Widow claims sexual harassment

24th December 2004 at 00:00
The leader of the Educational Institute of Scotland in Glasgow said this week he was shocked when an English teacher told him about comments allegedly made by her head.

Willie Hart said the remarks allegedly made by Chris Nairn, head of St Roch's secondary in the city, were totally inappropriate and appeared to him to be a disciplinary matter.

Mr Hart was giving evidence on behalf of Mary Robinson, who has taken Glasgow City Council to an employment tribunal claiming sexual harassment.

Mrs Robinson, an English teacher, had earlier told the tribunal how Mr Nairn said "Phwoar, aren't you a babe?" Mrs Robinson also alleged Mr Nairn, while very drunk, made a crude remark about a "fanny parade" at a Christmas staff night out in 2002.

Mr Hart said: "I have not come across another situation where a head refers to young female members of staff as babes. I would not expect that kind of language to be part of normal interaction between staff in schools."

The tribunal also heard from Tom Murphy, EIS representative at St Roch's, who said Mr Nairn would call girl pupils "babe" as a way "of being close and friendly with the pupils, perhaps as a way of building up confidence with them".

Mrs Robinson, who says she suffered stress and depression after several family tragedies, including the death of her husband, says she was victimised for raising her complaints against Mr Nairn. She suggested he bullied and sexually harassed her to the point where it was like being in an abusive relationship.

The council investigated and said Mr Nairn had been cautioned about "aspects of his behaviour which had caused difficulties", but that these did not amount to sexual harassment.

The teacher wants compensation for lost earnings and injury to feelings.

Glasgow City Council and Mr Nairn deny the allegations.

The hearing continues.

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