Mills insists 'I treated nanny like daughter'

Heather Mills has denied claims of sex discrimination and unfair dismissal, insisting she treated her former nanny "like a daughter".

Giving evidence at an employment tribunal brought by Sara Trumble, she said they got on so well she was asked to be godmother to her child.

Ms Trumble, 26, is seeking compensation and claims she suffered changes to her employment terms following her maternity leave.

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The former nanny told the hearing in Ashford, Kent, yesterday Ms Mills made the lives of her staff a misery.

But giving evidence, Ms Mills said: "I treated Sara like my daughter as she often complained that her mother was cold and distant to her.

"I spent much of my time consoling her, especially when she said she was having problems with her partner."

Ms Mills said that after her nanny had her baby "she asked me to be godmother to her daughter".

"She said it was because I had taken such good care of her and she could think of no one better. I was delighted."

She said she met Ms Trumble when she was a beauty therapist in Rye, East Sussex when she was still married to Sir Paul McCartney. She told the hearing: "She was not a qualified nanny, more of a babysitter/childminder. She suggested we could do beauty treatments too."

Ms Mills said she gave Ms Trumble 1,500 after she had some money

stolen and also 500 for a deposit on a flat .

She also said she gave Ms Trumble lots of gifts and baby items when she had her daughter, and was very accommodating when she wanted to work only part-time after having the baby. But she was "shocked" when the nanny asked for 4,000 for breast enlargement surgery.

She said that Ms Trumble instead got the money by taking out a bank loan and then took a week's leave followed by a sick day. She was surprised when she had handed in her notice "out of the blue" and let her have only two weeks' notice instead of her contracted four.

Ms Trumble has claimed Ms Mills forced her to say positive things about her and work long hours without extra pay.

She also claims her former employer made her feel uncomfortable by moaning to her about ex-husband Sir Paul and was unsympathetic about her difficult pregnancy.

During cross-examination by Ms Mills's solicitor, Caroline Crampton-Thomas Ms Trumble said: "I wasn't the only person who felt that at that time. It's just that nobody else will stand up. I decided to take action and fight this for myself."

Ms Trumble, of Westfield, was paid 260 a week to look after Beatrice, now six and admitted she asked Ms Mills to be godmother to her daughter Lily.

She was also questioned over claims that she received a 10,000 pay-off from Sir Paul after she resigned in September 2008. She said the money was a gift "for my dedication and hard work with Beatrice".

Ms Trumble admitted that Ms Mills was often generous and gave her money and a Daihatsu Copen convertible car, as well as baby clothes and accessories.

She also acknowledged that Ms Mills took her to Slovenia with other staff and friends and she was invited to join her on a holiday to Sir Richard Branson's private Caribbean island, Necker.

Questioned about why she wanted to leave, she said: "It's not all about money, I'm not talking about gifts and all that she gave me. It's about how she treated me."

The hearing resumes on 9.30am on Thursday when Ms Mills will continue to be cross-examined and members of her staff are then due to give evidence in support of her.