Leeds & West Yorkshire

Leeds United employee Lucy Ward 'ruled the roost' at work

Lucy Ward Image copyright Getty Images/BBC
Image caption Lucy Ward was Leeds United's education and welfare officer, and also worked for the BBC as a pundit at the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada

A Leeds United employee "ruled the roost" in work due to her relationship with the club's head coach, a tribunal has heard.

Lucy Ward says she was sacked because she was Neil Redfearn's partner, and is claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination.

Giving evidence on the third day of the hearing, Leeds United secretary Stuart Hayton said "people closely linked can cause difficulties in a club".

The club denies any improper conduct.

In 2015, Ms Ward, who worked as the club's education and welfare officer, travelled to Canada to work as a BBC pundit at the 2015 Women's World Cup.

The club claims Ms Ward, who worked at the club's academy, was dismissed for exceeding her annual leave entitlement while away with the BBC.

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Mr Hayton, a witness at the tribunal, said Ms Ward was a strong character who "intimidated" her line manager and "was ruling the roost".

He said: "When you work in football, people closely linked can cause difficulties in a club."

He later said "it always would have been difficult for her to remain at the academy when Mr Redfearn had left", and described their relationship as a "potential conflict of interest".

The club also claimed Ms Ward consistently took Wednesdays off work, despite no specific authorisation.

But Ms Ward's legal team said she worked from home on Wednesdays, and had "worked this pattern" for 11 years without question.

Ms Ward previously told the hearing she had been "treated like a piece of meat" in the way she was sacked by the club.

The tribunal continues.

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