An ex-mayor who invited his female town clerk on a foreign holiday was ordered to pay her a total of £33,697 in compensation by an employment tribunal yesterday.

Tony Prior (67), was ordered to pay 31-year-old Sally Bing the compensation for sex discrimination and subsequent victimisation.

At the hearing in Exeter, chairman John Hollow made the awards for loss of earnings, injury to health and feelings and aggravated damages.

Mr Prior, whose 72-year-old wife Margaret was by his side throughout the hearing, was mayor of Chard in Somerset at the time of the events.

In his judgment, Mr Hollow said Mr Prior's invitation to Mrs Bing to accompany him on a holiday to Andorra had a sexual motive.

Subsequently he was in effect "seeking to avenge himself by demeaning her and warning her because she rejected his advances".

The tribunal heard that by September last year, according to Mrs Bing: "There appeared to have been a transition from sexual harassment to bullying in a sinister manner since my rejection of his advances."

Making the award for aggravated damages, Mr Hollow said in August and September last year Mr Prior sought to blame Mrs Bing for what he perceived to be professional shortcomings which were unjustified.

After his resignation as mayor when the allegations emerged, he sought to cast serious aspersions on her professional integrity.

That served to aggravate an already bad situation, said Mr Hollow, adding that a press release also sought to impugn her integrity by suggesting she was not as sick as she was after taking time off work.

After the hearing, Mr Prior said what had happened was an "appalling miscarriage of justice", adding that he was not going to stand for the council again.

Mr Prior, who said he and his wife had "tremendous support" from the people of Chard, told the tribunal:"I do not have that kind of money, but I will find some way of getting it."