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Musician receives £73,000 compensation for unfair dismissal

A musician who said he'd been subjected to harassment and bullying at work for several years has been awarded £73,000 compensation for unfair dismissal.

Murray Johnston was principal oboist with the Welsh National Opera for 34 years but was sacked in 2008. The company said his playing had fallen below the high standards required.

However. Mr Johnston claimed the dismissal followed 16 years of bullying and harassment by the company's musical director at the time, Carlo Rizzi. He said the problems began after he asked Mr Rizzi to stop singing during a rehearsal.

Mr Johnston's claim of unfair dismissal was rejected by an employment tribunal but he later won his case in the Court of Appeal. It ruled that his dismissal had involved procedural unfairness. It referred the case back to the tribunal which has now awarded Mr Johnston £73,000. Welsh National Opera has also been ordered to pay his legal costs.

Mr Johnston said afterwards that he hoped the ruling would strike a blow for others. He said: "It was a test case as far as the musical profession was concerned, it means that managers basically can't just drive a cart and horses through their own contracts if they feel like parting company with one of their members."

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