Home NEWS Lawn Tennis Association forced to pay out over ‘porn star’ slur

Lawn Tennis Association forced to pay out over ‘porn star’ slur

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The Lawn Tennis Association has paid compensation to a post-room worker who was made redundant and then described as a “Moroccan porn star” in a leaving speech given by his manager at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

The speech was given by Charles Jude – the recently appointed general manager of the NTC – in August at a leaving drinks held for the post-room worker and three other LTA employees, all of whom had been made redundant at the same time.

The man, who is in his late 40s, is in fact from Algeria and is a practising Muslim. He was not present at the event, but was subsequently told about it. When he complained to the human resources department about the demeaning comment – which he felt to be a poor reward for 12 years of service – he was initially told that it was a joke, and was then offered a verbal apology. Only after his departure, when he contacted the LTA via a solicitor, did the organisation offer financial compensation.

A spokesman for the LTA told Telegraph Sport on Tuesday that the remark had been a failed attempt at humour after Jude – who had only recently arrived in Roehampton – appealed to longer-serving staff members for information on the departees. 

The LTA has since brought in guidelines for these kinds of speeches.

Jude is one of several executives hired by the LTA from sports-club chain David Lloyd Leisure. Since Jan 1, 2018, the LTA has been headed by Scott Lloyd, who was previously the chairman of DLL as well as the son of its founder. He has brought his right-hand woman, Julie Porter, across from his previous employer to become the LTA’s chief operating officer. Jude was recruited to manage the NTC while property director Paul Guyer also made the switch.

“There is a real David Lloyd mafia in charge now,” said one person close to the organisation. “It feels as if half the people at the LTA have arrived in the last few months and morale isn’t great among those who were there beforehand.”

Porter is increasingly seen as the LTA’s day-to-day boss. She recently extended her empire to encompass the communications department, despite the fact that she was responsible for the biggest PR gaffe of the year – the failure to include any mention or image of the Murray family in the LTA’s springtime rebranding exercise, Tennis Opened Up.

In June, the Daily Mail reported that Scott Lloyd was still paid a salary in his role as a director of DLL, and that he maintains a 0.4 per cent stake in the business. In a statement, the LTA said: “Scott’s business interests were fully disclosed before he was appointed in January 2018. 

“The LTA Board was satisfied then – and satisfied now – that they are managed in an appropriate way so they do not represent a conflict of interest. His role with David Lloyd Leisure is non-executive and he plays no part in their day-to-day business decisions.”

It is not easy, at present, to find anyone outside the LTA who is convinced by this regime. 

One leading player agent told Telegraph Sport that Lloyd has yet to build any rapport with Britain’s top performers, or even with some of the juniors who are coming through the ranks. 

The commercial department have made precious few sponsorship announcements, and there is no word as to what will happen when the three-year deal with Fever-Tree – who bought naming rights for the LTA’s prime asset, the Queen’s Club Championships – comes to an end next summer.

On the performance front, Lloyd’s only high-profile policy has been one he inherited: the two national academies at Loughborough and Stirling. Even here, serious capacity issues are already emerging at Stirling, which only has four operational courts at present.

Responding to Telegraph Sport’s criticisms on Tuesday, Scott Lloyd said: “Myself and my LTA colleagues take real pride in the work that we do and the direction we are headed in. 

“I recognise that change can be unsettling for some people, however we will not let that distract us from making the progress we are striving for.”

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