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Woman golf champion sacked over slap blames man's world

A women's golf champion, sacked after punching a fellow club member off his bar stool, yesterday claimed she would have been treated differently if she were a man. Philomena Vaughan, 42, denied exaggerating the incident, which later earned her the nicknames "Mu-hammad Ali" and "Rocky".

Cross-examined at a resumed industrial tribunal, Mrs Vaughan, three times club champion, insisted that during a trophy presentation night at the Dewstow golf club, Gwent, businessman John Price, 49, slid his hand under her waistcoat and rubbed his hand up and down her thigh.

When she told him to stop, Mr Price said something and then flicked his hand towards her face. "I put my hand up to fend him off and then hit him on the side of his face."

At an earlier hearing, the Cardiff tribunal was told Mrs Vaughan was first suspended and then sacked two months later as manager of the golf shop for gross misconduct following a row with the club's owner and chairman, Elwyn Harris, over his handling of the issue.

Mrs Vaughan of Rogiet, Gwent, claims unfair dismissal and also sex discrimination because Mr Price was not treated in the same way after the incident. "What upset me most was that the golf club didn't interview me that night to find out what happened . . . Obviously, they didn't believe me at the time."

Former club barmaid Sonya Harris (no relation to Mr Harris), 24, described hearing Mr Price point out to Mrs Vaughan that she had something on her dress. "I then saw Mr Price lean forward and put his hand on her left thigh. Mrs Vaughan said something like 'Don't touch me', then I remember Mr Price waved his hand in front of her as if he was dismissing her allegation."

Mrs Vaughan had reacted by twice poking him in the shoulder area. "To me it looked like he lost his balance and went back off the stool and fell on the floor," Ms Harris said.

Questioned by Philip Marshall, for the club, Mrs Vaughan denied she had had a lot to drink at the evening. "Everything happened as I said," she added. She strongly denied allegations that she called the club committee "sods". Mrs Vaughan, whose case is backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission, has told the tribunal how she refused to sign a letter from Mr Price agreeing that there had been no assault.

In his evidence Mr Price, of Caldicot, Gwent, denied ever raising his hand to Mrs Vaughan or touching her.

The case continues.