‘Work bul­lies tap­ing me to chair led me to call Dig­ni­tas’

Daily Mail - - News - By Alan Shields

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

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