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Lord's secretary `pressured into abortion'

THE chief executive of the English Cricket Board, Tim Lamb, pressurised a female employee into having an abortion after an affair with another member of staff, an industrial tribunal heard yesterday. He then sacked the woman.

In a decision that will do nothing to improve the already deeply misogynistic image of the headquarters of cricket, the tribunal decided that Theresa Harrild had suffered sexual discrimination.

She told the tribunal Mr Lamb had pressured her into having the abortion following a brief affair with Nick Marriner, a development executive. She said the pressure she was put under caused her to have a nervous breakdown.

Miss Harrild, 32, a receptionist at Lord's, 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."

Miss Harrild, from south london, said that the English Cricket Board had paid her to have the abortion at a private clinic on February 1997. It had paid her pounds 400 delivered in a brown envelope. She said that following the abortion she became severely depressed and was pressured into giving up her job before being dismissed.

The decision comes just weeks after the MCC failed to vote with a big enough majority to admit women members.

Last night, the ECB denied paying for the abortion and also denied a number of comments Miss Harrild attributed to the board's members. The tribunal will reconvene to rule on compensation.