Sir James Dyson’s former PA hits back at claims she ‘spied’ and stole documents including his wife’s medical records – claiming she was just ‘tidying up’
- Sir James Dyson and his wife Lady Deirdre are suing former PA Lynette Flanders for £50,000
- They say she plundered emails, family record and photos of their grandchildren
- But she has branded the claims ‘vague and embarrassing’ and insists she was only tidying
Sir James Dyson’s former PA has hit back at claims that she stole family secrets including his wife’s medical records.
The inventor and his wife Lady Deirdre are suing Lynette Flanders for allegedly plundering emails, family records and photos of their grandchildren at their £20million mansion.
But Mrs Flanders, 50, branded the claims ‘vague and embarrassing’, insisting she only took a copy of Lady Deirdre’s computerised records to help ‘tidy’ the electronic files.
Lynette Flanders has been accused of ‘spying’ by her former boss, businessman James Dyson
James Dyson and his wife Deirdre are suing his former PA Lynette Flanders for £50,000
She also said she had only taken photos of framed family snaps to remember their position on a windowsill so she could return them to the right place after tidying.
The Dysons, who are worth £9.5billion, have lodged High Court papers demanding £50,000 compensation from Mrs Flanders.
The married mother-of-three joined their staff as a cleaner in 2007 and rose to become the £35,000-a-year house manager of Dodington Park, where the couple live, with a staff of 100.
Lawyers for the 72-year-old vacuum cleaner tycoon said this gave her ‘extensive access to private and confidential information’ before she was made redundant last August.
In May last year, she allegedly created a folder called ‘Deirdre’ on her work laptop containing ‘private, confidential and sensitive medical records’ of Lady Deirdre, then later copied it to a portable data storage USB stick.
She also copied 5,000 emails to her personal email account and sent herself five photos taken on her phone inside the Dysons’ home, it was claimed.
Mrs Flanders, 50, denies the allegations, saying they are ‘vague and embarrassing’, insisting she only took a copy of Lady Deirdre’s computerised records to help ‘tidy’ the electronic files
On another occasion, it was said, she copied a list of guests invited to a ‘private opera’ the Dysons were hosting, including their private email addresses. It is also alleged she made a secret recording of a conversation between two senior estate staff.
The Dysons, who bought their 300-acre Georgian estate in south Gloucestershire in 2003, said there was ‘no legitimate basis’ for her to have the data.
But Mrs Flanders, of Bristol, denies their claims of breach of contract, breach of confidence, misuse of private information and causing distress and anxiety. She admits creating a computer folder called Deirdre and moving records of the work she had done for Lady Deirdre into it ‘in an effort to try and tidy the electronic files’, her lawyer said.
She later copied it to a USB device ‘in order to retain a profile of the work she had undertaken as an aide-memoire’.
To the claim that she photographed pictures of the Dysons’ children and grandchildren, she said it was for a ‘legitimate work-related purpose’.
The couple’s sprawling country home, the 300-acre £20million Dodington Park in Gloucestershire
Her lawyer Allan Roberts said: ‘These photographs were a general view of a windowsill area, which contained items including photographs. The windowsill was to be cleared and the photographs taken to enable the items to be returned to their original place.’
He added that Mrs Flanders had intended to send them to her work email address ‘but inadvertently selected her personal address’.
The opera guest list was indeed sent to Mrs Flanders’s personal email address, he said, but this was because she was working from home and could only print it out from her home computer, not her work laptop. The recording of a staff conversation was also made as an aide-memoire, he added.
Mrs Flanders claims Lady Deirdre, 76, was well aware of her using her personal email address for work because the tycoon’s wife had often sent work emails to it. She had never been asked to delete the files in her personal email account, her lawyer said.
Mrs Flanders denies all the Dysons’ claims and says they are ‘retaliation’ for her intention to sue the billionaire couple for unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal.
No date has yet been set for a court hearing. Neither side wished to comment last night.
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