An Australian businessman has been awarded a payout of more than £100,000 after winning a racial discrimination case against his British wife who said she hated his country's "mentality", a tribunal has ruled.
Duncan Bendall took his wife, Fiona, and their company The Female Social Network (TFSN) to an employment tribunal claiming he was discriminated against because he is a man and due to his nationality when he was pushed out of the firm.
He also claimed unfair dismissal after she ousted him following the breakdown of their marriage.
An employment judge awarded him more than £100,000 for race discrimination and unfair dismissal, but rejected his claims he was fired due to his gender.
The tribunal heard Mr Bendall received an email from his wife three months before he was sacked in August last year in which she said: "I hate Australian mentality and you have it [in] droves just sh**…And DO NOT say you are a founder in MY business MY efforts ever again You Leech - you don't even believe in women or have ever stuck your neck out."
Mr Bendall claimed he was dismissed as a result of his gender and nationality, and told the panel his wife "kept treating Australia as an inferior race" despite the couple living there for 15 years.
He told the hearing: "It just made me feel small and like she was putting me down. It seemed she was only saying all this because now she was back in England.
"The board had clearly chosen to back an English female and remove an Australian male."
The tribunal heard Mr Bendall and his ex-wife, 42, set up a company called Bendalls in Australia in 2004, before setting up The Female Social Network in 2016.
It then became a global company and the couple have been pictured with Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York at the UK launch last June.
Mrs Bendall, who is British, began running the UK company in London and her husband came to join her in around April last year.
But upon his arrival, the couple were experiencing relationship problems and as their marriage broke down, Mr Bendall told the tribunal he was harassed and victimised by his wife and the board in a bid to erase his contribution as a founder of the firm.
He said it began when the board forced through a shift in the share holdings, from 50/50 to 51/49 in favour of Mrs Bendall.
The claimant alleged this was so his wife could say the company was female-owned to boost investment as a feminist company.
He then found he had been locked out of the company bank accounts and told he was no longer a director of the firm, without any indication of why this was happening, he said.
Mr Bendall alleged his digital signature was used to authorise the share transfer, which Mrs Bendall denies, claiming this was so the company would look better to investors and clients interested in female-led brands.
He told the tribunal: "Fiona was running around London and New York basically saying she was a majority owned female business and it was believed the optics were better to have a female-led business and Fiona told them [the board] that I would be compliant as long as the investment comes in.
"I believe the optics were not as good as introducing a male founder to prospective investors, especially one as a plain-talking Australian, compared to an English woman."
Mr Bendall was dismissed in August. The court heard the company had a valuation of £170million before it went into voluntary liquidation this January with around £2m in the bank and a long client list.
Neither Mrs Bendall nor a company representative attended the hearing, but in a witness statement submitted to the court the respondent denied the allegations.
TFSN and Mrs Bendall denied claims the shares were changed and said Mr Bendall even agreed to it.
It said: "The claimant was behaving increasingly erratic and abusive towards Mrs Bendall.
"In particular he bombarded Mrs Bendall with text messages, emails and voice messages knowing that his actions would provoke her into responding angrily."
The judge found the claimant had been discriminated on the basis he was Australian in relation to one email in particular, but ruled there was no sex discrimination.
Judge David Khan said: "I do find that statement in relation to 'Australian mentality' is self-evidently related to nationality and I find it was unwanted and I accept Mrs Bendall harassed you because of your race."
Judge Khan awarded Mr Bendall a total of £102,954.86, made up of £88,444 for loss of earnings, a basic award of £4,000 and £2,000 for "injury to feelings" for the harassment allegation.
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