Family butcher's anger at malicious marriage gossip sweeping village
A WELL-KNOWN businessman has been forced to take drastic measures to stop malicious gossip about his family life.
Brian Fields, who owns Fields of Anlaby butchers, has placed two large signs in his shop window to dispel rumours that he has left his wife and abandoned three children.
The businessman, who is Hull's only member of the prestigious Guild of Q Butchers representing Britain's best butchers, felt compelled to tackle the rumours after his seven-year-old daughter came home from school distraught and asked "Who will I live with, mummy or daddy?"
Mr Fields and wife Joanne, who have been together for almost 20 years and married for 13 years, said "hundreds" of people had approached them about the accusations that he had been unfaithful over the past three months and had left his wife for another man.
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He said the most hurtful impact was when the rumours reached parents and pupils at Swanland Primary School, where his children, Joseph, 10, Jazzmyn, 11, and Francesca, 7, attend.
Mr Fields, 43, of Hessle, said: "We are happily married and this is just idle gossip.
"It's a shame that people just pass on gossip without any thought for the consequences and without questioning it.
"We had to sit the children all down and explain to them that someone was being nasty to us.
"The oldest understood better but Francesca asked us who she will be living with. I worry about them getting bullied at the school as children can be nasty.
"Joanne is upset too. She gets looks from some parents when she picks the kids up as if they are saying 'that's her whose husband ran off with a man."
The butcher said he had no idea where the rumour began.
He said: "It started about three months ago when friends said they had heard the rumour.
"I thought it would just go away on its own but it just got bigger and bigger.
"Then I thought I had to take a stance."
He and Joanne, 40, who is a director in the business, believes the culprit may be motivated by jealousy because of the success of his award-winning butchery and bakery in Hull Road, Anlaby.
He said: "I have a successful business, a lovely family and I am in the paper a fair bit. I can only imagine whoever started this is jealous.
"People in this country can't always celebrate success and have to try to spoil it.
"I am very proud of my achievements and we have recently taken on two trainee school-leavers and two assistants, even in these times of recession."
Brian's shop specialises in top-quality produce, including free-range, traditional and rare-breed meats.
In 2008 and 2009 he won the regional heats of a competition to find the country's finest butcher's shop and then went on to win the coveted national prize of Britain's Best Butcher in 2010.
The Fields now employ a total of 13 staff at the shop.
Customers told the Mail they backed Mr Fields.
Fellow butcher John Harrington, 40, of Church Street, Anlaby, said: "Brian's a nice guy and a friend of mine.
"The rumours are really not nice for his kids."
Andrew Linn, 54, of Wolfreton Court, said: "The signs are a novel way to deal with it – good on him."
Brian was keen to point out in the specially-printed shop signs he has nothing against anyone who is gay.
He told the Mail: "I have gay family members and gay friends and I believe in 'each to their own'.
"I took action because I didn't want my customers thinking I had been unfaithful and dishonest."