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Former PlusNet CEO hits back at BT over dismissal
Wednesday 07 March 2007 03:19:35 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Less than 36 hours after Lee Strafford's departure as CEO of PlusNet, a war of words seems to have broken out between the former CEO and the company's new owner BT according to reports. The Independent is this morning featuring a story on the quarrel and states that Mr Strafford has threatened legal action against BT for his dismissal on grounds of misconduct.

The Independent quotes a source who states that Mr Strafford had been called into a meeting by BT to discuss PlusNet workers' remuneration when he was faced with allegations involving a plan by himself and Mr Comer to start up a new business venture which would be 'to the detriment of PlusNet'. Neil Comer took over the role of Finance Director from Ashok Makanji in November 2005 and left PlusNet on Monday with Mr Strafford.

Full Story: Plusnet founder threatens to sue BT for sacking (The Independent)


Posted by JohnUK over 10 years ago
I've no doubt his severance package was generous but he seems to want to stay in control and now wants to lash out at the new owners who rejected him and their ever so slightly better business practices.

He should be grateful he is not in front of the Office of Fair Trading or an Employment Tribunal.

All good though if it highlights and brings out into the public the disgusting way Plusnet treated it's employees, business partners, suppliers and customers if not far too little, too late.
Posted by jelv over 10 years ago
If they had concentrated on getting things right for their existing users instead of hatching increasingly grandiose plans things would not have reached the sorry state they did.
All the evidence shows that BT have brought a lot of sanity to the operation and the improvements are very apparent.
Posted by pr100 over 10 years ago
Congrats to TBB on being awake in the small hours! There isn't the slightest chance that BT would have acted without a shedload of evidence against Strafford and Comer. This is just filibustering by Strafford - if he ever does sue BT I will take my trousers down in Trafalgar Square. There's more to this story than meets the eye.
Posted by keith_thfc over 10 years ago
Can't see many having any sympathy for Mr Strafford after all the times he's tried to pull a fast one on his customers.
Posted by rsharma over 10 years ago
It is not uncommon for previous founders to set-up similar business ventures once they have sold the old one and with a lot of cash in their pockets it is usually viable too.

That BT retained these people after the takeover was always a questionable decision because if these people treated the customers in such a poor manner what are the chances they treated their staff better.

All the signs are that these people used bullyboy tactics in the market and on customers for the biggest profits. The worst kind of business. It is a shame that they were rewarded for it with a buy-out.
Posted by mixt over 10 years ago
"... brings out into the public the disgusting way Plusnet treated it's employees …"

I little birdie once told me what it was/is like to be a PHP developer in PlusNet. One of the office policies was that only a single member of your team could go to the toilet at any one time, presumably to stop you having spurious chit chats out with the office and to ensure work was being executed at the best efficiency possible. Needless to say, I think he (the birdie that is) has since moved onto better things and... quite rightly so! :)
Posted by paddyclark over 10 years ago
Don't forget by accusing misconduct, any severance pays/benefits become null..
Posted by Silvereyes over 10 years ago
I can't comment on the validity of that particular anecdote but it does tend to fit with management behaviour in other areas. Particularly customer support who not only suffered abuse from angry customers but bullying from senior management.
Posted by MattGrest over 10 years ago
>One of the office policies was that only a
>single member of your team could go to the
>toilet at any one time

Maybe that's because we only had one toilet in the office at this point...

Seriously, that comment is utter rubbish. We all know easily stray comments like that become 'reality' on this website :)

I'm quite happy for you to come to PlusNet HQ for a look around. We have an open day next month where you can see how hard we work and play...

Matt Grest
Head of Future Development
Posted by stephen_f2s over 10 years ago
I heard they like to drown puppies in canals too.
Posted by adriandaz over 10 years ago
MattGrest, please can you point me in the direction of details regarding the Open Day...

Posted by _TRIaXOR_ over 10 years ago
How does it feel to be Shafted mr strafford, like what YOU did to your customer base ;-) ah Karma, you gotta love it :-D
Posted by danman7_200 over 10 years ago
Good Riddance. I have a new found respect for BT!
Posted by bazzer17 over 10 years ago
i say good riddance also,they have treated me like dirt,now bt have made 100%better
Posted by wellread over 10 years ago
I've been a plus net customer for 6 years and worked for them in the call center for a long time. Profit dictated the way the business was run as it does in all companies.

The fact the company has survived and become what it is today is mainly to our late CEO .As for the toilet breaks you couldn't find a more relaxed company to work for.

We will now become BT clones it's inevitable.
Posted by Silvereyes over 10 years ago
That certainly wasn't my experience. Perhaps as a contractor I wasn't 'entitled' to the same consideration as permanent staff.

However, none of this is relevant. The issue is serious misconduct by two individuals who violated their agreement with the new parent company.

BTW: What *IS* the difference between a BT clone and a PlusNET clone?
Posted by alannisbet over 10 years ago
Wasn't my experience either Silvereyes.

I had the misfortune at working at PusNet for a few months back in 2004. I don't remember the one-at-a-time to the toilet rule, but I do remember

1) Strafford sauntering into the office around lunchtime each day, and proceeding to walk around the office barefoot, bellowing at random employees for no reason.

2) Strafford having a 'special' lunch made for him by the company cleaner every day so he didn't have to ear the quorn / corned beef sandwiches offered to employees to 'persuade' them to work through their lunchbreak
Posted by alannisbet over 10 years ago

3) nobody daring to go into the video games room incase Strafford thought you were not doing enough work and sacked you

4) calling the call-centre staff "trained chimps" in the PusNet management meetings which I had the misfortune to have to sit in on.
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