Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Ex-aide withdraws charges against McLaren’s Dennis

AFP , LONDON

A former employee of Ron Dennis apologized on Tuesday over “unfounded” allegations of racism and homophobia against the McLaren Formula One team boss.

Peter Boland, who worked as a steward on Dennis’ private jet, had claimed that when Dennis had boarded the jet in the Middle East he said he wanted to wash his hands because he had been “shaking hands with Arabs all day.”

During a tribunal hearing in Southampton he also alleged that he had been discriminated against and victimized by Dennis over rumors of his sexual orientation.

But on Tuesday the 27-year-old, who was sacked by Dennis in May 2007 after working for him for five years, apologized unreservedly for the allegations.

“I have decided to withdraw my action against Mr Dennis and all respondents in the case,” he said. “I unreservedly apologize to Mr Dennis and all respondents, and to the Southampton Employment Tribunal, for wasting their time with what I now realize were unfounded allegations,” he said.

Dennis welcomed the move.

“Clearly, I and all at McLaren, and all the other respondents, have been totally vindicated by the complete and unequivocal withdrawal and unreserved apology by Peter Boland,” he said.

“This case has been hurtful, irritating and unnecessary, in the sense that no impropriety ever took place, which fact Mr Boland now concedes,” he said.

On Monday, Dennis had branded the racism allegation an “absolute lie” and “ridiculous.”

Dennis said Boland had been sacked because he was not doing his job properly, had fallen asleep while working on the jet and had been rude to guests.

At the tribunal, the businessman agreed he had not followed procedures when dismissing Boland but said this had been done out of a desire to reach an amicable settlement.

Dennis denied he had fired Boland because of rumors he was gay.

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