Nanny loses unfair sacking claim against Heather Mills
Friday 04 June 2010
Heather Mills's former nanny has lost her claim of sexual discrimination and constructive dismissal against her, her solicitor said today.
Sara Trumble, 26, claimed Mills reduced her to tears with the demands she placed on her and forced her to work long hours without any extra pay
The nanny, who was paid £260 a week by Mills to look after her daughter Beatrice, now six, told an employment tribunal she felt she was a hard-working and loyal employee but in return her former boss took advantage of her.
Ms Trumble, who began working for Mills in April 2004 when she was still married to Sir Paul McCartney, said she handed in her notice in September 2008 after she was relegated to domestic duties after returning from maternity leave.
The three-day hearing at Ashford Employment Tribunal Centre in Kent, which began at the end of March, saw Ms Trumble claim compensation for sex and maternity discrimination, plus constructive dismissal.
However tribunal judge Steven Vowles dismissed the claims in the judgment, which was reserved until today.
During her own evidence Mills, who lost a leg when she was hit by a police motorcyclist in 1993, said she treated Ms Trumble "like a daughter" and showered her with gifts during her employment, including a two-seater sports car.
Mills wept as she described how she met Ms Trumble when she gave her beauty treatments at a health club near Sir Paul's estate in Rye, East Sussex, and took her on as a nanny to help her better herself.
She said that if anything, she was too accommodating with Trumble when she took maternity leave to have her daughter Lily in 2007 and pointed out that Trumble asked her to become godmother to the child when she was born.
Mills claimed she and the young nanny were "very close" but their relationship turned sour when she refused to give her £4,000 for breast enlargement surgery in the spring of 2008.
She denied Ms Trumble's claims that she relegated her to carrying out household chores after she returned from maternity leave, and said she only arranged new childcare for Beatrice after she had handed in her notice.
A spokeswoman for Mills said she was "delighted" with the result.
She said in a statement: "Heather is delighted with the decision of the Employment Tribunal that has dismissed all of Sara Trumble's claims.
"Heather was always a very fair and generous employer to Sara and is very pleased that this has been confirmed by Judge Vowles and the Tribunal members unanimously in the judgment."
The judgment stated it "did not find the claimant to be a persuasive witness" and "made substantial changes to her evidence when cross-examined and was generally unsure about dates and the sequence of events".
However it added that it had found Mills's witnesses - personal trainer Ben Amigoni, staff manager Ruth Matthews, PA Sonya Webb and sister Fiona - to be "more persuasive" in their testimonies.
During the tribunal Ms Trumble complained that Mills often made her feel uncomfortable by getting her to lie to Sir Paul when he came to pick up or drop off Beatrice following their divorce.
But the judgment stated that although Ms Trumble may have felt awkward at these times, "it was not surprising" Mills "wanted to ensure the handover of Beatrice was conducted as quickly and smoothly as possible with the minimum of upset to all concerned".
It also found Ms Trumble's claims that Mills made her feel uncomfortable by asking her to report back to her about her new boyfriend, Jamie Walker, was actually in keeping with the nanny and Mills's "close personal relationship" as they often discussed their respective partners with one another.
During the tribunal, Ms Trumble said she was made to give a glowing account of Mills to a film crew she had hired to make a documentary about herself.
On this topic the judgment concluded that the incident was voluntary and the nanny did admit she "did say some very positive and kind words" about Mills, which she felt at the time were true.
The judgment dismissed Ms Trumble's assertions that her role changed once she had her own child, as she accepted in her own evidence that she carried out housework and other menial tasks from the start of her employment with Mills.
It summarised: "The claimant's account of the respondent's alleged animosity towards her pregnancy, maternity and childcare responsibility was not supported by the surrounding facts proved by the tribunal."
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