A FORMER adviser with tax specialists Chiltern was forced to attend a clinic for treatment as an alcoholic, even though she denied suffering from the disorder, after being accused by super model client Elle Macpherson of leaking information to the press.
The claims were made today at the Leveson Inquiry into media ethics by Mary-Ellen Field, a former intellectual property specialist with Chiltern, who was made redundant from the firm at the beginning of 2006.
Her redundancy followed just four months after an interview with Accountancy Age Best Practice magazine in which Field and Macpherson had only high praise for each other.
Field told how she began working with Macpherson soon after joining the firm in 2003 and was asked to look after her licence arrangements.
Field also arranged press interviews for Macpherson. But Field recounted how, in 2005, she was about to meet the fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune when the model’s lawyer telephoned to tell her not to attend the meeting.
Field then claimed that her husband was called and warned that she could be fired for leaking information to the press and that she was accused of doing it because she was an alcoholic.
Field categorically denied being an alcoholic during today’s hearing. There then followed meetings in which Field agreed to attend a clinic on the understanding that she would then be allowed back to work.
She agreed to this despite being warned by lawyer friends to resign and sue for constructive dismissal.
She attended a clinic for some days, but was told she was not an alcoholic, she said, rather she had an ‘adjustment disorder’, which she believed meant stress in the US.
She returned to work with a clean bill of health at the end of 2005, but in early January 2006, as her health declined, she was made redundant.
When news of the phone hacking scandal broke in 2006, with the arrest of News of the World Journalist Clive Goodman and private detective Glenn Mulcaire, Field said she heard that Elle Macpherson’s phone was one of those alleged to have been hacked.
She contacted her former employer, but received no response. She also attempted to make contact with the police, but did not begin formal contact until 2009 after further stories appeared in The Guardian. She is now involved in civil action against News International.
In September 2005, Accountancy Age Best Practice magazine published an interview with Field, not a qualified accountant, about her work at Chiltern in which it was revealed that she was advising Elle Macpherson. Macpherson was quoted in the magazine praising Field. “She’s a fantastic communicator and quick as a whip,” she said.
She added: “She has a fantastic scope of knowledge and a very good mediator. She’s one of my right-hand people. I couldn’t do this business without her.
“Mary-Ellen is the nuts and bolts of the machine on the commercial side.”
Field was equally complimentary of Macpherson. “Elle has an extremely strong vision of what her brand is and she’s absolutely consistent in that and always has been. We just make it happen,” Field said.
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