Head had been cautioned

22nd October 2004 at 01:00
The Glasgow secondary head at the centre of sexual harassment allegations was cautioned about his behaviour following an investigation by the authority, it emerged last week.

Mary Robinson, an English teacher at St Roch's Secondary, has taken Glasgow City Council to an employment tribunal claiming sex discrimination by Chris Nairn, the school head.

Mrs Robinson told the fourth day of the hearing last Thursday that she was unaware that Mr Nairn had been cautioned about "aspects of his behaviour which had caused difficulties".

Mr Nairn and Glasgow City Council deny her claims.

Following an investigation, however, the council concluded that certain comments and behaviour on the part of the head were unacceptable but did not amount to deliberate harassment.

Mrs Robinson said she was disconcerted at the council's conclusion that the manner in which Mr Nairn conducted himself was "open to misrepresentation".

She told the tribunal: "It confirms my sense that the department of education came to the conclusion that I was misrepresenting the position. They were still blaming me."

She had been unhappy at the outcome and felt her complaint was not taken seriously, but had been unaware of the letter cautioning Mr Nairn. "If I had been made aware of this at the time, it would certainly have helped in a resolution."

The tribunal heard earlier that Mrs Robinson had complained that Mr Nairn had touched her inappropriately and made comments which amounted to sexual harassment - such as "Phwoar, aren't you a babe" when she approached him in the school corridor wearing a skirt and heels.

The tribunal was also told of a document in which Gerard Bonnar, depute head at St Roch's, suggested the frequency with which Mrs Robinson appeared outside Mr Nairn's offices after her harassment complaint had been disposed of became a bit of a joke.

Mrs Robinson said that the toilets, main information area and photocopying facilities were there. "It would have been difficult for me to do my job if I wasn't in that area. Mr Bonnar described me as stalking Mr Nairn. The word stalker was there. When I read it, I couldn't believe the way they were portraying me. Why didn't they raise it with me?"

It was clear from the line of questioning adopted by Clare Elliot, the council's solicitor, that Mrs Robinson's employer believed her difficult home circumstances may have affected how she saw things. Her husband had died six years ago at the age of 35, leaving her to bring up a young family.

Mrs Robinson replied: "These things have made me more vulnerable but the treatment I have received at the school has added to my stress. The treatment I have received at the school has been more destructive in terms of my confidence and causing anxiety."

The council suggested that Mrs Robinson was not singled out or picked on by Mr Nairn but she insisted she had felt threatened and vulnerable. "I wasn't alone in being singled out. Other people felt threatened. Before I had hoped I was imagining it, but other folk saw it as well."

The council also suggested Mr Nairn had been highly supportive to Mrs Robinson, had turned a blind eye to her lateness and had never disciplined her. It was not consistent with the suggestion that he was against her.

Mrs Robinson said Mr Nairn made her feel she had used up her limit. "He used expressions like 'they will get sick of you, they will get tired of you'. He implied that he was protecting me by giving me support, but at the same time threatening that other people would get sick of me."

In response to questions from Spencer Patrick, the tribunal chairman, she said that Mr Nairn's behaviour became more hostile in June 2002. Asked why, she said: "I think it is because I didn't stroke his ego sufficiently as other people did. He seemed to have some idea that I should be a fan of his and there was a sense that certain people in the school, if we were frequently with them, then we were a target because there was conflict between them and the headteacher."

She told the tribunal she was still on sick leave and hoped to return to teaching, but could not envisage going back to St Roch's. She is seeking compensation for lost earnings and injury to feelings.

The case continues in December.

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