A butler to a multi-millionaire couple who claimed they sacked him after he developed skin cancer has failed in a bid to sue for discrimination.
Jeremy Horwell alleged he was fired by successful Roger Boyland and Kay Brandeaux Boyland because his regular medical appointments became a nuisance for them.
Horwell served the couple for six years, flying around the world with them to their homes in Geneva, the south of France, and Barbados, before he was made redundant from his post as head butler in July 2021.
Following a heated row at the Boyland’s large property in the south of France, Mr Horwell claimed the redundancy was a ‘sham’ and that he was discriminated against for having skin cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2016.
However, an employment tribunal ruled the couple simply didn’t have any work for their butler due to new rules imposed as a result of Brexit, and dismissed his claims of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal.
Jeremy Horwell (pictured) the butler to a multi-millionaire couple who claimed they sacked him after he developed skin cancer has failed in a bid to sue for discrimination
Mr Boyland and Mrs Brandeaux Boyland made their fortune investing in the student housing giant Liberty Living when student accommodation boomed.
They also own a property in London and the 38-room country house called Shenton Hall in Warwickshire.
The couple, now both 79, reportedly paid £26 million for their hilltop mansion in Switzerland which overlooks Lake Geneva.
The tribunal, held in Birmingham, was told that for tax reasons, the couple could not spend more than 120 days a year in the UK.
Mr Horwell was employed as the couple’s butler in September 2015, and the hearing was told he enjoyed a close relationship with them, particularly Mrs Brandeaux Boyland.
In May 2016 Mr Horwell was diagnosed with an ‘aggressive’ form of skin cancer, but continued to work.
His duties involved him being with the Boylands wherever they went – working at their homes in Geneva, France, London, Barbados, and at Shenton Hall.
However, after the Covid-19 pandemic issues started to arise.
Shortly before Mr Horwell was due to go for surgery in September 2020 to remove a small tumour under his left armpit, one of the Boylands’ French employees visited the UK and was required to quarantine.
Mr Horwell claimed his health was put at risk because the French employee was allowed to quarantine at Shenton Hall.
The Boylands argued he lived in his own home not far from the Hall and that as Shenton Hall is ‘very large’ the guest could quarantine safely in one of its 38 rooms, away from Mr Horwell.
Mr Boyland and Mrs Brandeaux Boyland now both 79, reportedly paid £26 million for their hilltop mansion in Switzerland which overlooks Lake Geneva (pictured)
After the UK exited the EU, the tribunal heard Mr Horwell could no longer lawfully work in France or Switzerland.
And while he could still work in Barbados, the Boylands’ desire to travel diminished due to their age and they were put off going to their home in the Caribbean.
Rules show that Mr Horwell would have needed to purchase a work visa to be able to work in France for longer than 90 days. It is not clear if he did.
By the summer of 2021, the Boylands questioned whether it was viable to continue employing Mr Horwell and they invited him to their home in France.
When they attempted to speak to him about the issue, the butler was ‘agitated’ and shouted. Mr Boyland bluntly told him: ‘I don’t have a job for you in the UK, we are not there.’
Mr Horwell was made redundant at the end of July 2021. At the tribunal he alleged that the redundancy was a ‘sham’ and he was discriminated against for having to attend medical appointments.
Employment Judge Christopher Gaskell dismissed his claims of disability discrimination and unfair dismissal against Mr Boyland and Shenton Properties Ltd.
Judge Gaskell said: ‘In our judgement, the suggestion that the decision to dismiss Mr Horwell was made because of the need for him to attend for medical treatment and checkups simply does not bear scrutiny.
‘[The Boylands] had been aware of his condition for over five years by the time of his dismissal. On Mr Horwell’s own account they had been supportive throughout.
‘No credible reason has been advanced as to why there should be such a dramatic change of approach.’
The multi-millionaire couple also own a property in London and the 38-room country house called Shenton Hall (pictured) in Warwickshire
The judge added: ‘It is Mr Horwell’s case that there was no redundancy situation, that his alleged redundancy was a sham.
‘But the circumstances leading to the decision that he was redundant are in our judgement clear and obvious.
‘The need for someone to carry out [his] duties was diminishing by reason of the Boylands’ age; their response to Covid; and their decision to give up their home in Barbados.
‘The ability for him to provide those duties to the Boylands was diminishing by reference to the fact that he could no longer work in France or Switzerland.
‘It is difficult to see how this combination produces anything other than a classic redundancy situation.’