'She's after my money' claims Sugar
Lord Sugar has condemned "claim culture" as he accused a winner of his TV show The Apprentice of lying and taking him to a tribunal "to extract money from me".
Stella English, 34, who won series six of the BBC One show fronted by the millionaire peer in 2010, is suing him for constructive dismissal.
She was given a £100,000 role with Lord Sugar's IT division Viglen as her prize but resigned in May 2011 and complained that her role there was that of an "overpaid lackey".
Stella said she felt pressurised into taking up a new position at Lord Sugar's internet set-top box company You View. She told hearing in east London that Lord Sugar then advised her, in an unscheduled meeting on September 28, 2011, that he would not be renewing her contract and that he told her he did not "give a s***".
Reading out his own statement today, Lord Sugar said: "She is a suspicious, untrusting person and one who believes she has always been done down and places blame with others. "I believe this claim, together with its publication in the media, is simply an attempt to extract money from me."
He said Stella wrongly believed he was "scared" of articles about him or The Apprentice appearing in the press. Lord Sugar said: "I seriously believe the claimant is deluded that I'm frightened about newspaper articles and that I would not appear at a tribunal as a witness."
He said Stella was under the impression he would pay her off to avoid having to attend the hearing. But he told the tribunal: "I have no intention to pay her any money unless told to do so by the law."
Lord Sugar added that he held strong principles on the issue and had spoken in the House of Lords on "this new wave of claim culture". He dismissed Stella's allegation that she had been pressurised into taking the You View job as "total garbage" and her claim that she was ostracised by colleagues at Viglen as "a figment of her imagination".
In an exchange with Philippa Jackson, representing Stella at the tribunal, Lord Sugar accused his former employee of lying about her version of events in a bid to generate publicity. "I'm angry because of this, because it's a total lie," he said, when Ms Jackson suggested he appeared angry.
He admitted to feeling agitated and "losing his cool" during cross-examination, and explained: "I'm not going to succumb to tantamount to blackmail really, to pay your client lots of money, with her solicitor hearing my name and seeing pound signs, hearing 'kerching' signs coming up."