Grenfell accountant wins payout after colleague accused him of having affair

Accountant Francis Austin, who was paid the equivalent of £150,000 a year, hired Monika Newton on £450 a day for his finance team.

12/2/2021 9:30:00 AM

Accountant Francis Austin, who was paid the equivalent of £150,000 a year, hired Monika Newton on £450 a day for his finance team.

Francis Austin and Monika Newton were accused of sneaking off to have sex while they were supposed to be dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy.

Francis Austin and Monika Newton were accused of sneaking off to have sex (Picture: PA)Two workers accused of sneaking off to have sex while they were supposed to be dealing with the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy have won a sex harassment case.

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Accountant Francis Austin, who was paid the equivalent of £150,000 a year, hired Monika Newton on £450 a day for his finance team.Both were supporting Kensington andChelseaCouncil’s response to the deadly fire at the block of flats.But an employment tribunal heard his deputy Lesley Shields suspected they were ‘ducking off’ together — and called Ms Newton a ‘c**t’ and a ‘b****’ to colleagues.

When they left for one appointment, she told a co-worker they must have gone to a hotel for sex. Mr Austin and Ms Newton have now sued the council.Ms Shields told the central London hearing Mr Austin’s behaviour changed after Ms Newton’s 2019 appointment. headtopics.com

‘He came into work late and went home early, and often took Ms Newton for lunch’, she said. ‘There were grumbles in the team. Mr Austin was going to all of Ms Newton’s meetings.’The tribunal was told Ms Shields was ‘frustrated’ when they appeared ‘to be wasting time and money’ by leaving for an afternoon.

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She said ‘she’s sucking his c**k about now’ — but ‘regretted it immediately and apologised’.Mr Austin was accused of ‘ducking off with Ms Newton (Picture: LinkedIn)Ms Newton sued the council, alongside her former colleague72 people tragically died when a fire ripped through West London’s 24-story Grenfell tower (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)

On hearing Ms Shields told people she suspected an affair, Ms Newton complained of harassment, leading to the deputy getting a warning.Ms Newton’s short-term contract wasn’t renewed for April 2020, while Mr Austin’s was terminated soon after.But the panel, chaired by Judge Natasha Joffe, has ruled Ms Shields’ remarks were sexual harassment and created a ‘humiliating environment’.

Unless the pair and council come to an agreement, a hearing will determine compensation next year.

Read more: Metro »

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