‘Work bullies taping me to chair led me to call Dignitas’
A CIVIL servant who claims she was taped to a chair and gagged by bullying colleagues contacted the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland with a view to ending her life, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Dee-Ann Fitzpatrick, 49, said she was ‘driven to nearly commit suicide’ after receiving anonymous birthday and Valentine’s cards in the post mocking her about her age, sexuality and gender.
The Canadian national added that she felt ‘humiliated’ and ‘degraded as a woman’ after a three-year campaign of harassment by male colleagues at the Scottish government’s fisheries watchdog Marine Scotland.
Her claims come weeks after a picture emerged of her taped to a chair and gagged. A colleague allegedly took the photo in 2010 after Miss Fitzpatrick blew the whistle on what she claims was the misogynistic workplace culture she faced daily.
During the ordeal, co-workers allegedly told her: ‘This is what you get when you speak out against the boys.’
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for an investigation and Miss Fitzpatrick is pursing an employment tribunal case against the Scottish government.
Giving evidence in Aberdeen yesterday, she said she received the first Valentine’s card in February 2015, with a handwritten message calling her a ‘Canadian jock with two balls and a ****’ and a ‘dyke’.
Other cards followed in 2016 and 2017. One, sent after she was signed off work, had the message: ‘To an old troll, we miss you NOT.’
She also claimed male colleagues at Marine Scotland’s office in Scrabster, northern Scotland, used ‘old troll’ as a nickname for her and showed her a picture of one of the fictional creatures.
Asked by her solicitor Michael Briggs about the effect of this ‘ bullying culture’, Miss Fitzpatrick said: ‘I contacted Dignitas in Switzerland. I’d had enough.
‘It’s harassment. It’s like stalking. This has driven me to nearly commit suicide. It’s made me become a recluse.’
She added men in the office ‘used to tell me I was past it and that they wanted a younger woman in the office – they had a vulgar way of admiring younger girls’.
The tribunal heard two colleagues named by Miss Fitzpatrick had never faced criminal charges over her claims and had denied knowledge of the cards. Andrew Gibson, representing Marine Scotland, pointed out that Miss Fitzpatrick was facing disciplinary charges after allegedly being ‘overzealous’ during a boat inspection in 2015.
He put it to her that she was not well liked in the local community and the cards could have been from anyone, such as ‘aggrieved or disgruntled fishermen’.
He also asked her why the two co-workers she blamed for sending the cards had never been mentioned to police or to her human resources department.
She said: ‘If I complained I was pulled up or disciplined so I stopped complaining. When people complained they lost their jobs.
‘It was someone with a sick mind that kept sending them to me because I was a woman.’ The tribunal continues.
‘It’s made me a recluse’
Ordeal: Miss Fitzpatrick taped to a chair and gagged
Claim: Dee-Ann Fitzpatrick yesterday