Brigadier finds trouble on home front

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The Independent Online
A FEUD involving a cook, a brigadier, his wife and flat chocolate cake culminated yesterday in the Ministry of Defence being sued for constructive dismissal.

Relations became so bad between Penny de Vere Wingfield Hayes and the cook, Elaine Ward, that her husband, Guy, Chief of Staff to the UN Command in Bosnia, sent a fax home to colleagues in an attempt to resolve the domestic conflict.

At the Hayes' home in the grounds of Dover Castle - where the brigadier is the Queen Mother's Deputy Constable - there were complaints about the quality of Mrs Ward's scrambled eggs, the flatness of her brownies, stodgy cake, the dryness of her biscuits and the absence of greens from meals, an industrial tribunal in Ashford, Kent, heard yesterday.

Mrs Ward, from Deal, claimed that Mrs Hayes disliked her. The argument which led the brigadier to intervene involved a complaint that onions in a lasagne had not been liquidised. 'Mrs Hayes said she had lived in Italy and knew how it was done,' Mrs Ward said. 'I said we're not in Italy and I'm not Italian. She started screaming, her face inches from mine, saying she wouldn't be spoken to like that in her own home.

'I replied that I was employed by the Ministry of Defence and the kitchen was their property. Mrs Hayes replied: 'Bugger the MoD'.' After the row Mrs Ward, who had worked at the house for five years, was signed off with stress for a week by her doctor. When she returned she said there was a brief improvement but matters soon deteriorated, and she gave a month's notice.

The tribunal continues tomorrow.