Duffield 'humiliated' staff by withdrawing offer of sweets

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The former New Star boss John Duffield used to prowl the asset management firm's offices offering sweets to fund managers before withdrawing the offer from those having a bad day, a City employment tribunal heard yesterday.

The story was included in a 38-page witness statement made by Patrick Evershed, who is suing the firm – now part of Henderson – for constructive dismissal. Mr Evershed said: "He would ask those who were having a bad day if they were ashamed of themselves."

Mr Evershed said morale and confidence was destroyed at the firm and funds underperformed as managers were "stressed, anxious and fearful". He believed the "much publicised demise of New Star was as a direct result of founder John Duffield's bullying".

When he was recruited by New Star in 2002, Mr Evershed said Mr Duffield took him to his favourite Knightsbridge restaurant, Signor Sassi, and offered him £1m-worth of shares "which he hoped would be worth between £3m to £5m around the time I would have retired".

In the event, Mr Evershed said he was forced to work beyond his planned retirement at 65, or lose the shares. Meanwhile New Star shares fell from 549p to 2p. Mr Evershed said that "in the 44 years I have worked in the City, I had never seen such a catastrophic change".

A second witness has also accused Mr Duffield of bullying, according to Mr Evershed's lawyer, Daphne Romney. Theo Zemek – the former chief investment officer at New Star, now at Axa Framlington – has given "a compelling account of how she herself was bullied by Duffield", Ms Romney said. However, Ms Zemek may not be able to take part in the case after submitting her statement late.