Taylor's butler faces harassment charges

Having weathered seven husbands over eight marriages, Elizabeth Taylor may have less difficulty than most in fending off a lawsuit from her former gardener, who claimed in court this week that he had been fired because he rejected a homosexual advance from the butler at Ms Taylor's palatial estate in Bel Air, Los Angeles.

The gardener, Willem Van Muyden, is suing his former employer for sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination, wrongful dismissal and breach of oral contract.

In his rather fevered account, he believes he was victimised "because he was not gay like the other employees that worked for Taylor". He also accuses the 71-year-old actress of owing him $294,000 (£183,000) in back pay stretching over a 10-year period.

Lawyers for Ms Taylor, who knows a thing or two about vituperative domestic relations (and once won an Oscar for reproducing them with Richard Burton in the film version of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), have described the lawsuit as "a work of complete fiction". They are threatening to countersue Mr Van Muyden for malicious prosecution.

Mr Van Muyden lost his job after he had spent 10 years creating a fake jungle environment in the garden. He says the butler, Jean-Luc Lacquement, cornered him in the kitchen, grabbed his testicles and proclaimed his love for him.

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