THE SUNDAY TIMES
November 04, 2007 

Actually Roxanne, I like the red light...

Sting is a rock icon who wants to save the rainforest. But how does he square his green credentials with his seven homes? Taking a break at the one in Malibu during his world tour with the reformed Police he talks about lyrics, politics and the cook who took him to court.

You can take the man out of Newcastle but you can't, in this case, take Newcastle out of the man. Gordon Sumner - nicknamed Sting by his Geordie mates because of his adolescent fondness for yellow and black stripy jumpers - is resting up in his Malibu oceanfront house. In a few days he will fly to New York where his recently reunited band, the Police, will soon start the second leg of their box-office-busting American tour.

Sting is pining for the grey skies of Blighty - "Whenever I'm away from home for any length of time I really miss the rain." Cool customer that he is, he's been none too impressed either with the panicked reaction of Alist neighbours such as Tom Cruise and Pamela Anderson to the Californian bush fires. "A few cars caught fire on the Pacific highway after the wind brought down some power lines. But the main danger to people around here was that they were running out of champagne.

"What we're experiencing in California right now is a reminder that if you don't take nature into account, it's going to come back and bite you."

The Police are midway through a world tour that will gross them an estimated 0m, augmenting the fortune they earned from the 80m albums they sold during their heyday in the early 1980s.

But in an otherwise wildly successful year, Sting, now 56, has taken a couple of nasty nips himself. While the Police were rehearsing for their tour in March, his household came under fire from Jane Martin, the family's former cook at his 800-acre Wiltshire estate, Lake House. At an employment tribunal in Southampton, Martin sued the Sumners for unfair dismissal, claiming she had been sacked for getting pregnant, after eight years of loyal service.

With the world's media agog for details, Martin obliged with colourful accounts of what she called the "wasteful extravagance" of the couple's lifestyle. The lady of the house, Sting's second wife, the actress and film producer Trudie Styler, had a "grandiose ego" Martin informed the tribunal.

The 42-year-old family retainer told of truffles couriered over from France to feed celebrity house guests such as Madonna. She also moaned about being regularly ordered to make an arduous journey from Salisbury to London just to prepare a soup and salad for Sting's brood, even though they also kept two housekeepers, two nannies and a butler on the premises of their two London homes.

In May the tribunal found in Martin's favour. The judgment alluded to the couple's "shameful conduct", and they were ordered to pay her

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