much more glamorous and that she would be working alongside Lord Sugar as his assistant," Mr Warren said.
Ms English, from Whitstable, Kent, told the tribunal she was given a desk and a phone but no specific duties during a four-month probationary period.
She said her boss Bordan Tkachuk looked at her with "contempt" on her first day and said: "There is no job."
Ms English said she carried out basic administrative tasks but did not say anything to Lord Sugar because she "did not want to be a troublemaker".
'Derisory smear attempt'
The 2010 Apprentice winner resigned from Viglen in May 2011 and then felt pressurised into taking up a new position at Lord Sugar's internet set-top box company YouView, she told the hearing.
Lord Sugar said he was trying to help her out by offering her a new position because she had complained of being "desperate for money".
The judge found that Ms English was given a "real job" at Viglen, with "enormous scope for advancement and learning".
"The Viglen role was specifically selected for the claimant to expand and build on her already acknowledged experience and ability," he said.
"The respondent (Lord Sugar) had gone out of (his) way to ensure the claimant was placed in a role at YouView from which she could learn new skills, a job which she agreed to and which she enjoyed doing."
In a statement after the tribunal's judgement, Lord Sugar said: "There was never a case for us to answer but her need for money and fame meant that the whole system was subjected to this charade.
"I have been cleared of a derisory attempt to smear my name and extract money from me.
"The allegations were without substance, and I believe this case was brought with one intention in mind - the presumption that I would not attend the tribunal, that I would not testify and that I would settle out of court, sending Ms English on her way with a tidy settlement.
"I'm afraid she underestimated me and her reputation is now in tatters."