Golfer 'touched up' at prize night

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A woman golfer hit a fellow club member for allegedly touching her leg at a prize-giving night, an industrial tribunal was told yesterday.

Philomena Vaughan, who was also manageress of the club's shop, said she was "touched up" by John Price as she walked past him after picking up trophies. But the club committee decided to suspend her and not him after the row.

Mrs Vaughan, 42, claimed Mr Price slid his hand under her long waistcoat as he sat on a bar stool. She told him not to touch her and then lashed out - hitting him on the chin - before storming away as he fell to the floor.

However, the committee at Dewstow Golf Club at Caerwent, Gwent, refused to believe she was the victim of a sex pest, suspended her and then sacked her as shop manageress two months later.

Yesterday Mrs Vaughan, of Rogiet, near Newport, began an unfair dismissal and sex discrimination battle against the club over the sacking.

The Cardiff tribunal was told that Mr Price had complained to the club officials after rumours about the incident spread among other golfers.

Mrs Vaughan - who is also a Welsh champion gold medal winner and a county player - was suspended as a playing golfer and was asked to resign her duties as ladies secretary, social treasurer and county delegate. She stayed on as full-time manageress at the club shop, but was sacked two months later after a row.

Philip Marshall, counsel for the club, said: "She claims Mr Price slid his hand underneath her waistcoat and over her thigh, rubbing it up and down. Words were exchanged and he put his hand towards her. She struck him on the chin. He says he was brushing a cigarette end off her cardigan and she misinterpreted his action, striking him twice. He ended up on the floor. At an inquiry that followed, it was decided Mr Price had done nothing wrong. They decided Mrs Vaughan had been the worse for wear through drink and had misinterpreted what had happened."

Mrs Vaughan had told officials she had witnesses but was suspended and asked to resign her club duties. Mr Marshall said that she launched a "tirade of abuse" against the committee chairman, Elwyn Harris.

"She made insolent and taunting remarks. She called them old sods and said she would fight them all the way. Then she invited them to sack her."

Mr Price denied indecently assaulting Mrs Vaughan. He said: "I was only trying to help her. She hit me on the arm and then in the throat. It was all over in a millisecond and I ended up on the floor."

Clive Lewis, counsel for Mrs Vaughan who is being backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission, said the club - which denies unfair dismissal and sex discrimination - discriminated by handling the two complaints in different ways.

The hearing continues today.