DJ loses fight for ‘wages’

Les Watts
Les Watts

A DJ says he is disappointed after he lost a court battle for money he claimed he was owed by a community radio station.

Les Watts took Radio Hartlepool bosses to court claiming they owed him £1,650 in unpaid wages.

He worked for the station for two years but disappeared from the airwaves last November over the pay dispute.

Mr Watts, 48, claimed the station agreed to pay him £110 a week wages when cash was available.

He left the station, where he presented the weekday breakfast show and Saturday sport, 15 weeks later when the money was not paid.

Mr Watts took the case to court but lost because a judge at Teesside County Court said he did not have anything in writing to back up the arrangement.

The court heard he previously had problems getting paid and was owed £660 for six weeks work by the end of July last year.

He later agreed to waive the debt after a meeting with station bosses and agreed to start afresh on the £110 a week agreement.

Mr Watts, who attended the hearing with his wife Jackie, 48, said: “My understanding following the meeting was in any event I was going to get paid.

“I understood I wasn’t going to get it weekly. It may have taken several weeks or months but I was definitely getting paid.”

Radio Hartlepool managers said Mr Watts worked for them as a volunteer and insisted the payment was dependent on the station successfully getting grant funding which did not come through.

James Anderson, a director for Hartlepool Community Broadcasting, which runs the station, based in York Road, Hartlepool, said: “Any payment was subject to the grant coming through. It was never ever a sure thing that we would get that grant. Although we expected it, it didn’t arrive.”

The station applied to Hartlepool Borough Council for £20,000 but was unsuccessful.

Deputy district judge James Baird told Mr Watts: “I’m not satisfied there was an agreement to pay you in any event.

“I think the evidence I have heard and the statements filed do suggest that this was a contingency arrangement.”

Speaking after the case Mr Watts, of Oxford Road, Hartlepool, said: “I’m disappointed with the outcome.

“I didn’t ask for anything in writing because I thought they were our friends.

“It’s unfortunate and I will treat it as a learning curve.”

Mr Anderson said afterwards: “The outcome is what we expected. It is unfortunate it had to come to this and had to come to court.”