Whitstable star of The Apprentice Stella English wins battle against Lord Sugar over failed tribunal legal costs
Apprentice winner Stella English
A former Kent winner of The Apprentice has been told she does not need to pay Lord Sugar up to £35,000 in legal costs after her claim for constructive dismissal was thrown out.
Stella English, a mother-of-two from Whitstable, was being sued by the tycoon after losing her employment tribunal against him earlier this year.
Lord Sugar launched the legal action because he claimed the 34-year-old deliberately tried to damage his reputation.
Ms English had claimed she was an "overpaid lackey" in a £100,000-a-year job after winning reality show The Apprentice in 2010.
She said she was forced to quit her role after colleagues shunned her because she had won the role through the BBC1 series.
But her case was dismissed in what Lord Sugar described as a victory against "ambulance-chasing lawyers".
The businessman told the employment tribunal Ms English was effectively blackmailing him and was trying to damage his reputation and that of the BBC.
His lawyers went back to the Stratford Employment Tribunal, in east London, yesterday in a bid to recover Lord Sugar's legal fees.
They claimed Ms English only instigated the legal proceedings because she was "bored".
But the panel ruled she should not have to repay any of the money, saying Miss English "truly believed she had a case".
Ms English had revealed to the hearing she has fallen into poverty, with just £200 in the bank, and is trying to claim benefits.
Lord Sugar stars in The Apprentice on BBC One
At the April tribunal, Ms English argued she was "ostracised" by her colleagues and felt her employment was a "sham".
She told how she only saw Lord Sugar five times in her 13 months with his IT company.
Ms English began a three-month trial with Viglen in September 2010 as part of a selection process before she won The Apprentice in December.
"There was no dismissal of the claimant - the claimant resigned..." - tribunal ruling
She continued the job at the firm, which supplies IT equipment to academies.
But she described the role as a "sham" because she was not allocated specific duties and had replaced a woman previously earning £35,000.
Ms English told the tribunal Lord Sugar offered her a role in a different company in June 2011.
However, she said he dropped the "bombshell" he would not renew her contract just three months later.
The tribunal said it "found it difficult to understand why" Ms English resigned from the second firm, YouView, with just a short note to Lord Sugar at the same time she went to the press via publicist Max Clifford.
In a written judgment, the tribunal said: "There was no dismissal of the claimant - the claimant resigned.
"Therefore the complaint of unfair constructive dismissal contrary to section 95 Employment Rights Act 1996 fails and is dismissed."
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