Ilford butler sacked for ‘stealing’ leftovers from Athenaeum gentlemen’s club

A butler at an exclusive private gentlemen’s club was sacked for “stealing” leftovers from a staff barbecue, a tribunal heard today (Thurs).

Rodrigo Gromet, 61, of Leeds Road, Ilford, was fired from the prestigious Athenaeum Club – a favourite drinking hole for cabinet ministers and other members of high society – after a social event last August.

Club secretary Jonathan Ford told the central London Employment Tribunal that Mr Gromet and his family “descended on the food table like locusts” following the do.

Chairman Dr Henry Kinloch insisted that the Pall Mall club would have wanted to have kept the leftovers and returned them to the stock room.

“The fact of the matter is that the food belongs to the club,” he said.

“I’ve no doubt whatsoever that some food is put into doggy bags and disappears - these things happen - and we really don’t want a half-chewed lamb chop going back into stock.

“But on this occasion...it was a total wipeout.”

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But the sacked butler claims that the only food he took away – including spring rolls, noodles and soy sauce – was brought by his wife.

Mr Gromet, who is seeking compensation for unfair dismissal and loss of earnings, accuses club bosses of scheming to remove him after he threatened legal action over a work accident.

The tribunal heard he had brain surgery after falling from a ladder in the club’s library as he tried to protect books from water dripping down the walls following building work.

He later threatened to sue and claims worried managers asked him to drop the case over fears it would affect their insurance.

Mr Gromet, who had worked at the Athenaeum since 1996, was also accused of drinking spirits on duty after admitting he had diluted bottles of gin with water, but maintains he was instructed to do so by a supervisor.

The Athenaeum, founded in 1824, denies Mr Gromet’s claims and says he was properly dismissed for theft.

The hearing continues.

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