Lottery millionaire has to pay £30,000 to ex-worker after ‘mocking’ his religion

A lottery millionaire accused of sacking an employee after mocking his religion has been ordered to pay him £30,000 compensation.

Margaret Loughrey, who scooped a £27million jackpot in the Euromillions draw in 2013, was found to have discriminated against her former general assistant Patrick Breslin over his religion and sex.

This allegedly included by sending a photo of his Virgin Mary statue with a cigarette in its arms and a glass of whiskey in front of it.

An employment tribunal ruled she had subjected the devout Catholic to a “corrosive” campaign of control and humiliation, BelfastLive reports.

She mounted a legal challenge, but lost on Wednesday after the Court of Appeal upheld the original tribunal’s verdict.

Mr Breslin, 35, complained Ms Loughrey and two other employees interfered with his religious statues and personal belongings by taking photographs and sending them to him.

He claimed one photo showed a teddy bear lying on top of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by a text message saying “the puppet you worship is no longer a virgin”.

Another complaint was about a photo of a statue of Catholic Saint Padre Pio lying on top of the Virgin Mary.

Ms Loughrey, 55, of Strabane, Northern Ireland, employed him in 2016 to attend meetings, carry out administrative duties and general labouring.

He moved into one of her properties and relied on her for somewhere to live when no tenancy agreement was provided, the court heard.

Mr Breslin claimed she let herself into the property while he was at work and moved one of his religious statues, before texting: “Did you like where I left your silly person?”

But he claimed when he asked her not to enter the house again she shouted: “I pay your f****** wages, not some make believe puppet.”

He said she complained he was “always running to Mass” and told him he would have to choose between her and God.

However she insisted he had agreed she could access his home to use the washing machine.

She claimed his statues and possessions were “just three girls having a laugh” in harmless incidents he had also found funny.

Her alleged criticism of his church attendance was described as “a bit of banter between friends”.

In June 2016, he was said to have been sacked in a text message which read: “You are f***** Paddy… Get back into the old house, you will need to sign back on.”

He took an employment case against her, claiming she had fired him suddenly and repeatedly ridiculed him for his devout faith as well as his gender.

In December 2018, the tribunal found she had discriminated against him on the grounds of his religion and sex.

The panel also held he had been unfairly dismissed and ordered her to pay him £30,000 for injury to his feelings.

Ms Loughrey appealed, arguing the award was manifestly excessive.

But Lord Justice Treacy dismissed the challenge.

He said: “His employer had openly mocked his religion, to him and to the colleagues she brought with her into his home.

“She desecrated his religious statues and, in her role as employer, instructed two of his colleagues to be actively complicit in it."

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