Manager alleges she was strangled at party
THE manager of a popular Cardiff bar was strangled until she passed out by a colleague at a work Christmas party, a tribunal has heard.
Molly Phillips alleges she was left with a head injury after Cameo Club chef Nathan Webb gripped her around the neck until she lost consciousness then dropped her to the ground.
She claims she was checked for a suspected stroke and left with facial paralysis following the alleged incident at the venue, in Wellfield Road, Roath, on January 1 this year.
Miss Phillips has now brought an unfair dismissal claim against her former employer Pontcanna Pub Company Ltd, saying she felt unsafe working with her alleged attacker and had to resign.
During the employment tribunal hearing at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court, she claimed Mr Webb had strangled her but admitted she did not remember the events of the night.
She was taken to the University Hospital of Wales but later sent home, the hearing was told.
The next day, after she sent a photo to her mum of her with a sloping mouth, she went back to hospital after seeing her GP and had a 17-and-a-half-hour wait in A&E.
In a statement, Miss Phillips said: “I was checked for a suspected stroke, Bell’s palsy, and other tests were done but all of these were ruled out.”
Days later, she said in a statement to the tribunal, she checked CCTV footage from the club out of “pure curiosity”.
“It wasn’t until I watched properly that I realised what had happened – Nathan Webb puts his arms around my neck, pulls it tighter with his fists clenched, and despite my trying to push him off me, he doesn’t let go,” she alleged.
Days later, she said, she told one of the company directors at a meeting at her workplace about the incident.
Miss Phillips said she told director Jason Pearce about the incident.
She claimed he responded by joking with Mr Webb as he walked past, saying something along the lines of: “All right buddy? Hear you’ve been choking girls lately.’”
Mr Pearce said during the hearing he “didn’t think it was as serious as it was” but he had made the comment.
In his statement, he said he told Miss Phillips he wanted to speak to Mr Webb but she said she was “fine” and was “adamant” she didn’t want anything done.
She later spoke to another director, Huw Davies, who had been on holiday after the incident, who asked if she wanted anything to happen. She told him she didn’t as she was in the process of buying a house and needed to make sure her employment was secure.
Miss Phillips told the hearing that months later, after other alleged behaviour by Mr Webb towards other staff including putting chilli in a staff member’s soup and threatening someone on a night out, she told her employers she had begun lose faith in their ability “to keep her safe in her workplace”.
She had also just been told by medics she may not recover from the incident on New Year’s Day, Miss Phillips said.
She told Mr Davies at a meeting on March 19 that she would be going to the police about the January incident.
Mr Webb was arrested on May 8. At the March meeting Mr Davies said he “sympathised” with Miss Phillips and “didn’t discourage her”.
But he said he raised concerns about medics giving her a “conclusive diagnosis”.
By March 24 she said she was “finding it hard to come into work and was crying both before and during my shifts”.
Mr Davies told the hearing: “At no point did Molly state she was scared of Nathan.”
He added it would be “difficult to investigate, dismiss or discipline Nathan after so much time had passed” and said he suggested she change her shifts, which she did.
Miss Phillips went on holiday but when she came back was signed off work with stress. She said after looking online on May 2, she saw a job advert for a manager at the club.
“Straight away I messaged the manager, Antoine, to ask about it, and after avoiding the question for a while, he eventually informed me that Huw wants three managers, and has always wanted three managers, but that my job was safe,” she said.
A follow-up grievance meeting was arranged for May 16 but Miss Phillips’ was not upheld. The same day Miss Phillips handed in her resignation.
In his statement, Mr Pearce said: “I do not see how Molly can complain that no action was taken when she did not want any action to be taken and this was despite the fact I had suggested that I speak to Nathan.”
Mr Webb remains employed as a chef at Cameo Club, the tribunal heard.
Judge Alison Frazer reserved judgement to make her findings.
The Cameo Club on Wellfield Road