3 Jul 2009

Journalist claims unfair dismissal amid drug rumour

5:48 pm on 3 July 2009

An award-winning journalist says he has been unfairly dismissed amid rumours he was dealing the drug methamphetamine from the newsroom's toilets.

Stephen Cook, a former assistant editor at the Herald on Sunday, was dismissed in December last year and is seeking financial compensation for what he calls his lost career.

The matter is being heard by the Employment Relations Authority in Auckland.

The relationship between Mr Cook and the newspaper's editor Shayne Currie began to break down after two officers from the Auckland drug squad went to the newsroom to speak with him.

Mr Currie told the hearing on Friday that he lost confidence in Mr Cook following explanations he gave for visiting a Mt Wellington address which was under police surveillance.

Mr Cook says false rumours that he was dealing methamphetamine, also known as the drug "P", led to his eventual dismissal.

He says there was a vendetta against him at the company, APN, which made it impossible to return to work as a journalist.