Former Leadmill promoter Rupert Dell believes the Sheffield venue is out to destroy his career even after he was obligated to pay the venue more than £370,000 (nearly $525,000 US). According to Jon Chapple at IQ Mag, the former General Manager of the Sheffield venue was ordered to pay damages to Leadmill for breach of contract in a judgement brought down on March 30.
Leadmill accused Dell of various “wholly inappropriate and unlawful” actions, including falsifying trading figures, harassing and bullying staff and diverting business to competitor venues following his dismissal, according to IQ.
The complaint against Dell focused mainly on an allegedly inappropriate relationship between the former promoter and a female employee, who the venue says Dell allegedly used his position of power to sexually harass his subordinate. Court documents refer to the employee only as AB.
The court order reads: “Between 6 January 2014 and 5 February 2014, [Dell] managed AB, interacted with her and demonstrated a level of intimacy with her that was inappropriate for the general manager of the claimant [the Leadmill] to a subordinate employee – particularly a young subordinate that the defendant [Dell] knew was vulnerable – and was an abuse of the defendant’s position of power and influence as general manager.”
Dell was also accused of nurturing a hostile workplace with “inappropriate banter” about employees’ sexuality and weight, falsifying numbers at the venue, and breaching his post-termination restrictions by booking at least three shows at rival venue, The Plug.
In a letter to IQ, Dell has come out against the allegations and the judgement stating “all they wanted to achieve was the destruction of my character and all I have achieved and worked for over 25 years.”
Dell continued “This was a civil action in a civil court brought by Phil Mills (Leadmill Director) and the Leadmill. Attempts were made to bring the matter to a conclusion, but the Leadmill continued to pursue the matter in the full knowledge that they had little prospect of recovering the hundreds of thousands of pounds that they had spent on pursuing the civil case against me. Due to lack of funds I was unable to contest the case in court and therefore I believe my evidence was not heard by the judge.”
Dell, who also previously worked for Goldenvoice UK and DHP Family, suggests that the complaint against him was for anti-Semetic sentiments on the part of Mills and the venue.
“From the outset of this matter, I raised many counter issues in my defence such as what, in my opinion, are anti-Semitic comments that were made against me – a committed and practising member of the Jewish community – during my employment, by an employee of the Leadmill on social media and on the work email. I presented evidence of these comments and the grievance was branded as being vexatious by Phil Mills,” Dell said, adding that an email address has been set up to harass him and his family.
“It now appears that an abusive Gmail account has been set up, designed to invite harassment and abuse of my family and me, despite the legal process having ended some months ago. I believe that this is vindictive and unnecessary. I am taking legal advice on this and have raised it with the police,” Dell said.
Dell believes these actions, in addition to the venue dispersing information via press release about the judgement, have been taken to further impugn his reputation.
“This has been a four-year case which has hung heavily over our staff. It has been a long and expensive struggle but we are determined to defend and protect both our staff’s and the Leadmill’s reputations. The findings of Her Honour Judge Richardson are now a matter of public record, for which we thank her,” said Leadmill’s current GM, Ian Lawlor, in the release. “We now return to our main focus. The venue is unique in this country, having been independently run for its near 40-year existence. We are concentrating on doing what we do best: creating exciting and memorable events for everyone, in a welcoming and safe environment.”