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The Court Has Ruled: Andrej Grah Whatmough Was Illegally Dismissed From RTV

The Labour and Social Court ruled on Monday that the dismissal of the former acting Director-General of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTV), Andrej Grah Whatmough, from his post was unlawful. In dismissing the former Director, the public broadcaster’s Council, headed by Goran Forbici, violated the law. The court also ruled a few years ago that a similar dismissal of Nataša Pirc Musar was unlawful, and the current President of the Republic subsequently received 70 thousand euros in compensation. So, will Whatmough receive the same amount?

Andrej Grah Whatmough, former acting Director-General of the public service broadcaster, was the acting Director of RTV for two and a half years before he was dismissed by the “depoliticised” Council of the national media outlet RTV Slovenia in August last year. The reason given for his dismissal was the alleged financial losses of the institution. He was also accused of depriving RTV Slovenia of 2 million euros because of the early sale of 512,000 shares in the international satellite company Eutelsat.

However, the search for reasons for his dismissal was a sham, as the new Council of the public institution had already promised before coming to power that it would dismiss the acting Director, who was another of the many victims of the purges of the “Janšaists” (supporters of Janez Janša) in the now-“depoliticised” institution. The members of the institute’s Council are also individuals with far-left convictions, coming from various non-governmental organisations and the public administration.

The court’s decision has now also been made official. They have found that the decision of the RTV Council to dismiss Grah Whatmough from his post as acting Director-General of RTV Slovenia was illegal and that the employment relationship was unlawfully terminated.

While the Supreme Court, headed by Miodrag Đorđević, dismissed Whatmough’s similar appeal without grounds, the Labour and Social Court has now upheld his claim.

Will Whatmough also receive financial compensation for being illegally dismissed?

In 2014, the current President of the Republic, Nataša Pirc Musar, was dismissed just a month after being elected Director-General of Radio-Television Slovenia. Musar’s dismissal was unlawful, and a higher court upheld her accusations. She was expecting 215 thousand euros in damages, which would have been the amount of her salary during her term of office, and she also accused the institution of causing her mental anguish. Pirc Musar and RTV Slovenia eventually agreed on a court settlement in the form of a financial compensation of 70 thousand euros.

So, will Andrej Grah Whatmough also get monetary compensation? This question was also posed on social media X by Janez Janša, who pointed out that Pirc Musar was compensated for her termination.

Grah Whatmough’s dismissal happened soon after a surprise visit of the European Commission Vice-President Věra Jourová to the Constitutional Court, after the current Prime Minister Robert Golob’s amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act was suspended by the Constitutional Court judges. After Jourová’s visit, though, they allowed for the act to be implemented. And even though the Supreme Court dismissed Grah Whatmough’s complaint without grounds, the Labour and Social Court has now ruled that the former Director-General of RTV Slovenia was illegally suspended.

The court also decided to rule in favour of the claim of illegality of the dismissal of the Director-General by the new President of the Council of RTV Slovenia, Goran Forbici, because of the wrong method of serving him his termination notice – namely, they decided to do it while Grah Whatmough was on annual leave, and a detective was looking for the Director-General at his home address at the time. The failure to serve him his termination notice was also made into a story in the media by the new politically correctly aligned top brass of RTV Slovenia, in order to discredit Grah Whatmough. However, an employee is not obliged to be at home during annual leave, unlike during sick leave, the court noted. In fact, it should even be expected that an employee would not be at home during his or her annual leave, they warned.

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