Cricket bosses pay for slur on secretary

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The Independent Online
THE English Cricket Board has apologised and paid a "substantial" sum to a Lord's receptionist who took it to an industrial tribunal.

In a case that confirmed fears of sexism in the higher echelons of English cricket, the tribunal heard that Theresa Harrild had been pressured into having an abortion after a brief affair with a club executive, and that she was later dismissed.

She won her sexual discrimination claim against the board, but the next day, Tim Lamb, its chief executive, criticised her for making what he called "pretty hurtful allegations".

Ms Harrild, from south London, immediately demanded a formal apology and damages, on top of the settlement due from the tribunal hearing.

Yesterday the ECB acted to stop the row going further by issuing a joint statement with Ms Harrild's solicitors, in which Lord MacLaurin expressed "sincere regret" for any distress caused by the tribunal and "subsequent press statements".

It said: "Lord MacLaurin has assured Miss Harrild that the ECB had no intention of suggesting that she had done other than provide an honest recollection of events to the industrial tribunal.

"And he has conveyed the apology of the ECB to Theresa Harrild for any statements made which might have given a contrary impression."

The board will pay a "substantial sum" to Ms Harrild and her legal costs, the statement said.

At the tribunal, Ms Harrild said she had been told by Mr Lamb that it would be the "best thing all round" if she got rid of the baby.

"I felt I was being pressurised into a decision I didn't want to make," she said. "He told me that if the right career opportunities came along, I couldn't be considered if I was pregnant or had to look after the children."

She said that following the abortion she became severely depressed and was pressured into giving up her job, before being dismissed.

She also accused Mr Lamb of being a sexist and a bully who called women cricketers "dykes and lesbians".

Mr Lamb denied the allegations of sexism and claimed the board behaved sympathetically.

However, Nick Marriner, the development officer with whom she had the affair, confirmed he had paid for the abortion and apologised for his part in the controversy.

The panel at the central London tribunal ruled in March that she had been pressured into having an abortion and was unlawfully dismissed.

However, Tim Lamb criticised the decision afterwards, saying: "We are pretty appalled by what are some pretty hurtful allegations."

He refused to explain why Ms Harrild had lost her job and claimed: "We thought we acted in an entirely appropriate manner and in good faith."

The industrial tribunal came only weeks after the Marylebone Cricket Club failed to vote with a big enough majority to admit women members.