This is the horrifying moment a ‘whistleblower’ was taped to a chair and gagged after complaining of a racist and sexist culture within her office.
Scottish Government fisheries officer DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claimed the restraint took place amid years of bullying and harassment at Marine Scotland’s Scrabster office.
In paperwork at an employment tribunal against the Scottish Government, Canadian DeeAnn claims that over almost 10 years she was mocked about having a miscarriage, told certain staff at Marine Scotland didn’t want “a woman, especially a foreign woman” and subjected to racist language about her Canadian background.
She was also allegedly sent anonymous Valentine cards which called her a “troll” and said “we miss you, not”.
But her most shocking claim is that she was tied to chair and gagged with sticky tape by fellow employees at the Scottish Government’s Marine Scotland Compliance office in Caithness.
The photograph was submitted as part of DeeAnn’s tribunal fight and has been accepted as genuine.
She claims she was targeted by fellow government workers and told: “This is what happens if you speak out”.
Rhoda Grant, a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, was shocked when shown the photo after it was sent to the BBC.
Last night she demanded immediate action from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, who is responsible for Marine Scotland, to protect DeeAnn.
Rhoda told The Daily Record : “It’s horrific. I’m kind of speechless. I’d been told it had happened.
“I think when you see the picture it kind of makes that 10 times worse that someone would do that to their colleague.
"She’s been subject to a long period of harassment – horrendous behaviour towards her.”
DeeAnn, who as a civil servant is barred from talking publicly, herself faces a disciplinary hearing at the end of May, in which she is accused of being “rude and overzealous” in her work. She has told supporters she believes this process was designed to get rid of her.
DeeAnn also claims the Scottish Government’s HR department threatened disciplinary action against her while she was at her father’s deathbed in Canada in 2016.
She has been signed off work since he died that November.
DeeAnn claimed she was taped to the chair at Marine Scotland’s Scrabster office in 2010 after she tried to raise concerns about a threatening, misogynistic culture at work.
DeeAnn claims she was told by one man, who still works for Marine Scotland: “This is what you get when you speak out against the boys.”
She has taken her case to an employment tribunal but faces disciplinary action herself.
Grant called for an immediate probe into the incidents.
She said: “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 for want of a better phrase. Surely people have no excuse now not to recognise this behaviour as totally unacceptable.
“It was unacceptable back then but certainly now, people at the top of every organisation have to make sure that this doesn’t happen and that there’s zero tolerance towards it.”
The MSP slammed the Scottish Government’s response to DeeAnn’s ordeal.
She said: “Their way of resolving it is actually getting the woman out of the workplace, getting the woman out of the man’s job.
“DeeAnn Fitzpatrick has to be allowed to get back to work in a safe environment and a respectful environment, to do the job she loves. That’s the minimum that has to happen.”
Sturgeon and Cunningham have been made aware of the situation. Grant added: “The minister needs to get a grip of it, the First Minister needs to get a grip of it.
“You’ve got a female First Minister, you’ve got a female Cabinet Secretary, if they’re allowing women who they are responsible for to be treated in this way, it’s totally unacceptable.”
At the earlier tribunal hearing in Aberdeen, it was revealed DeeAnn, of Janetstown, near Thurso, had been signed off sick since November 2016.
The senior officer, whose job involves the conservation of fisheries, told the tribunal last November: “I was taped to a chair by two of my colleagues and told this is what happens if you speak out.”
She claimed she was subjected to derogatory remarks about her Canadian nationality and was mocked after she miscarried. Her solicitor Jillian Merchant claimed DeeAnn was sent Valentine’s cards in 2015, 2016 and 2017 from a colleague. One of the cards referred to her as a “troll” and said “we miss you, not”.
The tribunal heard an investigation into how she was treated in the workplace was carried out in 2014.
Solicitor Andrew Gibson, for the Scottish Government, asked DeeAnn why she had not taken proceedings forward sooner.
He asked if a time limit of three months had been mentioned in her meetings with her union representative.
She insisted it hadn’t come up.
Emails also seen as part of a BBC probe suggest DeeAnn’s complaints may not have been taken seriously after being raised as early as 2008.
Her office manager wrote in the email: “I will speak to xxxxxxx about what happened and I will have a word with XXXX and xxxxxx. I am sure they meant no harm and that was the boys just being boys.”
The Scottish Government said they did not comment on staffing matters but added: “The Scottish Government have clear standards of behaviour which apply to |
“Any concerns raised by staff are taken seriously and investigated fully.”
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