ABC Wins in "War Zone" Reversal


An appeal tribunal has sided with ABC News in the ongoing employment case of former London-based correspondent Richard Gizbert. The appeal tribunal today in London rejected Gizbert's claim that he was dismissed because he refused to go to a war zone. Gizbert was initially awarded some $180,000 in July on the claim that he was dismissed for turning down two assignments in the Middle East.

The appellate tribunal found that ABC News "operated a voluntary war zones policy" and that Gizbert "was under no obligation, contractual or otherwise, to visit war zones." Their decision reverses an initial ruling in Gizbert's favor in Dec. 2005. He had sought 2.2 million pounds in Sept. 2005 at an employment tribunal in London after he was let go from his freelance position at the network in 2004. ABC had said that the network did not pressure Gizbert to go to Iraq, but let him go due to his inflexibility and pay rate.

"At ABC News, we have always adhered to the inviolable principle that coverage of news stories involving personal risk is strictly voluntary," said David Westin, President of ABC News in a statement.

"We've made it abundantly clear that there will be no consequences for those who decline to enter war zones in pursuit of the news, and we're very pleased that today's court decision confirms our longstanding policy and soundly rejects any claim to the contrary."

The tribunal further found that ABC News "takes safety seriously," seeking advice from health and safety consultants and supplying employees with proper equipment for war zones. Gizbert will now not receive the money he was awarded.

Gizbert joined ABC News in July 2003 as a correspondent in the London bureau and decided to go freelance with the network in 2002. He is now working for Al-Jazeera International.