Page last updated at 18:54 GMT, Monday, 5 January 2009

McLaren air steward 'victimised'

Ron Dennis
Ron Dennis employed Peter Boland on his Challenger 604 jet

An air steward sacked by McLaren racing boss Ron Dennis has told an employment tribunal he was victimised because of false rumours about being gay.

Peter Boland, 27, of Suffolk, was sacked at the McLaren headquarters in Woking, Surrey, in May 2007.

At a hearing in Southampton he alleged discrimination and victimisation due to sexual orientation by McLaren Group Limited, Absolute Taste and Greyscape.

Mr Dennis and the three companies that he controls deny the allegations.

Mr Boland, of Stowmarket, also told the hearing that Mr Dennis had been "insensitive" to Arab business associates by offering them drinks they had already declined.

"Ron's cultural insensitivity was further shown on another trip to the Middle East," he added.

"He came onboard and was offered a drink. Ron said he did not want a drink. Ron said he wanted to go to the bathroom to wash his hands because he had been shaking hands with Arabs all day."

Mr Boland, who earned 32,000 a year working on the aeroplane, said he had been a model employee for five years.

'Lacking passion'

He said he had been chastised by Mr Dennis in front of a business associate in April 2007 when he nodded off on a flight while unwell.

He also claimed that another staff member of Absolute Taste had spread a false rumour he was gay in March 2005.

He claimed that after he was sacked for lacking "passion" Mr Dennis said he could take the easy compromise agreement or go to a tribunal where he would use his vast resources and Mr Boland would look bad.

At a preliminary hearing last year Mr Boland claimed Mr Dennis treated him "dramatically" differently after word went round the company he was homosexual.

Jane Mulcahy, representing the companies, told that hearing that Mr Boland was sacked after he fell asleep on the plane while on duty and was also rude.

The case was adjourned until Tuesday.

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