Penguin and Davidar settle out of court: UPDATED
According to an article in today’s Globe and Mail, the sexual harassment suit that cost ex-Penguin Canada head David Davidar his job last month has been settled out of court:
“We can now advise that all allegations have been addressed and all matters resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” Peter Downard, lawyer to former Penguin executive David Davidar, wrote in an e-mail. “None of the parties will be commenting further to the media.”
Penguin spokesman Yvonne Hunter confirmed the news. “Everything has been settled,” she said, adding that the company expects to follow the news by announcing the name of Penguin Canada’s new president Wednesday morning.
The undisclosed settlement puts an end to the legal side of this unfortunate incident. However, the voices that have been raised as a result of this whole affair should not be forgotten or ignored, and if there is an institutional culture that condones the behaviour alleged to have transpired at Penguin, it should be addressed now, before the entire industry is forced to undergo a repeat of this sad chapter in its history.
UPDATE, July 7, 2010: A press release from Penguin Group (Canada) today announced that Mike Bryan, the CEO of Penguin India since 2007, has been appointed president of Penguin Canada:
Mike Bryan is one of the most senior and experienced members of Penguin’s international team, having served as International Sales and Marketing Director for Penguin for both the U.K. and U.S. and, most recently, as President of Penguin India. Mike was fundamental to the development of Penguin’s international operations, setting up companies in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain. He also started Penguin Singapore and Malaysia. He will transfer to Toronto and will take up responsibility in August, reporting to David Shanks.
In case Canadian authors, agents, and industry watchers are disappointed that the new president does not hail from this country, the release goes on to state that “Penguin Canada expects to appoint a Canadian with senior experience in the media and publishing industries to the position of Chairman of a newly formed Penguin Canada Board, which will have responsibility for the company’s overall strategy.”
More significantly, as Claire Cameron points out in the comments section of this post, Lisa Rundle, the ex-Penguin staffer whose sexual harassment suit precipitated David Davidar’s ouster, has been restored to her old position as rights and contracts director.
As for Bryan, he is largely an unknown quantity here in Canada. Live Mint (a website run by The Wall Street Journal) published a profile of Bryan back in 2008. The article offers some background for people in this country who are unfamiliar with Bryan’s history.
He holds a degree in business studies from Liverpool John Moores University, and worked as a bookseller before joining Penguin in 1980. One of Bryan’s stated goals at Penguin India was to find a domestic writer capable of achieving the international stature and sales of a Tom Clancy or a Dan Brown. Of the latter writer, Live Mint quotes Bryan as saying, “How can you look down on Dan Brown when he has sold so many books?”
Bryan’s taste in wine is perhaps slightly more refined: he professes an affinity for Sula Sauvignon Blanc and Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany.
According to Live Mint, Bryan was not much of a reader as a boy:
“I didn’t read very much till I was 16,” he says. “And then I started going out with a girl who read a lot. She had this wall of orange. I suddenly realized that girls found boys who read very attractive.” It turned out to be a lasting affair – not with the book lover he was dating, but with books. And, also, it appears, with a certain book publisher. The wall in his old flame’s room was orange because it was lined with Penguin paperbacks with their distinctive orange spines.
Some years passed, and books also brought Bryan and his wife, Heather Adams, together. He was working as a manager in a bookstore in the north of England and she was the “Saturday girl” there – which means, he explains, that she came to work only on Saturdays.
That “thumping” sound you hear is yr. humble correspondent banging his head repeatedly against his desk.