Former ITV Anglia reporter claims she was on "get rid'' list

A POPULAR face of ITV Anglia has claimed she was targeted on a 'to get rid of list' drawn up by station bosses before being made redundant.

Jo Thewlis

A POPULAR face of ITV Anglia has claimed she was targeted on a 'to get rid of list' drawn up by station bosses before being made redundant.

Rebecca Atherstone, 59, had worked for Anglia TV for 30 years before she lost her job early last year as part of the company's drive to save �40 million from its local news budget.

Mrs Atherstone, who lives in near Felixstowe, appeared at an employment tribunal in Bury St Edmunds yesterday as a witness for her former colleague, Dianne Stradling, who claims she was the victim of age discrimination and unfair dismissal.

She said: “I was clearly on the 'to get rid of list' before it even started.”

Mrs Stradling, 53, who worked as a part-time reporter, was made redundant by bosses at ITV Anglia in February last year.

Most Read

Along with other staff, Mrs Stradling was told her job no longer existed and had to apply for a limited number of posts, as part of a cost-cutting programme, which led to the loss of around 30 jobs.

Mrs Atherstone was also one of the reporters whose job was under threat.

“I knew I would be a prime target and felt terribly depressed about it,” she said. “Should I accept gracefully with a heavy heart or should I fight?

“I realised I couldn't just throw in the towel.”

Despite applying for the new role, Mrs Atherstone was axed in the swathe of redundancies.

She now claims the new roles of 'correspondent' which replaced traditional reporters, were exactly the same.

“We have had a lot of feedback from people in the street that they miss us,” she said. “It is reassuring to know that we are missed by the most important people - the viewers.”

Mrs Atherstone, who had been part of the station's 'family of faces', she had been shocked to hear the news of her redundancy in a five-minute telephone call.

Wendy Pike, a former video journalist at the station, also appeared at the tribunal, claiming the new roles of 'reporters' which replaced her former job were also very similar.

“It all seemed like a 'King and his new Clothes' situation,” she said. “The company are claiming, reportedly, that there were new jobs, but it all seemed the same.”

Mrs Stradling, who lives near Braintree, claimed ITV had pretended her old job was redundant but then handed it to a younger person with a different job title.

“They had already decided they didn't want older, more experienced people, particularly like me,” she said. “They would rather have a far younger person doing my job.”

Ed Williams, acting on behalf of ITV, denied age discrimination, stating Mrs Stradling had been assessed as part of a transparent and robust selection process.

He said: “The reason she wasn't taken on was because she didn't score as highly as the people above her. It wasn't an age reason.”

Mr Williams claimed the new roles were different in that they required more travelling and less research on the part of the new correspondents.

“The allegation the claimant makes that this was a collaboration to make sure she was unsuccessful while a younger applicant was not, is unfounded,” he said.

The tribunal retired to consider its decision to be given at a later date.

Jo.thewlis@eadt.co.uk