Sacked PlusNet boss blasts BT sale 'stitch up'
Blood on the carpet
Exclusive The ousted boss of PlusNet has branded its management liars and new owner BT deceitful in an angry email sent to former colleagues at the ISP.
The extraordinary missive, obtained by The Register, was fired off by Lee Strafford on Sunday evening. He was sacked from PlusNet in March this year after being accused of plotting to launch a rival business following its £67m acquisition by BT.
Strafford denied the allegation at the time and reasserts his innocence in his email, saying: "I have been hurt but not surprised by hearing about the way my reputation has been attacked since my departure." He writes that the principles the firm stood for have been "shat on" and that he has been "stitched up" by other executives.
A sellout to BT had long been the strategy, Strafford writes, and he had expected to leave PlusNet following the deal, but under happier circumstances.
"I did not foresee that the senior management team would once again forsake doing things the right way for their individual weakness, ego, greed and personal ambition - more fool me eh.
"Lets see if they are happy to tell their lies not just in dislosures but in a tribunal hearing and ultimalty in a high court." The claims of Strafford setting up a rival business appeared in the Financial Times via anonymous sources on 7 March. More from the FT here.
Strafford was boss at the Sheffield firm from 2000 until his sacking. Any PlusNet staff known to associate with him are also threatened with dismissal, he claims.
When we contacted Strafford about the email he confirmed he had written it but did not want to add anything further. He said: "I'm in a legal process currently and wouldn't want to do or say anything to undermine that.
"I'm holding the high ground currently and really don't want to lose that."
On Monday, PlusNet said acting CEO Neil Laycock would permanently replace Strafford. The ISP has been attempting to restore its reputation with customers following a series of technical cockups both before and after the BT acquisition.
PlusNet and BT refused to comment on Strafford's look back in anger.
We've published the whole thing on the next page. Financial rubberneckers will be interested by the table at the bottom detailing Strafford's renumeration package throughout his time at PlusNet. ®
Question for those current PN customers...
who are singing the praises of PusNet..
How LONG have you been with them?
Well as an existing customer ...
Apart from the mail problems (and that's fixed now we have the option of not using their servers) I've found them quite reliable - certainly enough to recommend them to friends. YMMV, but at work we have to deal (on behalf of our customers) with most providers at some time - and it seems to be a case of who is "least bad" to deal with. On that count I find PlusNet far, far from being the worst.
Before PlusNet I was with Demon, but the only reason I left Demon was because they didn't offer the right combination of features on their ADSL packages at the time my exchange got enabled - I used Demon for my work connection and never had any serious complaint about them.
My biggest worry is what BT will do to PlusNet - expectations of standard dropping to the depths of OpenWoe are foremost and when that happens I'll be looking for my MAC.
How the ego has landed
Plusnet have a history of working "The Plusnet Way".
They were working on the edge of what can only be described as unethical treatment of a number of staff over a few years not just months. Some were off through stress and then provided with an opportunity to leave I think was how you referred to it! These were so called poor performers who were not quite up to the "Plusnet" standard. Live, eat, breathe Plusnet or you were of no use. For those who were victims of this I'm sure that today you are smiling at Lee's predicament in fact maybe even feeling a tad sorry for the man.
He was one of a number of people who BT should have booted out the door the minute they acquired Plusnet and if they have any sense they'll see through the ones that were either supportive of the "Plusnet Way" or who were too scared to stand up to it but either way they are still in this company and need to go. Distancing themselves from Lee shows their true colours.
It was before BT arrived an arrogant, egotistical, draconian and indeed a bullying environment to work at times and I do hope BT will not let that happen again. It's very lucky to have retained a large proportion of the loyal people who work here - Why do they stay if it's such a bad place? With their skills they can get jobs elsewhere I hear you say. I suspect the fact Sheffield is hardly a centre for technology jobs is one of the reasons why staff put up with them but Lee was not the only one who was responsible for the shoddy way in which this business has been managed historically and their naivity of thinking they were untouchable was laughable and now Lee appears to be on the recieving end of a monster that was created.
Those who left and had their confidence shaken didnt leave with a whopping wad of cash but they did leave with the knowledge that they werent accused of the things we have been seeing here and they will stay in this industry because they don't treat their colleagues and customers like something they have stood in.
Once a Salesman always a Salesman.
Plusnet will survive that I'm certain of but it will take a lot of work to leave behind some of the stench that surrounds it.