Wedding organiser couple evicted from their £7m farmhouse after being sacked by their cannabis tycoon boss ‘Dr Pot’ fail in bid to sue him for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment
- Alo Brake and her husband Andrew lost their lawsuit against Dr Geoffrey Guy
A luxury wedding organiser couple who were evicted from their £7million home after being sacked by their cannabis tycoon boss have failed in their bid to sue him for unfair dismissal, discrimination and harassment.
Alo Brake and her husband Andrew – whose company hosted celebrity marriages – lost their lawsuit against Dr Geoffrey Guy following a bitter five-year legal battle with the entrepreneur.
The couple were ordered to leave the Dorset estate they lived on last year after losing a High Court fight against the 69-year-old who made his millions through medicinal cannabis and has been dubbed ‘Dr Pot’.
The row that led to their eviction has now been laid bare at an employment tribunal.
Mrs Brake, 58, and her husband, 68, transformed West Axnoller Farm in Beaminster, Dorset, into a luxury venue that hosted actor Sean Bean’s wedding to his fifth wife.
Alo Brake and her husband Andrew (pictured) lost their lawsuit against Dr Geoffrey Guy following a bitter five-year legal battle with the entrepreneur
The couple were last year ordered to leave the Dorset estate after losing a High Court fight against Dr Geoffrey Guy (pictured), who made his millions through medicinal cannabis and has been dubbed ‘Dr Pot’
Financial difficulties meant in 2017 the farm was sold to Dr Guy’s company, the Chedington Court Estate, for more than £7million and the couple stayed on as his employees to continue working on the wedding business.
Following disagreements, legal proceedings between the parties began in 2018, leading to dozens of court hearings and the Court of Appeal ruling that the High Court was right to order the Brakes to leave Axnoller House.
Now, at the tribunal in Exeter, Devon, the Brakes have lost claims of unfair dismissal, whistle-blowing detriment, disability discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.
Details about their disagreements with Dr Guy and his wife Kate, 64, emerged for the first time.
It was heard the ‘root cause’ of their fallout were proposals – that Dr Guy withdrew from – to jointly invest in a £5.7million farm nearby.
In one hostile meeting, ‘angry’ Mrs Brake branded Dr Guy and his wife ‘bullies’ and Mr Brake stood up shouting and pointing his finger in a ‘very aggressive and threatening manner’.
Furious Mr Brake told Dr Guy at the meeting ‘a man who does not stick to his word is not worth speaking to, Mister’ and then told his wife ‘come on, we are leaving’.
Mrs Brake, who represented the couple at the tribunal, also alleged Dr Guy ‘orchestrated a campaign’ against them and ‘victimised’ them by bringing eviction proceedings against them.
The couple claimed they should be allowed to live in Axnoller House, with the estate having hosted celebrity marriages
Further, she claimed Dr Guy committed tax fraud and said he discriminated against her by trying to ‘groom a replacement’ for her to take over the wedding business.
All claims were dismissed by Employment Judge Alastair Smail.
The tribunal heard Mrs Brake and her husband were rocked by financial difficulties in 2008 and were bankrupt in 2015.
Dr Guy purchased the farm – which neighbours actor Martin Clunes’ home – in 2017 for £7million.
Difficulties began to arise after Mrs Brake suffered medical issues related to her kidney transplant and she accused Dr Guy’s staff of ‘policing’ her rising health insurance costs.
She suspected that the appointments of a housekeeper and finance director suggested Dr Guy was trying to push her out of the wedding business arm of the farm.
She told Dr Guy: ‘The truth is it no longer suits you to have us here. We are, in your opinion of little further value.’
In 2018, Mrs Brake suggested a business proposition to Dr Guy after seeing nearby Looke Farm up for sale.
It was agreed the Brakes would put in £2million and the Guys’ pension fund would put in £3.7million.
The couple transformed West Axnoller Farm in Beaminster, Dorset, into a luxury venue that hosted actor Sean Bean’s wedding to his fifth wife (pictured)
Mrs Brake wanted to turn her section of the large farm into ‘organic farm shop with retail outlets’ and would eventually spend more time there rather than at Axnoller.
Friction arose initially over contractual issues as Dr Guy didn’t want to be seen going into business with his employees.
Then, he refused to buy it with the proposed covenants that the Brakes wanted to enforce.
The Brakes wanted ‘total control’ over all of the land and Dr Guy was concerned it would hinder the land’s resell value and impact a local shooting site.
The tribunal heard that matters came to a head at a meeting on November 6, 2018.
Mrs Guy said: ‘Alo started to get very agitated and said we had gone back on our word.
‘Andy shouted (still sitting down) ‘Right I’ve heard enough, you are not a man of your word – come on we are off’.
‘Andy then stood up. Alo was very obviously angry.
‘Andy stood then started in a very aggressive and threatening manner to shout ‘a man who does not stick to his word is not worth speaking to, mister, come on we are leaving’.
‘Alo said ‘sit down – we have to get this sorted’. His behaviour made me feel very anxious.
‘Once the men had gone into the hall, Alo started saying to me ‘you are bullies, though in disguise – if you don’t get your way you bully people’.’
Two days later Dr Guy fired them, with their dismissal letter stating a breach in trust.
Following their sacking, the couple ‘trespassed’ for three and a half years as they refused to leave Axnoller House.
Their fight against the eviction at the High Court and Court of Appeal was unsuccessful.
At tribunal, it was heard Dr Guy’s finance director Russell Bowyer said of Mrs Brake: ‘She is an extremely difficult person to work with.
‘It takes very little for her to flip to swearing, shouting or using bullying tactics and aggression to get her own way.’
Judge Smail concluded that the Brakes sacking had nothing to do with disability discrimination or whistle-blowing detriment relating to the tax fraud allegation.
The judge said: ‘The root cause of the fall out between the parties… was the fall out around the significant commercial proposal to invest in Looke Farm.
‘This led Mr and Mrs Brake to say they had no confidence in Dr Guy, whom they accused of not acting in good faith.
‘The relationship, including the employment relationship between the parties, thereby came to an end.
‘That had nothing to do with protected disclosures, protected acts or disability.
‘The ongoing events post dismissal similarly have that root cause, compounded by the refusal of Mr and Brake to vacate Axnoller House for 3.5 years.’
Judge Smail added: ‘The reason that Dr Guy decided to dismiss on the grounds that there had been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship was because of Mr and Mrs Brake stating they no longer trusted him and his wife, that he was not a man of his word, and that he and his wife were bullies.
‘Furthermore, Mr Brake had expressed this view angrily, shouting and finger-pointing.
‘Dr Guy did not reach the position that there was an irretrievable breakdown because Mrs Brake had raised a grievance. He reached it because of the collapse of mutual trust.’
It was heard the parties are still caught up in legal proceedings over ownership of a cottage on the farm.
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