Personal assistant who was sacked by her boss after ‘humiliating’ him by turning up to a charity ball with her strongman boyfriend LOSES sexual harassment claim after judge rules she led him on with ‘hopes and beliefs for a shared future’

  • Judge ruled PA was happy to be paid while remaining ‘a lady of leisure’

When a personal assistant was fired after her wealthy boss realized she would never share his bed, a victory at the tribunal seemed assured.

The penny finally started to drop for smitten Peter Metcalfe when Emma Hennell-Whittington arrived at his transport company’s charity ball with her boyfriend – an Ultimate Strongman competitor nicknamed ‘the Beast of the North East’.

She was fired from her job, which paid £30,000 a year for ten hours’ work a week, plus a shower of gifts. ‘Humiliated’ Mr Metcalfe was candid about why, the tribunal heard.

Yet Ms Hennell-Whittington’s sexual harassment and discrimination claim has been dismissed. After a ruling, she knew his intentions and was happy to be paid while remaining ‘a lady of leisure’.

Judge Kirti Jeram said: ‘Mr Metcalfe’s hopes and beliefs for a shared future have been developed and perpetuated by her.’

Peter Metcalfe sacked his PA Emma Hennell-Whittington after discovering she had another boyfriend

The 54-year-old fell in love with Ms Hennell-Whittington, then in her late 30s, when he went into business with the Stockton fertilizer company she worked for in early 2021.

Flirty banter ensued, it was said. A tribunal in Newcastle was told she suggested employing her as his PA – he responded saying he could see her as a ‘lady of leisure’.

In May 2021, he told her: “I am not a player, but a man who has met someone I really like. I really want to make you very happy.” Ms Hennell-Whittington reminded him she was in a relationship but was fine with meetings “to see where things might lead”.

The newly published judgment states: ‘At no time, until the termination of the employment relationship, did she inform him that she had no romantic interest.’

Mr Metcalfe made declarations of love, and the judgment said: ‘She did not respond… nor did she ask him to stop.’

It adds that he believed there was a “possibility to explore a romantic relationship in the not-so-distant future,” and that “she knew this was his hope and took no steps to undermine it.”

In August 2021, Mr Metcalfe hired her as his PA. “She refused or avoided duties at her own discretion,” the hearing was told. When she asked for VW Tiguan and Honda Civic cars, he bought them and offered £45,000 to buy out her then fiancé’s share of her house.

Ms Hennell-Whittington brought her 'friend from the gym', construction boss Alan Grieves, to a charity ball hosted by Mr Metcalfe's firm in July 2022, leading to her immediate dismissal

Ms Hennell-Whittington brought her ‘friend from the gym’, construction boss Alan Grieves, to a charity ball hosted by Mr Metcalfe’s firm in July 2022, leading to her immediate dismissal

Thousands more went for private dentistry, Botox, clothes and makeup for her daughter’s prom. Things only fell apart at the July 2022 charity ball of Mr Metcalfe’s transport company, W Metcalfe and Sons. After asking if she could bring ‘her friend from her gym’, Ms Hennell-Whittington arrived with construction boss, ‘Big’ Alan Grieves, 32.

She had told Mr Metcalfe she was about to leave her estranged partner, but new love Mr Grieves was not mentioned.

Mr Metcalfe fired her immediately, with a two-month payout.

Judge Jeram said: ‘We reject her claim that his affection grew in a vacuum, without any reciprocity, encouragement or input from her.’ Mr Metcalfe declined to comment.