Christian Horner complainant is ‘upset, scared and lonely’, says family friend

Home » Christian Horner complainant is ‘upset, scared and lonely’, says family friend

The woman who complained about Red Bull team principal Christian Horner’s behaviour is “very upset, angry, scared, intimidated and lonely”, a family friend has told BBC Sport.

The woman lodged a complaint in December that contained allegations of coercive, abusive behaviour and sexual harassment by Horner.

She “struggles to understand” how Red Bull dismissed the complaint following an investigation, the friend added.

Horner has always denied the claims.

Red Bull dismissed the complaint on 28 February after an internal investigation and cleared Horner, 50, of any wrongdoing.

Until now, the complaint has been described as one of inappropriate and controlling behaviour. Red Bull said they could not confirm it also included allegations of sexual harassment, but BBC Sport has seen evidence to that effect.

The woman is unable to talk about her claims, having signed a legal undertaking not to discuss the matter with anyone other than her father and brother, the friend said.

“It’s impossible for people to understand what it’s like for her,” said the friend, who was talking to BBC Sport exclusively and on condition of anonymity. “She can’t talk and she won’t talk.

“But I can tell you what it is doing to her. Every time I have asked her something, she breaks down in tears and says she’s got no-one to talk to because she’s not allowed to talk.

“She is very upset, very angry, very scared, very intimidated, very lonely. And I think it’s impossible for people to understand without being in her shoes what it’s like for her.”

A Red Bull spokesperson said: “Both [parties] signed a confidentiality agreement on it so they both can’t discuss it.”

The leak of messages

The day after the complaint was dismissed, a cache of messages purporting to involve Horner was leaked to nearly 150 senior F1 personnel and media.

The following week, the complainant was suspended by Red Bull. BBC Sport has previously reported that the reason given to the woman by Red Bull was she had been dishonest.

Horner has described the leak as “anonymous, speculative messages from an unknown source” and refused to comment on its contents.

BBC Sport has not verified whether the messages are genuine, and attempts in early March to ask Horner to confirm it were shut down by a Red Bull PR handler.

However, the friend claimed the messages were a genuine exchange between Horner and the complainant.

The friend said: “We can all read the WhatsApps and anybody can come to their own conclusion whether that was an appropriate relationship between a CEO and a PA.

“As Christian has said, he wants to draw a line under this. Well, if this has been a fair and independent process and there has been no wrongdoing found, then why isn’t that being brought forward in a transparent way and why isn’t Christian denying that those WhatsApps are real?

“I do feel like you had some people who feel it takes two to tango, but that’s unfair. That is trying to divert. The issue here is, should Christian have done what he did as a CEO?”

Red Bull have said they cannot comment further on the report and its findings because of confidentiality issues regarding employment law.

‘It’s shocking but not surprising how upset she is’

The friend said the woman has been badly hit by Red Bull’s response to her complaint.

“She struggles to understand how, given the information, an independent process can have come to the conclusions it has, and the actions that have followed,” her friend said.

“It’s shocking but not surprising how upset she is. There have been multiple financial offers [to sell her story], none of which she has had any interest in even engaging on.

“The fact she can’t talk to her friends, is only allowed to talk to her direct family members… you have a single female who has followed the right process and feels like she is unheard and it has been a totally unjust process.

“It takes a pretty brave woman to do what she has done. And unfortunately it is a very poor state of affairs.”

The complainant has appealed against Red Bull’s decision and has made F1’s governing body the FIA aware of the situation and asked it to investigate.

The friend added: “It is registered to go to an employment tribunal, which is public. As a friend, I can tell you I would assume that Horner, like he has done every step of the way, will do everything he can to make sure that the employee tribunal is not public.

“Unfortunately, the date is a long time away. She has been threatened with legalese every step of the way, as has the media.

“She has now been suspended and it’s clear that’s Red Bull following a process to eventually fire her.”

A Red Bull spokesperson said: “Christian has not made attempts to [make sure the employment tribunal is private]. And she has not been suspended with the intent of firing her.”

‘She is determined the truth comes out’

The friend said the woman would keep pursuing her case.

“She is determined for the truth to come out,” they said. “She just wants to work in the sport and is very concerned about her reputation and ability to get hired by anyone.

“She has been in motorsport her entire life, so on one hand she is very concerned and scared for her future, on the other hand very determined for the truth to come out.

“Because she can’t talk to her friends openly, I think she has all this bottled-up fear and concern that she is not able to openly communicate with her friends and family to support her and give her advice, because she is being respectful of the terms and conditions that have been placed upon her.

“It’s pretty clear she has not been able to say a word or even identify herself and yet Christian is able to give enough commentary because he has got a position of power and influence to effectively give his side of the story and she has been completely muted.”

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