Civilian employee agrees settlement in sex harassment case against PSNI
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.