Of­fi­cial de­fends de­ci­sion not to probe com­plaint

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - NEWS -

A Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment chief yes­ter­day de­fended the de­ci­sion not to in­ves­ti­gate claims Ms Fitz­patrick’s male col­leagues at Marine Scot­land sent anony­mous cards to tor­ment her.

The gov­ern­ment’s head of peo­ple ad­vice, Ju­dith MacK­in­non, gave ev­i­dence dur­ing the sec­ond day of Ms Fitz­patrick’s em­ploy­ment tribunal. She said her role is to pro­vide hu­man re­sources ad­vice to Holy­rood and her depart­ment looks into com­plaints raised by work­ers at gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

It was Fe­bru­ary 2015 when Ms Fitz­patrick re­ceived a first card, which she says left her feel­ing “in­sulted, hu­mil­i­ated and de­graded as a woman” due to its crass mes­sage.

But when she re­ported the mat­ter to gov­ern­ment hu­man re­sources staff, she was told no in­ves­ti­ga­tion could take place be­cause the card was sent anony­mously. Ms MacK­in­non said there was “no ev­i­dence” to sug­gest the cards had been sent by co-work­ers.

She added: “The al­le­ga­tions were not against any per­son in par­tic­u­lar. To in­ves­ti­gate a com­plaint you need to speak to the in­di­vid­ual be­ing com­plained against.”

The 51-year-old said gov­ern­ment staff de­clined to raise the mat­ter with po­lice de­spite Ms Fitz­patrick ask­ing them to, as that would be for her to do as the com­plainer.

The Canadian’s so­lic­i­tor, Michael Briggs, cros­sex­am­ined Ms MacK­in­non on whether her depart­ment could have done more.

He said: “It would have been pos­si­ble to write to staff seek­ing in­for­ma­tion, to cir­cu­late a sam­ple of the hand­writ­ing to see if any­one recog­nised it or to phone the po­lice.”

Ms MacK­in­non said: “We could have done it, but we didn’t do that.”

She de­nied an ac­cu­sa­tion that they “didn’t take the com­plaint se­ri­ously”.

So­lic­i­tor Michael Briggs

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