Al­leged bul­ly­ing vic­tim moved by global sup­port

Marine Scot­land dis­putes 10-year cam­paign of abuse claims

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - 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 agency, Andrew Gib­son, urged

“There was a sus­pi­cion that is some­thing she is ca­pa­ble of”

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 2017, 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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