F1 boss falsely accused of homophobia had hired gay steward
The steward on board the private jet of Formula 1 team owner Ron Dennis is gay, it has been revealed.
Jamie Siggs was ready to give evidence in support of his boss at a employment tribunal this week, before the case fell apart.
On Tuesday Peter Boland, the previous steward, apologised at a tribunal in Southampton for alleging that Mr Dennis is homophobic.
Mr Boland, who is straight, was sacked in May 2007 after five years of service.
The tribunal was told he fell asleep while on duty aboard a flight and had made a number of other mistakes.
Mr Boland claimed that Mr Dennis had acted noticeably differently around him after rumours about Mr Boland’s sexuality began to spread in 2005.
He said: “Having to explain that I was not gay was extremely embarrassing for all concerned.”
Mr Boland claimed he was victimised and dismissed an employee on the grounds of his sexual orientation.
He took Mr Dennis and three of his companies, McLaren Group Ltd, Absolute Taste and Greyscape, to tribunal.
Mr Dennis and the companies denied all the allegations.
Earlier this week Mr Boland read a statement to the tribunal hearing.
In it he “unreservedly” apologised to Mr Dennis, all respondents, and the tribunal, for “wasting their time with what I now realise were unfounded allegations.”
He apologised to Mr Dennis for claiming he is 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.”
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Mr Boland decided to withdraw his allegations after it came to light that the current steward, Jamie Siggs, is openly gay.
Mr Siggs was reportedly unhappy that his boss was being portrayed as a homophobe and was willing to testify to the tribunal about his good working relationship with Mr Dennis.
After Mr Boland’s apology 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.
“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.”