“Bound and gagged” fisheries officer sues Scottish government

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Marine Scotland officer taking legal action against government is believed to be based on stress and mental health issues caused by alleged bullying and harassment.

Lawyers acting for DeeAnn Fitzpatrick confirmed the claim to the BBC, the publication reported.

“Petrified”
Pictures of the Canadian national, Fitzpatrick taped to a chair and gagged were originally published by BBC Scotland last year, when she said she was “petrified” by the incident.

The Marine Scotland fisheries officer claimed she was targeted as a result of blowing the whistle on a threatening and misogynistic culture. DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claimed she experienced bullying and harassment over a period of ten years while employed at the Scrabster office on the north coast of Scotland. Marine Scotland is the country’s coastal waters and seas civil service directorate.

Lawyers acting for Ms Fitzpatrick confirmed to the BBC that she has raised a legal action against the Scottish government, which is believed to be based on alleged stress and mental health issues.

“Probably the most difficult case”

Scottish Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has demanded an independent inquiry into the handling of the case, describing it as “probably the most difficult” one she had ever made.

Ms Fitzpatrick lost an employment tribunal against Marine Scotland in June 2018 after claiming she had been harassed by colleagues, whom she alleges had sent her abusive cards on her birthday and on Valentine’s Day between 2015 and 2017.

Ahead of the tribunal, Fitzpatrick alleged she was taped to a chair and gagged by colleagues in 2010. However, this was not considered as it was said to have happened more than three years before the complaint was brought.

Ongoing internal process
Scottish Government permanent secretary Leslie Evans carried out a review after images of Fitzpatrick gagged and bound to the chair emerged. It concluded that the government’s “robust disciplinary procedures” had been “followed thoroughly and objectively in relation to this incident”, “a broad set of actions” were implemented “to ensure a working environment which meets both the Civil Service Code and Scottish Government Standards of Behaviour.”

A Scottish government spokesperson told the BBC: “Harassment or abuse of any form is completely unacceptable, and will not be tolerated in the Scottish government.

“We have robust policies and procedures in place to deal with instances where behaviour falls below the standard expected.

“This matter is the subject of an ongoing internal process. We do not discuss internal staffing matters.”