Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 18:29 UK

Church woman 'bullied gay worker'

Stephen Price and Mair Jones
Stephen Price said he was bullied by Mair Jones's constant talk about sex

A gay church worker claims he was bullied out of his job by a manager who "would say something about gay sex every day".

Stephen Price, 25, of Clydach, near Abergavenny, said Mair Jones, 40, turned "every conversation" to sex.

Mr Price is claiming sexual harassment and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation against the Presbyterian Church of Wales.

The church denies the charges. The Cardiff employment tribunal continues.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Mr Price, who is openly gay, said he worked alongside Ms Jones at the church's 250-year-old Trefeca centre, a 37-bed retreat near Brecon, Powys, visited by church groups from around Britain.

He told the hearing he was forced to quit as the assistant manager because of Ms Jones's ceaseless comments about sex, which included calling him a "stupid poof".

I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof - I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation
Stephen Price

The philosophy graduate said: "Every conversation would somehow end up being a conversation about sex. This happened continuously and was part of her repertoire.

"Everything imaginable that I would say would be repeated back to me as a double entendre.

"She joked once that I could have her for sexual harassment and that she was the Queen of Innuendo as she would find a sexual twist to even the most innocent comment.

"Sex and sexuality seemed to be the only subjects Mair was interested in talking to me about. Mrs Jones would say something about gay sex every day."

"I was and still am shocked to have been referred to as a poof. I am very proud of both my faith and my sexual orientation.

Mr Price told the hearing how his mother, Rev Linda Price, is a minister in the church and was "excited" about him landing the job at the centre, first set up as a Christian community in 1752, and which is now a religious retreat and conference centre.

I was bullied consistently for no other reason than my sexuality, daily having to put up with either being referred to as a poof or having her talk of homosexuality or sex
Stephen Price

He said he went on trips with Mrs Jones, including one with her boyfriend, to try to improve their relationship, but the sightseeing soon brought up the subject of sex.

He said: "Mair delighted in telling me about the local landmark called Lord Hereford's Knob and about a village called Three Cocks and how funny this was.

"I was then told a story about Mair visiting a sex shop while leaving her mum in the car and had to hide her bag of sex toys from her."

The hearing heard Mrs Jones gave him a 24th birthday present of a toilet roll with pink fairies on it and a card with a picture of Oscar Wilde.

Mr Price said he was moved to another office in Cardiff after less than 12 months but resigned when he was told to return to the college. He is also suing for constructive dismissal.

'Supportive'

He said: "I was bullied consistently for no other reason than my sexuality, daily having to put up with either being referred to as a poof or having her talk of homosexuality or sex."

Ms Jones repeatedly denied the claims Mr Price made.

She said: "I was very caring and supportive and I tried to help him as much as I possibly could.

"I recognise Stephen is an independent person and as I mentioned in the papers, we didn't spend much time together before Christmas."

The tribunal hearing continues.

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