Lord Sugar’s bid to recover legal costs from former Apprentice winner Stella English has failed, a tribunal panel has ruled.
The tycoon launched a counter claim against Ms English after she lost a constructive dismissal claim against him.
But an East London Tribunal Service panel ruled that the mother-of-two should not have to repay any of the legal fees – which amounted to £50,000.
Ms English wept with joy when he decision was announced. Her lawyer Henry Hendron said: “My client is over the moon the employment tribunal have found in her favour and have dismissed the respondent’s application for substantive costs against her. They have gone further to state that she did not bring the claim against Lord Sugar’s company motivated by malice or by bad intentions, but she genuinely believed that she had a good case as advised by her then lawyers.”
At the initial tribunal hearing, which concluded in April, Ms English claimed that she was forced to resign from the £100,000 a year job that was her prize for winning series six of the BBC One show because ‘it was not a role of substance’.
The hearing was told that Ms English was given a role with Lord Sugar’s IT division Viglen after winning the popular show in 2010. But she resigned in May 2011, claiming her role there was that of an ‘overpaid lackey’. Ms English said she then felt pressured into taking up a new position at Lord Sugar’s internet set-top box company YouView.
Lord Sugar told the tribunal that he was simply trying to help her out because she complained that she was ‘desperate for money’.
Ms English claimed that during an unscheduled meeting with the tycoon, he told her that he would not be renewing her contract so she resigned. She went on to launch a constructive case against him. But her claim was dismissed by the tribunal panel which ruled the case ‘should never have been brought’.
Lawyers representing Lord Sugar today reiterated the statement and made an application to recover some of his legal costs.
But tribunal judge George Foxwell rejected the application saying that Ms English truly believed she had a case. “We found that the claimant believed she had a claim, that she had been advised she had a claim and she pursued it like any other litigant,” he said.
During the proceedings, Ms English said she only has around £200 in her bank account. She said that despite owning three properties she has been forced to apply for housing benefit and is also considering applying for jobseekers allowance.