Married Sussex MP in ‘drunken fling’ claim

Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman
Bexhill and Battle MP Huw Merriman

A City lawyer is claiming £250,000 compensation after she was pursued for an affair by her married boss, who is now a Tory MP, following an alleged drunken one-night stand, it was claimed today.

Patronia Campbell, 49, claims she had a fling with Huw Merriman MP for Bexhill and Battle, after boozy works drinks in June 2011 when they were colleagues at the administrators of collapsed Lehman Brothers International Europe (LBIE).

But she claims that after she rejected his pleas to have an affair, managing director Mr Merriman, who apparently said he wanted to marry her, subjected her to unjustified criticism of her performance, engineered situations to allow others to criticise her, and also gave her unfair ratings in an annual review.

Ms Campbell, who earned £130,000 a year plus bonuses, is now taking the bank to the East London employment tribunal claiming she was harassed, victimised and unfairly dismissed.

She was eventually signed off work “feeling like a zombie.”

Mr Merriman, who became and MP 2015, married in 2001 and has three young daughters, denies the one night stand took place.

Ms Campbell, who claims Mr Merriman was a notorious womaniser who had a string of affairs, said he wanted to marry her after a Christmas lunch in 2012.

Describing the alleged one night stand Ms Campbell, who said the pair had previously worked together at Greenwich NatWest, told the hearing: “Most people were drunk, as was I.

“Huw Merriman asked me if he could stay at my house as he had missed the last train home, he lives in Sussex.

“As I was living with my friend in Limehouse, I cleared it for Huw to sleep on the sofa and we travelled back. I can’t remember how we got there.

“Huw and I cooked and drank more wine. We discussed our time at Greenwich NatWest, he kissed me after dinner and we ended up in my bed and had sex.

“I woke up in his arms; he asked me if I was ok and I said yes but that it would never happen again.

“He said that he loved me, that he would no doubt become obsessed with me as he ‘knew what he was like’.

“He said that he was ‘turned on’ by me in the office, especially my legs. This remark made me feel queasy. I’d sobered up, I couldn’t believe what had happened.

“I tried to trivialise it, I said we could get past this and that it was not a complete surprise that this happened given our history.

“However, I did ask why he felt the need to do this when he had a lovely wife and children, by all accounts.

“He refused to answer and got agitated when I pressed him for an answer so I let it drop. I just wanted him to leave.”

According to Ms Campbell, the only person she told about the alleged one night stand was her sister, but did reveal her house mate would have known Mr Merriman had slept in her bed.

Ms Campbell told the tribunal their previous relationship in the late 1990s was not sexual and she ended it because Mr Merriman had a girlfriend in New York, who later became his wife.

Following a Christmas lunch at The Gun pub in 2012 Mr Merriman “insinuated” he wanted a sexual relationship, she told the tribunal.

Ms Campbell, of Harrow, said she wanted to stay sober as she was “nervous about being around Huw Merriman” and spoke to him outside in the smoking area.

She said: “Huw was drunk, I’d stopped drinking once the lunch finished, so was relatively sober.

“He complained that I had ‘dumped’ him, referring to me ending our relationship in 1998.

“I said that was not the case and that I had no choice as he had a girlfriend in New York.

“He claimed he wanted to marry me and that he still wanted to ‘be with’ me. It was obvious that he meant that wanted to sleep with me again.”

Earlier she said the pair lost touch but in 2010 she contacted Mr Merriman about working at Lehman Brothers.

She claims she was warned about joining the company a mutual friend who said Mr Merriman was impossible to work with.

Ms Campbell said: “She also heard that he had a reputation with the women and heard he had harassed a secretary. Huw Merriman had not personally harassed her.

“To the best of my knowledge, personnel at LBIE pre and post the administration were aware that Huw Merriman had a tendency to conduct extra-marital affairs and sexually harass women.

“Despite this, I made excuses for him, I also knew of his affairs but I doubted that he was a bully.”

The tribunal also heard about another incident of alleged harassment at a Christmas work lunch in 2013, when her ‘secret Santa’ gift from another colleague was a male doll with a corkscrew for a penis.

She said she receiving the gift at the lunch had “humiliated” her in front the entire legal team.

After the alleged mistreatment Ms Campbell presented a grievance, which was dismissed at a grievance appeal, which she alleges were acts of victimisation.

She was eventually made redundant from the company at the end of 2014 which she claims was unfair as she was unfairly selected for redundancy.

Mr Merriman denies he had sex with Ms Campbell, though he admits he went to her house to stay the night because he had missed his train.

He also denies wanting to rekindle their relationship saying they did have a private conversation at the pub, but it was relating to her poor performance in the first year and a half.

The hearing continues and is scheduled to last until Friday next week.

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