Whistleblower allegedly tied to a chair after speaking out

Photo: BBC

A whistleblower who complained of a misogynistic and racist culture at a Scottish government department has claimed that she was taped to a chair and gagged by her colleagues.

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick, who was employed at fisheries watchdog Marine Scotland, alleged she was subjected to years of bullying and harassment at the organisation’s office in Scrabster.

After complaining about the alleged bullying, Fitzpatrick claimed she was taped to a chair and gagged by two male colleagues in 2010, according to BBC Scotland. A photo of the incident was allegedly taken by one of the perpetrators.

Fitzpatrick, who is still employed at Marine Scotland but has been signed off since November 2016, complained about the incident to one of her managers, but she claimed it was dismissed as “boys just being boys”.

Her harassment claim is currently being heard in an ongoing employment tribunal, but it is unable to consider the chair incident as it took place more than three years ago.

During evidence, she claimed that one of the men who allegedly taped her to the chair told her: “This is what you get when you speak out against the boys”.

Fitzpatrick, who is Canadian, claimed that over a period of 10 years she had been subjected to behaviour including being mocked for having a miscarriage, being told that staff at Marine Scotland didn’t want a “foreign woman” and being subjected to racist language.

She also alleged that female staff were subjected to threatening behaviour, including being referred to as “prostitutes”.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs she was “absolutely horrified” by the photo that was taken of Fitzpatrick taped to the chair and has asked Leslie Evans, permanent secretary to the Scottish Government, to conduct a full review into the incident.

During First Minister’s Questions, Highlands and Islands MSP Rhoda Grant asked Sturgeon whether she would intervene in the case.

Sturgeon said she was limited in what she could stay because of the ongoing tribunal, but said a “full review” of the incident would be undertaken.

“Bullying, abuse, sexism, racism, have no place in any work place and they will not be tolerated in the Scottish government or its agencies,” the First Minister said.

Grant, who has been supporting Fitzpatrick with her case, said described the behaviour as “out of control”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government, which overseas Marine Scotland, said it has “clear standards of behaviour which apply to all staff”.

“Any concerns raised by staff are taken seriously and investigated fully,” the spokeswoman added.

Fitzpatrick also claimed she was facing disciplinary action from Marine Scotland after taking time off to visit her dying father in Canada.

She said that despite informing her line manager about her father’s illness, she was threatened with a letter that read: “You are required to contact me as soon as you receive this letter to explain the reason(s) for your absence. Failure to do so may lead to disciplinary action.”

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