Radio Sandwell Local News

Church leader and deacon husband in bitter legal war

2015-02-02 23:20:19

Deborah Harrison and Allan LavingtonDeborah Harrison and Allan Lavington

A church pastor has emerged victorious from an unholy legal row with her deacon husband after their marriage made in heaven came to a bitter end.

And, both sides agree, it began to unravel during the WEDDING RECEPTION.

The sorry story emerged as God-fearing Deborah Harrison and Allan Lavington -  leading lights at Ladywood's Ecclesia Ministries Church - were set to lock horns at Birmingham Employment Tribunal.

Pulpit friction was sparked when Mr Lavington claimed unfair dismissal from a business run by his wife - and complained he had not been paid.

But Judge Leslie Antis ruled there was no evidence that he was ever employed by Gospel Express Academy, an organisation which provides courses in floristry and music lessons.

The decision has provided neither peace nor closure for the warring Christian couple.

Neither was prepared to turn the other cheek when approached by the Birmingham Mail.

"I trusted her as a pastor and I was sucked in by that," said Mr Lavington, 62. "That is what I’m ashamed of."

And he revealed their 2010 marriage ran into trouble only hours after they tied the knot at a register office.

"She was chewing me up at the reception," he said. "She and her sister tore into me so I walked out.

Mr Lavington, a renowned flower arranger, dubbed his estranged wife 'erratic and fiery tempered', adding: "All I want is to do things to please God."

Meanwhile, the Good Book may teach forgiveness but Pastor Harrison, who launched the Pentecostal church - which is based at Ladywood Methodist Church - four years ago, finds that very hard when it comes to her estranged husband.

She has dubbed him manipulative and controlling.

"I'm well out of it," she insisted, adding that his "bombastic attitude vexed choir members."

The cleric admitted that there was, indeed, a row at the wedding reception over a missing pot.

But she stressed it was fully four months before SHE packed her bags.

"In the end it got very bitter," she added.

"He wanted £74,000 from me - that's £1,200 a month from 2010 to now. He needs to realise that 60 per cent of nothing is nothing."

Deborah HarrisonDeborah Harrison, Gospel Express.

Miss Harrison claimed the deacon has tried to again woo her in recent weeks but has received short shrift.

"He's been pleading 'Can I come back?' she said. "I know he's trying to pull a fast one."

Mr Lavington told the tribunal he had been employed at Gospel Express Academy as a financial manager, with the promise of £1,200 a month.

Other duties, he alleged, included floristry, and giving guitar and drum lessons. Mr Lavington also complained that he was never given terms of employment and eventually lost his job.

His 58-year-old wife, however, insisted he was never on the payroll.

"He was a volunteer," she said. "He was not paid because the academy was a charity and did not pay anyone."

Judge Mr Antis stressed that proof Mr Lavington had been employed at the Gospel Express Academy was needed before he could go ahead with his legal claim.

After consdering the evidence, he said his decision was that Mr Lavington had NOT been employed by the academy and therefore could not go ahead with his claim for unfair dismissal.

Not surprisingly, Mr Lavington no longer preaches at the Ecclesia Ministries Church.

"I'm a Christian first, I don't bother with titles," he said.

"I'm not bitter, but if I saw her walking down the street, I'd blank her."

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