Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Steward 'sorry' for F1 boss slur

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

An air steward has apologised for making "unfounded" allegations against McLaren Formula One chairman Ron Dennis at a Southampton employment tribunal.

Peter Boland, 27, of Suffolk, worked on Mr Dennis's private jet but was sacked at the McLaren headquarters in Woking, Surrey, in May 2007.

He claimed he had been victimised and discriminated against on the basis of his sexual orientation.

Mr Dennis, 61, said after the hearing he had been "totally vindicated".

During the hearing, Mr Boland falsely accused Mr Dennis of washing his hands because he had been "shaking hands with Arabs all day".

Mr Boland also claimed that one staff member of Absolute Taste, a company Mr Dennis controls, had spread an untrue rumour he was gay in March 2005.

Mr Dennis said: "Clearly, I and all at McLaren, and all the other respondents, have been totally vindicated by the complete and unequivocal withdrawal and unreserved apology by Peter Boland, who had worked as a steward on my aeroplane between 2002 and 2007.

I feel great remorse for the upset that I now realise I have needlessly caused
Peter Boland

"This case has been hurtful, irritating and unnecessary, in the sense that no impropriety ever took place, which fact Mr Boland now concedes.

"Equally, Mr Boland accepts that I have never said or done anything either racist or homophobic."

Mr Dennis conceded he had unfairly dismissed Mr Boland but had done this "out of kindness so that he could reach an amicable settlement".

He said: "Moreover, every action taken by my colleagues and me in connection with Mr Boland's dismissal was done with the intention of minimising the negative impact of that dismissal on his reputation and employment record."

After legal discussions by both parties, engineering graduate Mr Boland read out a prepared statement to the hearing in which he withdrew the action against Mr Dennis and all respondents in the case.

The statement said: "I unreservedly apologise to Mr Dennis and all respondents, and to the tribunal, for wasting their time with what I now realise were unfounded allegations.

"In particular, I apologise to Mr Dennis for suggesting that he is, or was, either racist or homophobic, or that he ever made any remarks or performed any actions that would suggest that he was.

"I feel great remorse for the upset that I now realise I have needlessly caused to him, to his family and to his colleagues.

"I consider this matter now closed and will not be taking further action, or making further comments, in connection with it in the future."

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