Cricket chief 'appalled' by sexism claims

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ENGLAND'S cricket chief today hit back at a former Lord's receptionist who branded him a sexist and a bully, saying he was "saddened and appalled" by her allegations.

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the English Cricket Board, denied Lord's had paid for Theresa Harrild to have an abortion.

Miss Harrild, 32, rocked the upper echelons of English cricket yesterday when she won an industrial tribunal claiming she had been dismissed after being forced to terminate her pregnancy.

Mr Lamb said: "We are pretty appalled by what are some pretty hurtful allegations."

The former Middlesex cricketer denied all allegations made by Miss Harrild during the case, including a claim that he had referred to women cricketers as "dykes and lesbians".

He stressed that he was personally working hard to promote women in cricket.

Speaking at Lord's, he declined to reveal why Miss Harrild had lost her job, but he said: "I would completely deny what she said.

"My personal attitude towards her situation was one of sympathy and understanding.

"We thought we acted in an entirely appropriate manner and in good faith. There was absolutely no pressure put on Miss Harrild by senior management here to terminate the pregnancy."

This robust response was undermined yesterday, however, when a second woman employee at Lord's alleged sex discrimination, "malicious" behaviour by senior male staff and being sent pornographic e-mail. Marketing secretary Sarah Bladon told London's Evening Standard: "I think I was expected to find it amusing, but I found it very offensive."

The secretary told the paper that she was shocked by the "malicious way" her employers had claimed Miss Harrild was sacked because of her inability to do her job and that she was unpopular with other staff.

"I realise that I have nothing to gain and everything to lose, but I feel I have to tell the truth about what has happened."

A spokesman for Lords denied there had been any "untoward behaviour" towards Sarah Bladon.