A KIDDERMINSTER chef at one of the most historic inns in the West Midlands has been told he can go ahead with a compensation claim for disability discrimination against his employers - because he is allergic to nuts.

Edward Wheeldon, 30, of Stonechat Close, Kidderminster, told Birmingham Employment Tribunal he nearly died after being rushed to hospital after coming in contact with peanuts.

He said just the smell and touch of all types of nuts made him ill and caused a skin disorder.

Mr Wheeldon is a chef and relief manager at the 14th century Whittington Inn between Stourbridge and Kinver, which is famous for its link with Dick Whittington, who eventually became the Lord Mayor of London.

Mr Wheeldon seeks compensation for disability discrimination against Marston’s, the Midlands pub chain company which runs the Whittington. But Mr Wheeldon was told at the tribunal’s preliminary hearing that tribunal judge Mr Bryn Lloyd had first to decide whether an allergy to nuts was a disability before his compensation claim could go ahead.

Mr Tim Jones, representing Marston’s, opposed the claim and contested whether a nuts allergy was a disability.

Mr Wheeldon who is at present off work after 10 years employment, said the allergy had changed his life style and that Marston’s should make adjustments to help him carry out his work.

Mr Lloyd said he had not dealt with such a matter before but that his decision was that a nuts allergy was a disability.

He described Mr Wheeldon, a family man, as a credible young witness who had to alter his life style after discovering what was making him ill.

“Medical evidence had been provided and Mr Wheeldon’s diet has had to be changed,” said Mr Lloyd. “He also has to be careful when shopping for food and preparing it.

“His social life has also been restricted – even the smell and touch of nuts can cause his skin to flare up.”

Mr Lloyd said Mr Wheeldon could go ahead with his compensation claim for disability discrimination at a full tribunal hearing later this year – possibly over three days.

Mr Jones said the respondents would be opposing the hearing and would provide four witnesses.

Both he and Mr Wheeldon agreed to a suggestion, by Mr Lloyd, that they might first consider trying to reach an agreement at a private mediation meeting.