In this wrongful dismissal case, the High Court held that a senior employee who sent an email containing pornographic images committed a repudiatory breach, which his employer was entitled to rely on for summary dismissal under the employment contract. The unusual aspect to this case is that the email in question was sent more than five years earlier and was only discovered when the employer conducted a successful “fishing exercise” aimed at finding a reason to escape paying the employee for a long notice period. Employers should take care before embarking upon such an exercise themselves as the seniority of the employee and the fact that a recipient of the email was a young female employee significantly influenced the judgment. It was also crucial that the employer did not affirm the contract once the breach came to light. Employers should also note that this was a wrongful dismissal case and therefore that it makes no finding as to whether such dismissal would be unfair.
Williams v Leeds United Football Club  EWHC 376 (QB)