Maid loses compensation claim over 'malicious lies'

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The Independent Online

A maid who accused her wealthy employers of treating her like a slave lost her compensation claim after being found to have told "malicious lies".

An employment tribunal ruled that Yoyoh Binti Salim Udin made up allegations against Firas and Lina Chamsi-Pasha after they outed her as a thief.

The 40-year-old Indonesian had claimed she drank acid in a suicide attempt to escape her ordeal at the hands of the couple. But it was ruled that the "shame" of being caught stealing from the family led to the attempt on her own life and that allegations of cruelty were fabricated.

The maid's claims against her employers included being forced to work 17-hour days, seven days a week.

She also complained of racial discrimination and being subjected to cruel behaviour at the hands of Mr and Mrs Chamsi-Pasha.

This included being banned from leaving the house and having her passport confiscated.

It was also alleged she was subjected to a strip-search after being accused of stealing earrings in February 2009.

But her claims were "pure invention" the employment tribunal panel ruled.

Ms Salim Udin had joined the Chamsi-Pashas at their London home in 2004.

Giving evidence at the tribunal, the Indonesian woman claimed that her working day would typically begin at 6.30am and end at 11pm or midnight.

She claimed that she was treated like a slave and forced to eat separately.

Ms Salim also told of how on one occasion she was slapped repeatedly for making rectangular, rather than triangular, spring rolls.

But the tribunal panel ruled that the description of her life as a maid for the family was a pack of lies.

"Ms Salim Udin's attempt to paint a picture of herself as excluded, overworked, bullied, exploited and ultimately humiliated was, we find, a travesty of the truth," it found.

Allegations of cruel or unkind behaviour were "simply untrue", the panel said, adding: "So far from members of the family being hostile towards her, we find that she was treated kindly, affectionately and with respect."

Turning to alleged suicide attempt - in which Ms Salim Udin drank a teaspoon of toilet cleaner in a quarter glass of water - the panel said it occurred after items of stolen family property were found on the maid.

"It was the shame of being found out as a thief and the loss of her employment that drove Ms Salim Udin to the desperate act of drinking acid."

It was also found that no strip-search took place.

The panel said that Ms Salim Udin was guilty of telling "wicked lies" in her account of life working for the Chamsi-Pashas.

It was ruled that the claimant is entitled to some money as a result of not being paid the minimum wage and not taking her annual leave.

But the sum could be dwarfed by any award against her legal fees.

Mr Chamsi-Pasha has said that the couple have spent £200,000 on lawyers to clear their name.