Ex-governor 'made Beefeater jibes'

The former governor of the Tower of London called Beefeaters the "lowest of the low" and branded them "thick", an employment tribunal heard today.

Major General Keith Cima was dismissed from his job at the end of last year after being accused of making derogatory comments about the Yeoman body.

Mr Cima was openly critical of a payout and apology given to Yeoman warder Mark Sanders-Crook, who had been dismissed after alleged bullying of the first female Beefeater Moira Cameron.

The former soldier, who spent more than 30 years in the Army, told the hearing that from December 2009 his eyesight began to deteriorate and fear of losing his sight left him distracted and affected his judgment. He was diagnosed with cataracts and now has 'bionic' eyes, he said.

Mr Cima was also accused of having told an interview candidate, Alison Lodge, that he had taken the top job because it paid more than the Army.

He denied this because the salary itself, without pension payments and accommodation provision taken into account, was less.

Earlier, in a witness statement submitted to the tribunal, Mr Cima claimed a cannabis plant had been used to try to discredit him during an investigation into bullying suffered by Ms Cameron.

His statement read: "A cannabis plant had, according to the Metropolitan Police, been planted on the veranda of Queen's House (where he lived) in order to discredit me during the bullying inquiry and follow-up action."

Mr Cima took on the role of governor at the Tower of London in October 2006 and was responsible for the day-to-day running of the attraction.

Within weeks he was approached by three whistleblowers concerned about the behaviour of some Beefeaters.

As well as alleged "financial impropriety" linked to the Tower Social Club, there were "illegal raffles, unauthorised access to the Crown Jewels, unauthorised receptions in the crypt of the Chapel Royal, cannabis growing, and sub-letting of accommodation to young female tourists".

Mr Cima said he was under "severe stress" and was warned to take greater precautions with his security at this time.

Ms Cameron started work in summer 2007, but Mr Cima said by February 2009 he noticed she was starting to lose her hair because of stress over bullying.

He wanted to defend her, saying he had "zero tolerance" for bullying, and objected to the later payout and apology given to Mr Sanders-Crook.

Mr Cima was dismissed by management at Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) in December 2010 for gross misconduct after vocal criticism of the settlement.

In his witness statement he said: "I had not been as co-operative as Mr (Michael) Day (chief executive of HRP) would have liked over the Sanders-Crook settlement and apology. I believed that this was the reason that had triggered all these allegations and led to my dismissal."

Mr Cima, who now lives in France, said finding another job has been "tough going" and wants to be reinstated.

His statement read: "I do not believe that given that I am now 60, that I will ever replace the status and salary I had as the last resident governor of the Tower of London. To me it was the best job in the world and I would go back in an instant."

Mr Cima later said he had used the phrase "lowest of the low" to refer to two Yeoman Warders who were accused of bullying Ms Cameron.

He also referred to the Yeoman body as "the third 11".

Mr Cima told the hearing: "That's a comment that I have heard used in the Tower and it's a comment that I have made. I do accept it's a flippant sort of comment for anyone to make, let alone me."

He apologised "unreservedly" for what he said.

A series of derogatory comments he allegedly made were put to Mr Cima, who said: "I must have said some intemperate things but most of them I cannot remember."

When showing Ms Cameron a press release concerning Mr Sanders-Crook's payout, he allegedly said HRP had "prostituted itself", the tribunal was told.

Again, Mr Cima said he could not remember using those words, but accepted he had.