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Microsoft Sued by Ex-U.K. Manager Fired Over ‘Kissing Incident’

A former Microsoft Corp. manager fired for allegedly kissing a colleague at a conference, and then lying about the incident, sued the company in a London court.

Simon Negus, a partner and general manager at Microsoft’s U.K. unit until he was dismissed in September, filed the lawsuit on Aug. 3. The complaint followed one made by Microsoft in April against Negus, now chief operating officer of Upstream Systems, seeking to reclaim holiday pay and part of his signing on bonus.

The dispute relates to an incident at Microsoft’s annual conference in Atlanta in July 2009. Negus, a U.K. board member, may have been seen kissing a female colleague in full view of other attendees, Microsoft said in a court filing.

Negus denied the “kissing incident” had taken place and when further information came out suggesting it had, he was dismissed for dishonesty, the Redmond, Washington-based company said in its claim.

Negus didn’t respond to calls and e-mails for comment.

Microsoft’s disciplinary panel found Negus had “behaved dishonestly, and thereby acted in a manner calculated or likely to destroy trust and confidence between him and Microsoft,” according to court documents.

A spokeswoman at Edelman, a public relations firm employed by Microsoft, declined to comment.

Microsoft is seeking the return of 75,000 pounds ($122,600), part of a signing bonus paid to Negus when he joined from Dell Inc. in 2008 that required him to remain at Microsoft for three years. The company is also claiming 2,563 pounds of holiday pay.

Negus joined Upstream, a mobile-marketing technology company, on July 20. In a press release issued at the time, Upstream said Negus led Microsoft’s U.K. Enterprise and Partner Group, and the U.K. unit had won Microsoft ‘Subsidiary of the Year’ in 2010.

The cases are: Simon Negus v. Microsoft Limited, HQ11X02875, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division; and Microsoft Limited v. Mr. Simon Negus, HQ11X01216. High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Divison

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