Wife who was made redundant by her husband fails in bid to sue him for age discrimination after falsely claiming he left her for a younger woman
- Eleanor Belson’s discrimination claims were dismissed by tribunal in London
- She claimed her husband Tim was ‘ageist’ in deciding to end their marriage
A wealthy accountant sued her ex-Olympian husband for age discrimination because she thought he had left her for a younger woman.
Eleanor Belson took spouse Tim to an employment tribunal, claiming he was ‘ageist’ in ending their marriage and making her redundant from his upmarket jewellery business.
The claim was one of many extraordinary allegations the 60 year old made against her husband of 11 years, insisting at the hearing that he was taking ‘revenge’ by getting rid of her.
Following the week long hearing in central London, the accountant’s discrimination claims were dismissed after the tribunal ruled that it was actually her who left the marriage and that Mr Belson’s new girlfriend is in fact older than her.
However she won a claim of unfair dismissal and is now in line to receive compensation from her husband’s company.
Wealthy accountant Eleanor Belson (left) sued her ex-Olympian husband Tim Belson (right) for age discrimination because she thought he had left her for a younger woman. Mrs Belson her took spouse to an employment tribunal, claiming he was ‘ageist’ in ending their marriage and making her redundant from his upmarket jewellery business
The case revealed details about the married couple’s ‘very acrimonious’ divorce including squabbles over Thames riverside penthouses worth millions of pounds.
It also featured accusations that she had an affair with an elderly neighbour who changed his will to benefit her by $1 million, trips to Antigua, missing Picasso prints, ‘sex objects’ being sent through the post, and jibes about Mrs Belson’s ‘poor cooking skills’.
Mrs Belson even alleged that her 72 year old husband stole £91,500 from a trust fund which belonged to a disabled care home resident, claiming he was guilty of money laundering, financial abuse and embezzlement.
Mr Belson served as a Captain in the 1 Gloucestershire Regiment of the British Army for ten years, carrying out covert operations in Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, while simultaneously being a member of the British Fencing team from 1971 to 1981.
He competed in the individual and team épée events at the 1976 Summer Olympics and was crowned National Épée Champion in 1975 and 1978.
In 2009 he married Mrs Belson and she worked as book-keeper at his company in Hatton Garden, London, called Jewellery Validation Service, which trades as Prestige Valuations.
The couple lived in a £1.2 million apartment in a highly-sought after block of flats on the Thames in Wapping, east London.
The tribunal heard that their relationship started to sour with Mr Belson alleging that his wife went on holiday with her elderly neighbour in Antigua and started an affair with him in the early part of 2021.
Upon her return from the Caribbean island, she began living with the man – named in the tribunal judgment only as ‘Mr Y’ – in his £1.8 million apartment in the same block of flats, just a few doors from their marital home.
Mr Belson served as a Captain in the 1 Gloucestershire Regiment of the British Army for ten years, carrying out covert operations in Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s, while simultaneously being a member of the British Fencing team from 1971 to 1981. Above: Mr Belson (left) with fellow fencer Ralph Johnson, after they pulled out of the Olympics in Moscow in 1980
Mr Belson claimed at the hearing that Mr Y amended his will to leave Mrs Belson $1 million and that she made ‘an unsigned revision to her will leaving all her property to Mr Y’.
She dismissed the accusation, saying he is 83, ‘old’, and gay – but Mr Belson hit back saying ‘Mr Y is only 76 and fit’ and that the pair have been spotted ‘shopping in Waitrose’ together.
The tribunal heard that in the summer of 2021 Mrs Belson and Mr Y bought a £1.2 million flat together – in the same apartment building on the Thames and just three doors from the marital home.
However, the hearing was told Mr Belson was unaware of the purchase and at work they began protracted settlement discussions as part of her exit from the company amid the start of divorce proceedings.
Mrs Belson believed Mr Belson was ‘motivated’ to get rid of her from his business because he had found love with a ‘younger woman’, Julie Lawn – despite her being older.
Mrs Belson then went on to accuse her husband of ‘criminal intention’ by alleging he lost £91,500 belonging to a disabled person by investing it.
Police were involved but dropped their investigation, with Mr Belson saying he simply held it in his account for a time then moved it.
The couple argued over Mr Belson changing the locks after his wife used a key to enter the marital home and take paintings, it was also heard.
Mrs Belson claimed ‘sexual objects had been sent to her in the post between September 2021 and April 2022 by Mr Belson or a person associated with him’, it was also heard.
And, she wrongly claimed Mr Belson believed ‘women should be practising their cooking skills rather than pursuing careers’.
In 2022, when Mr Belson caught wind of Mrs Belson buying the flat with Mr Y, negotiations were derailed as Mr Belson brought forward her exit from the company by sacking her immediately.
He thought it made a huge difference to the divorce settlement as instead of owing her £150,000, he thought she owned him hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The tribunal ruled this amounted to unfair dismissal and wrongful dismissal, and that she is entitled to be paid five weeks’ notice.
Employment Judge Holly Stout said: ‘On February 28, 2022, Mr Belson emailed Mrs Belson stating that the Board had decided to make her position redundant with immediate effect as it had been ‘decided to manage our accountancy systems in a different way to the current methods’.
‘Termination was with immediate effect. There was no payment for any period of notice, no redundancy payment and no appeal offered.
‘The reason why she was dismissed by Mr Belson on February 28, 2022, was, we find, not because she was redundant but because he… had discovered that she was one of the joint legal owners of flat 58 and [he] thought that in the light of that it was probable that actually she would be required to pay Mr Belson money at the conclusion of the divorce proceedings rather than the other way round.’
Mrs Belson’s claims of age, disability and marital status discrimination as well as whistle blowing detriments all failed.
The tribunal found Mr Belson’s new partner, 63 year old Ms Lawn, is older than her.
Mr Belson is seen in his days as an Olympic fencer for Great Britain
Judge Stout said: ‘We reject Mrs Belson’s evidence that Mr Belson was motivated by her age on the basis that he had ‘left her for a younger woman’.
‘We accept Mr Belson’s evidence that as a matter of fact his new girlfriend is older than Mrs Belson.
‘Further, it is clear that it was Mrs Belson who left the marital relationship. This was not a case of Mr Belson instigating a relationship break-up because he had met a younger woman.
‘We do not consider that age had anything to do with it.
‘Whether or not Mr Belson’s new girlfriend can be perceived as younger or older than Mrs Belson, this is not as we see it a case of Mr Belson ending his relationship with her on “ageist” grounds or in search of a younger partner.’
Judge Stout said it is not for the tribunal to determine whether Mr Belson acted inappropriately relating to the trust fund allegations but said it could be found that he did ‘nothing improper’.
Mrs Belson will receive compensation for unfair dismissal at a later date.
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