herald

Monday 20 November 2017

Radio boss sacked just before board meeting -- tribunal

The former boss of a radio station that was losing money "hand over fist" was told just five minutes before a board meeting that he was being sacked, a tribunal has heard.

Martin Block (61) was fired as chief executive of Classic Hits 4FM in October 2009 because the station was "heading rapidly for disaster".

He took a case of unfair dismissal against his former employers to the Employment Appeals Tribunal where he was seeking reinstatement to the €150,000-a-year position as well as compensation.

Tom Mallon, the barrister representing the company Choice Broadcasting, stated that while Mr Block was chief executive the company was "bleeding money".

He told the tribunal that a number of contracts were awarded and several positions were filled without proper procedures being followed.

"The company was bleeding money, bleeding cash. Throughout the relevant period, concerns were expressed to Mr Block about a number of things, particularly the awarding of contracts without the appropriate tendering processes and the appointment of persons to particular posts or positions without proper recruitment procedures."

Mr Mallon added that the firm was heavily loss-making "yet still seemed to be spending money in certain areas without any real regard for those losses".

He further claimed that Mr Block and the board had a fundamentally different view as to the role of the chief executive.

"The company will say that Mr Block was not performing his duties in a manner that was acceptable to it," Mr Mallon said.

However, counsel for Mr Block, Ercus Stewart, argued that his client's reputation had been "completely damaged" by his former employer.

Mr Stewart said that when his client asked during the board meeting why he was being sacked, he was told it was for a "myriad of reasons".

"I have not come across a more blatant, obvious, unfair dismissal than the way this was handled," Mr Stewart said.

The tribunal heard that Mr Block had offered his resignation in August 2009 but agreed to stay on. He later wrote to the board seeking reasons for the decision to remove him from his post but received no response.

The dispute was provisionally resolved at the hearing, but a further date was set in March to ensure all issues surrounding the settlement have been fully resolved. Settlement details have been kept confidential.

hnews@herald.ie

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