The former chief executive of iconic British shoe brand Clarks has embarked on a legal battle against the company, claiming he was not given a chance to answer misconduct claims before being ousted.
Mike Shearwood will allege at an employment tribunal, starting tomorrow in Bristol, that he was given a list of allegations at a board meeting last June, just hours before his departure was announced, the Sunday Times reported.
Read more: Don’t hand control to the machines just yet
He claims the charges were trumped up as he was about to blow the whistle on the company’s questionable accounts.
The chief executive is alleged to have called black people “violent” and used the word “darkies” in a text. He is also supposed to have called a wholesale customer a “f***ing faggot”.
The allegations also claim that Shearwood called an Asian woman a “thing”, asked a gay colleague intrusive questions about her sexuality, and boasted about the size of his son’s penis.
However, Shearwood denies the allegations, or claims they were taken out of context. The “darkies” comment, he said, was made as a joke. It was texted alongside a picture of the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen, peering out from behind a curtain as guests left the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Shearwood listed several claims about the state the company is in, including alleging it was almost insolvent when he joined in 2016.
He also said that worries over potential breaches of sanctions on Iran had help up a refinancing deal. And to cover up the problems, minutes from board meets and accounts were altered.
In a statement, the shoemaker said Shearwood was “fabricating a frivolous and vexatious narrative surrounding his time at Clarks purely with the intent of eliciting a termination payment from the business.”
“Clarks rejects all allegations raised by Mr Shearwood and we stand by our decision in relation to Mr Shearwood’s termination.”