Al­leged bul­ly­ing vic­tim moved­by­glob­al­sup­port

Tribunal: MarineS­cot­land­dis­putes10-yearcam­paig­no­fabuse­claims

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY BEN HENDRY

A woman who claims she en­dured 10 years of bul­ly­ing at a gov­ern­ment agency says she has been moved by global mes­sages of sup­port since tak­ing her em­ploy­ers to tribunal.

Yes­ter­day, as the sec­ond and final day of DeeAnn Fitz­patrick’s tribunal against Marine Scot­land con­cluded, it emerged that she could be awarded £42,000 if judges find in her favour.

But so­lic­i­tor for the gov­ern­ment a g e n c y, An­drew Gib­son, urged

“There­wasa sus­pi­cionthat is­some­thing­she is­capableof”

the panel to dis­miss the Canadian 49-year-old’s claims and de­scribed her as “ca­pa­ble of mak­ing ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tions” against her male col­leagues in the Caithness of­fice.

Ms Fitz­patrick clutched her sis­ter Sherry’s hand for sup­port as she ad­dressed the case through her so­lic­i­tor, Michael Briggs, out­side the tribunal build­ing in Aberdeen af­ter­wards.

Mr Briggs said: “A lot of peo­ple have reached out to DeeAnn from around the world. Some were sim­ple mes­sages of sup­port and en­cour­age­ment but the ma­jor­ity were from peo­ple in sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions thank­ing her for hav­ing the brav­ery to come out.”

Ms Fitz­patrick claims that she was tied to a chair and gagged by male col­leagues at Marine Scot­land in Scrab­ster, mocked for suf­fer­ing a mis­car­riage and con­stantly tor­mented be­cause of her age, sex and na­tion­al­ity.

But due to the age of those al­le­ga­tions, the tribunal ruled that no judg­ment could be made on their va­lid­ity.

The hear­ing solely fo­cused on the as­ser­tion that Ms Fitz­patrick’s col­leagues ha­rassed her by send­ing anony­mous Valen­tine’s Day and birthday cards be­tween 2015-17.

Hand­writ­ten mes­sages on the cards said the fish­ery of­fi­cer had male gen­i­tals and re­ferred to her as “old troll” and “Canadian Jock” – nick­names she claims work­place bul­lies gave her.

On Wed­nes­day, Ms Fitz­patrick told the tribunal that on­go­ing abuse led her to “con­tact Dig­ni­tas” with a view to ar­rang­ing an as­sisted sui­cide.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day ’ s hear­ing , Mr Gib­son ref­er­enced re­ports com­pleted by oc­cu­pa­tional health work­ers from 2 0 1 7, wherein Ms Fitz­patrick said she was “not suicidal”.

Mr Gib­son said: “Has she re­ally been as up­set as she is claim­ing to have been?

“Ms Fitz­patrick has been through the dis­ci­plinary process be­fore for mak­ing up a ma­li­cious al­le­ga­tion. There was a sus­pi­cion that is some­thing she is ca­pa­ble of.”

The lawyer en­cour­aged judges to “throw out” the case due to a lack of ev­i­dence the cards had been sent by col­leagues. He ar­gued that they could have been posted by “dis­grun­tled fish­er­men”, mem­bers of the pub­lic or Ms Fitz­patrick her­self.

Mr Briggs de­scribed those sug­ges­tions as “ris­i­ble”.

He asked the panel to find that the cards were sent by col­leagues and to award his client the max­i­mum sum pos­si­ble of £42,000.

Judge James Hendry ad­vised that the de­ci­sion will be re­vealed in five or six weeks.

SUP­PORT: Sherry Fitz­patrick with her sis­ter DeeAnn Fitz­patrick, right, out­side the tribunal in Aberdeen

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