Jeweller faces legal battle with ex-store boss 'lover'

RENOWNED Edinburgh jeweller Alistir Tait is being sued for unfair dismissal and sexual harassment by his ex-store manager, who claims she was his lover.

Naomi Hamilton claims she was employed to run Mr Tait's Rose Street shop for around four years after being invited to take over while the pair were in a relationship.

But when their alleged affair ended, Ms Hamilton alleges she had to be signed off work with stress after he subjected her to a campaign of harassment.

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Now the 49-year-old is taking her former boss to an employment tribunal for nearly 14,000 in compensation, claiming she lost out on holiday and sick pay.

Speaking to the Evening News, Ms Hamilton said she had been left "exhausted by the whole ordeal".

Mr Tait, 54, who owns Alistir Wood Tait Antique and Fine Jewellery, said he expected the case to be dismissed before the tribunal takes place.

A gemologist, jeweller and goldsmith, Mr Tait has had the shop on Rose Street for more than 25 years.

In a written statement to the tribunal, Ms Hamilton, who lives in north Edinburgh, claimed she began a relationship with Mr Tait in September 2000 and was asked by him to manage the store starting from February 2003.

She alleged that they broke up in July 2007, but she was asked by Mr Tait to take on additional responsibilities as general manager and he would go part-time in February the following year.

She wrote: "Alistir gave me decision-making powers, but withdrew them when it pleased him, without discussion. Short-staffing over many months led to an excessive workload for me, exacerbated by Alistir going part-time earlier than agreed."

Ms Hamilton claimed that Mr Tait began a new relationship with another woman, and replaced his work diary with another diary in which he entered "personal appointments and information about his girlfriend in it".

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She added: "He also stopped speaking to me other than about basic work issues. I felt harassed by this behaviour."

She claims in the tribunal documents that Mr Tait made "sexual suggestions" to her, rang her at her home late at night, and made up reasons for them to meet socially outside work despite their relationship ending.

She also alleges that he bullied her at work through "comments to staff and suppliers that denigrated and/or undermined me", as well as failing to provide her with an employment contract during her time at the shop.

After being signed-off work with stress in November 2007, Ms Hamilton claimed she tried to resolve the situation with Mr Tait, but he "made it impossible for me to carry out my job", and she left the job when her sick note ended in June last year.

"Alistir Tait has taken no notice of my grievances and made no attempt to resolve them or make any adjustments to my working conditions despite the disability and sexual discrimination I was suffering."

Mr Tait today refused all the allegations. "This case is without any merit and I expect it to be dismissed before the tribunal," he said.