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Business Analysis & Features

The Business On: Kate Bleasdale, founder, Healthcare Locums

The woman who won Young Entrepreneur of the Year?

That's right – Ms Bleasdale, a former nurse, picked up the gong two years ago for founding the recruitment company.

Good for her. Is it still a triumph?

Not so much – and Ms Bleasdale doesn't work there any more.

She sold up for a fortune, right?

If only. Actually, Ms Bleasdale was dismissed from the company in January after accounting irregularities came to light. Shares in the company had to be suspended and five months later the new chairman has just had to ask for investors' patience as he tries to sort out the books.

Goodness, what does she have to say for herself?

In public, nothing. That's because she is keeping her powder dry for a legal battle. It emerged yesterday that she is now suing the company for unfair dismissal, as well as sexualdiscrimination. The case could be worth millions.

But what about the accounting irregularities?

That's the point. Ms Bleasdale says that as soon as she found out about them, she alerted the board of Healthcare Locums. It should then have protected her as a whistle-blower, she argues, rather thangetting rid of her.

Goodness, what a mess

Absolutely. The company denies Ms Bleasdale's claims and professes itself "more than surprised" by them. This could prove to be quite a fight.

So who will win?

It's impossible to say without access to all the facts. But don't expect Ms Bleasdale to give in easily – she's fought back before after being sidelined by a company she founded.

What happened there?

Back in 2002, she was fired by Match Group, another medical recruitment company, and subsequently sued for sexual discrimination. She won what was then the largest ever payout in such a case. Some of the £2.2m she received went into the founding of Healthcare Locums.