HSBC’s human resources manager has insisted that a gay banker was not sacked because of his sexuality.

HR manager Natalie Hattrell told an employment tribunal that the bank had followed “entirely correct procedures” when it dismissed Peter Lewis, who claims he was fired because he was gay.

Mr Lewis, the bank’s former equity head, was sacked after a fellow employee accused him of masturbating in front of him. He claims a man approached him and demanded to know his name at his work’s health club. He said: “As a gay man, I am aware that my sexuality can provoke hostile reactions from people, I just wanted him to go away. I therefore gave him a name which was not mine and which I made up on the spot.”

The 45 year old chose not to report the confrontation, but five days later was summoned to a meeting where he was told a man had accused him of ogling and masturbating in front of him, “The implication was that I had been ‘coming on’ to someone in the changing rooms.”

“However, I was, and still am, in a very happy, stable, long-term relationship which has lasted ten years. I had no need or desire to behave in such a way.”

His lawyer Alison Downie, of solicitors Bindman and Partners, said her client was dismissed “because HSBC discriminated against him because of his sexual orientation as a gay man.”

HSBC denies his claims.

The hearing continues.