A married father has won £44,000 at an employment tribunal after suffering homophobic bullying at his workplace in Leeds.

Michael Austin, 48, who is straight, was subjected to homophobic abuse because of his personal interests outside work and called a ‘crafty butcher’, a slang term for a gay person.

Mr Austin was bullied at packaging firm Samuel Grant for not liking football, which he was told indicated he was gay.

The tribunal said according to other employees it was a common inference in “north east England football circles, in that anybody who does not like football must accordingly be homosexual”.

Mr Austin’s interest in arts fuelled the homosexual perceptions of him and further bullying. One colleague pretended to have Tourette’s Syndrome, swearing intermittently at him.

He described the experience as “an absolutely unbearable, dreadful nightmare from day one”, the Mail reports.

Managing director Ian Laidlaw unfairly dismissed Mr Austin when he complained. The company must now pay him nearly £44,000.

The tribunal said: “It was a series of treatment by two people over a period of several months during which Mr Austin was treated atrociously, by being referred constantly to being gay, homosexual and a crafty butcher.

“It was extreme, frequent and very unpleasant. All he wanted to do was get out and get on with his job.

“He was subjected to unwanted religious discussions, then when he made a complaint was dismissed. It has obviously had a deep-seated emotional effect on Mr Austin.”