Following the recent report of a notorious court action in the UK actuated by the racist abuse of an asian art dealer by dismissed employee Lou Proud, former head of photography at Phillips auction house in London, the Economic Times has learned that she faces further charges following a complaints to the Commission for Racial Equality arising from the original court action. The Economic Times publishes below the second part of an interview with Paul De Bono, head of operations at Phillips UK who was responsible for Proud's summary dismissal. We again thank Mr Anthony Jayes for releasing documents and emails relevant to the original complaint on which this interview is based. We believe it is of topical interest following a dramatic rise in racist attacks on Muslim and Hindu communities in the UK and Europe.
reporting by Anand Jaisingh with additional reporting by Mr J. Mehta and Reuters .
Anand jaisingh: Mr De Bono, having reviewed Nicola Mason's emails and those disclosed to us by Mr Jayes, it does appear that you sought to reverse your original position once the extent of Proud's racist activities were revealed ?
Paul De Bono: I would deny that as would Ms Mason , I suspect. As I mentioned , we were legally obliged to take Proud's allegations seriously with the limited information available to us . Nicola Mason tried to be even handed towards both parties' interests; once it was clear that Proud had been using racist language in emails sent from her work address her position as a Phillips employee became untenable and she was dismissed. It was made clear to her that Phillips would not support her were to she to pursue court proceedings and that she would have to seek independent legal advice rather than relying on the company's lawyers.
Jaisingh: Proud is facing further criminal charges arising out of complaints made to the CRE by Mr Jayes , including allegations of bullying of Jayes's client by you and your department. The language you used, and the sanctions your department imposed on Jayes's client could be interpreted as being discriminatory , or so Jayes and his client asserted in correspondence to you.
De Bono: The language used in department correspondence was in no was discriminatory ; it was exemplary in that it followed to the letter guidelines laid down by Phillips's legal team.
Jaisingh: Why did Constantine Cannon refuse to engage in further correspondence with Jayes , even after the offensive emails from Ms Proud's server were disclosed to your department ?
De Bono: We didn't to run up huge legal costs on a relatively minor matter. We decided to handle any complaints internally . I cannot comment further on matters regarding current litigation or allegations or charges against Ms Proud as she is no longer employed by Phillips in any capacity.
Jaisingh: Ms Godwin - Brown has been interviewed elsewhere about her role in this matter and her alleged use of racist language which led to her dismissal from Phillips. Do you have any comment to make ?
De Bono: I know she was dismissed but I can't comment as the complaints that led to her dismissal were dealt with by another department. It is alleged that she used racist language when describing Jayes's client and I did see a statement to that effect but I cannot comment as to whether that or other issues led to her dismissal .
Jaisingh: You and Nicola Mason claimed that only three personnel at Phillips knew of the pending litigation between Ms Proud and Jayes's client, That proved to be untrue as documents reveal it was common knowledge at both Phillips UK and US and prejudicial to and defamatory of Jayes's client.
De Bono : I'm not aware that it was common knowledge although Proud may have broadcast her concerns to her colleagues in her department . She's not known for her discretion which led to other issues that cumulatively led to her dismissal. You'd need to ask her or Nicola Mason as she was corresponding directly with Jayes on the import of the emails disclosed from Proud's work address.
Jaisingh : You denied that Proud was a racist. But Jayes believes she is and her emails and disclosed texts suggest she is a racist , and to quote Jayes ' irrefutably' so.
De Bono: I agree that some of her reported comments might be interpreted as racist. I had very little interaction with her so I'm unable to assert definitively that she is racist. She was questioned closely by management and she admitted she had lied and was confused about dates and events on which her complaints hinged.
Jaisingh: Surely her payment of £10,000 in settlement to avoid a court hearing suggests that the allegations against her were true and based on fact, not supposition ?
De Bono: Yes, I suppose it could be interpreted as such but she was no longer a Phillips employee so I can't comment authoritatively . I have no knowledge that such a payment was made as I have neither seen nor spoken to her since she was dismissed. We discharged our duty of care whilst she was employed at Phillips and that was , and is, the extent of our involvement in her personal and professional life.
Jaisingh: Is it true that Proud has been dismissed from her recent appointment as art advisor to a middle eastern company ?
De Bono : I wouldn't know.
Jaisingh : Your company paid for her psychiatric therapy after a particularly traumatic incident in 2010.
De Bono: I think I know what you're referring to.
Jaisingh : Did Proud receive a severance package after her dismissal ?
De Bono : I won't discuss that.
Jaisingh: Do you believe , as Anthony Jayes has asserted , that the English are inherently racist and the working classes particularly so ?
De Bono : I'm not English so I can't comment. I think that's a gross generalisation and I can't imagine on what basis he'd make such an assertion.
Jaisingh: Was Proud insecure about her class ? Alex Godwin Brown claimed she was .
De Bono : Yes, I'd say that's true.
Jaisingh : She was described by a former employer as ' chippy and resentful '.
De Bono: I can't comment. As I said, I had very little interaction with her.
Jaisingh : Thank you Mr De Bono