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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 13:18 GMT 14:18 UK
Tribunal told millionaire 'a caring employer'
A rich businessman accused of bullying his housekeeper was a caring employer, his wife told an employment tribunal on Wednesday.

Millionaire Edward Haughey, 59, one of the UK's richest businessmen, is said to have driven Linda Heaton, 47, from her job as head housekeeper at Corby Castle, near Carlisle.

Mary Haughey told an employment tribunal in Carlisle her husband showed concern for his staff and on more than one occasion had said they could go home early at the end of a hard day.

Dr Haughey, who is believed to be worth around 300m, divides his time between the estate in Cumbria and his main home at Ballyedmond Castle in Northern Ireland.

Mrs Heaton, from Carlisle, is claiming unfair dismissal and breach of contract.

The dispute centres around a weekend last December when the Haugheys were entertaining a shooting party at Corby Castle and it was felt that Mrs Heaton was neglecting her duties.

Menu holder

Mrs Haughey said she did not know what was discussed between her husband and Mrs Heaton but said he had a very "hands on" role in the running of the house.

He would at times let staff go home to rest if he felt they had been working hard.

Mrs Haughey, a solicitor, said trouble arose at the gathering in December when a gold-gilded menu holder disappeared. It was thought it could have been taken by a guest.

She said she had approached Mrs Heaton to discuss matters when the housekeeper broke down, and told her that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer just days earlier.

When Mrs Haughey tried to comfort her by giving her a hug she said she was rejected.

The gold menu holder was later found back at the Haugheys residence in Northern Ireland.

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