[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Evans' expensive drinking binge
Chris Evans
Evans admitted to being hung over most mornings
Chris Evans has lost his unfair dismissal case against Virgin Radio following evidence that he went on a drinking binge while claiming to be too ill to work.

For several years in the 1990s, radio DJ and TV presenter Chris Evans was the UK's most popular and successful media star.

After finding fame on Channel 4's Big Breakfast, he went on to host shows on BBC Radio 1 and Virgin Radio - the latter he liked so much that he bought the station in 1997.

But he lost his controlling stake in Virgin when he sold his Ginger Media company to Scottish Media Group (SMG) in a 220m deal three years later.

After getting used to being his own boss, he could not accept his new status as an employee, SMG told London's High Court during the protracted hearing.

Bobby Hain, an executive who became Mr Evans' boss, said: "He seemed unable to have a proper presenter/programme director relationship with either myself or [programme director] Paul Jackson."

Evans admitted in court that he was often hung over as he presented his show, even drinking on air on one programme.

"I have done most of my shows hung over. It was my normal working zone," he said.

He would not do what Virgin Radio's management reasonably required him to do as a presenter of a national radio breakfast show
Geoffrey Vos QC
Representing SMG
But the station said it had to put up with his behaviour because he was their top DJ and as they did not want to run the risk of him walking out.

SMG also accused Evans of bringing the station into disrepute with his "destructive" behaviour, effectively costing it 20m through lost revenue and audiences.

Evans' lawyers tried to argue that Evans raised audience figures when he joined in 1997 but they had already begun to decline by 1998.

In June 2001, Evans took a week off work, claiming to be ill.

But he was photographed on several occasions out with his wife Billie Piper at the pub and supermarket.

Despite the fact that he was their biggest name, SMG finally lost patience and Evans was sacked.

Crying

Although Virgin did not believe Evans was ill, Evans' GP said the star was "chronically stressed" during this period.

Evans could not stop crying and kept repeating the phrase "don't get rid of me because I have not done anything wrong", according to Dr John Gayner.

Virgin said they sacked him because he had breached his contract, not just over his absence - alluding to other unknown reasons.

The cost of being fired was more than just facing the dole queue but the loss of millions of pounds worth of shares.

And the indomitable Evans was not going to take it lying down, and launched legal action that wound up at London's High Court.

'Public' breach

Evans alleged he had been unfairly dismissed and that SMG withheld 8.6m in shares he said were rightfully his.

But SMG countersued, saying Evans breached his contract in a "highly public manner" and claimed unspecified damages.

SMG maintained it was fully within its rights to sack Evans because of his behaviour.

Geoffrey Vos QC, representing SMG, told the court: "By his conduct, Mr Evans made it 100% clear by June 28 2001, the date of his dismissal, that he would not do what Virgin Radio's management reasonably required him to do as a presenter of a national radio breakfast show."

Evans remains an entrepreneur after the Virgin sacking, and has produced the Girls and Boys and Live With... shows for Channel 4 and Five.

But they have not found the success he enjoyed during his heyday.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific