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Back scratches, late-night martinis and $300,000 a year

Chase Robinson and De Niro. David Dee Delgado, Dia Dipasupil/Getty

“Forget the blood sweat and tears in Raging Bull and Goodfellas,” says Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail. Robert De Niro is facing “the toughest battle of his life”: a gender discrimination claim from his former personal assistant. Graham Chase Robinson, who was on $300,000 a year, claims she suffered “severe emotional distress” from working with the Hollywood star. She claims the 80-year-old once yelled at her for failing to wake him for an important meeting. She says he asked her to scratch his back; called her at 6.30 on a Sunday morning to get access to his computer; and once dispatched her to order him a martini from Nobu at 11pm. If she is to be believed, De Niro is some sort of “tyrant”.

Sorry, but I’m not buying it. This was not some “downtrodden lackey” – Chase Robinson, 41, was a senior member of staff “on a salary beyond most people’s dreams”. Any reasonable working woman would view his “trivial requests” as just part of the job. Besides, if De Niro was such a “monster”, why did she continue working for him for 11 years? Why did he promote her to vice-president of his company? As for the back-scratch accusations, they’re clearly designed to make De Niro seem like some sort of Harvey Weinstein character, and that “makes a mockery of real sufferers of sexual violence”. The court will decide who’s right: De Niro is also suing Chase Robinson, for transferring $300,000-worth of air miles to her personal account and “splashing out” on personal items, food and travel. But from where I’m sitting this looks like an old-fashioned shakedown.