A SALES manager for one of Britain’s leading estate agents who spent hundreds of hours viewing pornography on his office computer has lost his case for unfair dismissal.

Anthony Stewart, 33, looked at “inappropriate” websites and also played online poker while working for the agency in Lilliput, Poole.

Mr Stewart was caught when his computer picked up a virus and had to be checked.

In a witness statement submitted to an employment tribunal, Mr Stewart said he only accessed the sites to distract him from his addiction to online gambling.

An internal investigation discovered Mr Stewart had spent “hundreds of hours over a number of years” accessing unauthorised sites. He was sacked from his £54,000-a-year job by Lloyds Property Group for gross misconduct, prompting him to sue for unfair dismissal, claiming £45,000 in loss of earnings. After a tribunal found in favour of Lloyds, its managing director Tom Doyle said: “We are relieved that this whole, unnecessary event is now over. The whole affair has left a very sour taste in the mouth.

“After 14 months of unwarranted stress and worry, not to mention a legal bill approaching £10,000, we are at a loss as to why such a clear-cut case was ever taken to court.”

The panel found that when Mr Stewart started work at Lloyds in August 2004, he already “had a problem with gambling” which was unknown to his employers. Four years later, his work PC became infected with a Trojan virus.

Mr Stewart was called into work to explain why he had accessed a poker website. But the probe uncovered a host of other websites, some pornographic, that were viewed over prolonged periods.

The panel ruled: “In total, access to those sites amounts to hundreds of hours over a number of years.”

Mr Stewart argued that his bosses were aware that staff used the internet for personal use and claimed there was no policy in place that banned viewing inappropriate websites.

Mr Stewart, who is now working at another estate agency, did not want to comment as there were outstanding civil proceedings by Lloyds against him.