Civil­ian em­ployee agrees set­tle­ment in sex ha­rass­ment case against PSNI

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY ALAN ERWIN

A CIVIL­IAN worker with the PSNI has set­tled her le­gal ac­tion over the force’s han­dling of al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment at work.

Sinead Hamp­son’s bar­ris­ter con­firmed a con­fi­den­tial res­o­lu­tion had been reached at the High Court in Belfast.

The law­suit is to be stayed, with Ms Hamp­son’s costs paid by the po­lice ser­vice. No fur­ther de­tails were dis­closed.

The 37-year-old was seek­ing dam­ages over claims that un­wanted sex­u­alised touch­ing, ha­rass­ment and bul­ly­ing were “brushed un­der the car­pet” amid a cul­ture of misog­yny and male chau­vin­ism within the force.

At the start of the case on Wed­nes­day a judge was told three other women made al­le­ga­tions of in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour against the same de­tec­tive, in­clud­ing in­ci­dents of be­ing slapped on the back­side and told to bend over for a spank­ing.

But Ms Hamp­son, an ad­min- is­tra­tive as­sis­tant, was the only one of the four to make a for­mal com­plaint. The al­leged con­tact oc­curred at sta­tions in Lon­don­derry between 2009 and 2012.

It was claimed that De­tec­tive Con­sta­ble Ro­nan Sharkey re­peat­edly put his hands on her shoul­ders dur­ing in­ci­dents in work.

Mr Sharkey, since pro­moted to sergeant, de­nied her claims and those made by the other women. po­lice of­fi­cer who was 20 years older than her was com­pletely in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

Although po­lice chiefs were said to have sep­a­rated the de­tec­tive from his client, he said that wasn’t enough.

The bar­ris­ter in­sisted that “touchy feely” be­hav­iour had no place in the work­place.

The PSNI’s han­dling of the al­le­ga­tions, he con­tended, amounted to “a com­plete dere­lic­tion of the duty and obli­ga­tion of a ma­jor em­ployer in the 21st cen­tury”.

Brand­ing the force’s re­sponse as “ut­terly de­plorable, ap­palling”, Mr McCol­lum claimed that it amounted to male chau­vin­ism be­ing tol­er­ated or brushed un­der the car­pet.

What hap­pened within that branch of the po­lice amounted to sex­ism or misog­yny, the court heard.

The case was set to run for five days, but ne­go­ti­a­tions in­stead led to the set­tle­ment be­ing reached.

Ms Hamp­son de­clined to com­ment as she left court.

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