ABC News must pay 2.3 million pounds dismissed reporter

An employment tribunal ruled Friday that ABC News unfairly dismissed one of its correspondents because he refused to go to Iraq. The tribunal ruled for former corespondent Richard Gizbert, who claimed ABC News ended his freelance contract last year because he would not go to Iraq. The American network says that all assignments to war zones and other dangerous areas are voluntary.

Gizbert is seeking 2.3 million pounds (US$4 million; Ђ3.4 million) in compensation, which the tribunal plans to rule on early next year. The court rejected ABC News' contention that its dismissal of Gizbert was not linked to his refusal to cover wars, but came because he was inessential and it was making severe cutbacks.

It said testimony by ABC News executives was at times inconsistent and "not entirely reliable." "This ruling amounts to a vindication for an individual, it amounts to an indictment for one particular company, ABC News/Disney, and it's a warning to other news organizations that your voluntary war zone policy has to mean what it says," Gizbert said.

ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said network officials were still reading the decision and would consider their options. "Mr. Gizbert was not dismissed because he wouldn't go to a war zone," Schneider said. "As we said throughout the tribunal, ABC News' long-standing policy is and always will be that assignments to war zones and other dangerous places are completely voluntary", reportes the AP. N.U.

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