Cellino DID make those sexist comments, tribunal says as Redfearn’s partner wins unfair dismissal case against Leeds United

Former Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn and his partner Lucy Ward.
Former Leeds United manager Neil Redfearn and his partner Lucy Ward.

The partner of former Leeds United coach Neil Redfearn has won her claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against the club - as a tribunal panel said they believed owner Massimo Cellino had made sexist comments about the place of women in football.

The Leeds panel described former Leeds United Academy welfare officer Lucy Ward as an honest and truthful witness as they gave their judgement.

She wept as the decision was announced.

And the panel said they believed Cellino had made sexist comments to the manager of the United women’s team that women had no place in football and belonged in the bedroom or at the beauticians.

The panel also judged former Leeds United executive director Adam Pearson not to have been a ‘credible or reliable’ witness when he gave evidence at the hearing to defend the decision to sack Ms Ward.

The hearing was told: “He was evasive and inconsistent.”

Earlier, the tribunal heard that the sacking of Ms Ward was “a fit-up job”.

She was claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination against the Elland Road club.

In his closing submissions to the tribunal panel, her QC Nicholas Randall called the affair “an utter, total shambles”, and questioned why United’s owner Massimo Cellino had chosen not to give evidence.

The club claimed Ms Ward was sacked because she took an excessive amount of holiday in order to work as a commentator for the BBC at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

But Mr Randall said: “The claimant (Ms Ward) was not hiding anything. My word, she was on the BBC in Canada commentating. She was open about her working pattern.”

He added: “What we know from the outset is that they were talking about the claimant.

“Mr Cellino - bang! - he is there right at the beginning of the process. Good old Mr Cellino.

“They were talking about her. Mr Pearson talked about the nature of the discussions. They were very robust in that she has got to go.”

“They also knew that she had permission. Amazing.”

He added: “It was a fit up job.”

Mr Randall asked the panel to consider why Cellino had not attended the tribunal to give evidence.

He said: “Mr Cellino is not here even though we know the principle allegation relates to him.

“It is quite clear that Lucy Ward was making other comments about his sexist attitude.”

He added: “You must presume that Mr Cellino would give damning evidence about his own attitudes.

“This has been an utter, total shambles.”

The barrister also referred to the allegations that Ms Ward was sacked as she came “as a pair” with Redfearn.

He said: “It is atrocious. To say these two people came as a pair. It’s the oldest dinosaur comment you can imagine.

“It shows stereotypical sexist assumptions about bred winners and the fact that woman cannot have an independent career.”

Earlier, United’s club secretary denied that there was a “culture of discrimination” at the club.

Stuart Hayton, asked about his initial reaction after finding out about Ms Ward’s claims, said: “It was quite a shock that she would think such a thing - that Leeds United and the people connected with Leeds United would treat someone unfairly because of their gender.

“During my time working for the club I have not found any evidence that the club has any culture of discrimination.”

Mr Hayton also claimed Ms Ward began to “rule the roost” at Leeds’ Thorp Arch training base after she began a relationship with Redfearn.”