£17,000 for woman who refused to look after boss's cat

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The Independent Online

A bookmaker in the Outer Hebrides has been told to pay his former clerk and girlfriend nearly £17,000 after he sacked her for refusing to look after his cat.

Chris Ann Lafferty was dismissed by Donnie Campbell last October after she baulked at his orders to look after Sami, his cat, his house and his car while he was away. An employment tribunal ordered Mr Campbell, 56, an unmarried former Royal Marines Commando officer, who runs a bookmaker's in Stornoway, to pay her £16,730 for unfair dismissal.

Mrs Lafferty, 53, who had worked for Mr Campbell as a clerk for 16 years, said she was unhappy about having to take her former boss to the tribunal, despite a finding in her favour. "There are no winners in this. I have been unemployed since October. That's not much of a victory, is it?" she said yesterday.

The dispute followed a series of arguments between the couple, who had had a relationship 10 years ago. "He must have sacked her half a dozen times in the last few years," said one of her friends yesterday. "Each time she went to the JobCentre, he would have cooled down and just take her back each time. But he just went too far the last time. This had to happen."

The tribunal, sitting in Stornoway, heard that Mr Campbell was due to visit mainland Scotland for an operation and planned to extend the trip into a short holiday.

After being asked to look after his house, car and cat while he was away, Mrs Lafferty refused because she was only employed to work in the bookmakers. She suggested one of his friends should do it instead.

Mr Campbell reacted by asking her to return her wages and the keys to his house and the betting shop.