‘Whistleblower’ taped to chair and gagged

Source: ‘Whistleblower’ taped to chair and gagged

A woman who complained of a racist and misogynistic culture in a Scottish government agency claims she was taped to a chair and gagged by two male colleagues as a warning to keep quiet.

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick said the restraint took place amid years of bullying and harassment at Marine Scotland’s Scrabster office.

The fisheries officer has taken her case to an employment tribunal.

BBC Scotland has obtained a photo of the restraint incident.

It was taken by one of the men allegedly responsible.

Ongoing tribunal

Ms Fitzpatrick, a Canadian national, said it happened in 2010 as a result of her blowing the whistle on a threatening and misogynistic culture at Marine Scotland’s office in Scrabster, on the far north Caithness coast.

In evidence to her ongoing tribunal, she said that one of the men involved, fisheries officer Reid Anderson, told her: “This is what you get when you speak out against the boys.”

Reid Anderson
The BBC understands Reid Anderson remains employed at Marine Scotland

The Scottish government is responsible for Marine Scotland, which is the watchdog for the fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland.

It said that it “does not comment on internal staffing matters”.

Rhoda Grant, a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has been supporting 49-year-old Ms Fitzpatrick since 2010, when a concerned colleague of the fisheries officer alerted the politician to the alleged treatment.

Seeing the photo for the first time, Ms Grant told the BBC: “It’s horrific. I’m kind of speechless.”

The MSP said she had been told it had happened but seeing the photo seemed to make it “10 times worse”.

Ms Grant said: “She’s been subject to a long period of harassment, horrendous behaviour towards her.

“In some of my dealings with DeeAnn it’s very clear that there is a culture in that office that people can get away with what they say and what they do.

“It seems to me that it’s out of control.”

‘Boys just being boys’

DeeAnn works as a fisheries officer checking the operation of the industry
DeeAnn works as a fisheries officer checking the operation of the industry

Ms Grant said the behaviour had been “unacceptable” eight years ago but the recent #Me Too movement, highlighting abuse against women, had made people see there should be a zero tolerance approach.

The BBC has seen emails showing Ms Fitzpatrick tried to raise the alleged attack with one of her managers soon after it happened, but it appears to have not been taken seriously.

The manager said he would have “a word” with the men involved – Reid Anderson and Jody Paske.

He added: “I am sure they meant no harm and that was the boys just being boys.”

Mr Anderson, who the BBC understands remains employed by Marine Scotland and has recently been promoted, did not respond to the allegations, although civil servants are usually unable to comment without government approval.

Mr Paske, who no longer works at Marine Scotland, told the BBC that the allegations were “lies”.

He said: “These are false allegations. I can’t remember the event you mention, but if it did happen, it would have been office banter. Just a craic. Certainly nothing to do with abuse.”

We asked the Scottish government to waive the civil service code in order to allow Ms Fitzpatrick to speak about her experiences but permission was not given.

A spokeswoman said: “The Scottish government has clear standards of behaviour which apply to all staff.

“Any concerns raised by staff are taken seriously and investigated fully.”

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