Civil servant ‘gagged and taped to chair in workplace prank’ loses £500k claim

A civil servant who was gagged and taped to a chair in a workplace "prank" has lost a £500,000 compensation claim.

Former Marine Scotland worker DeeAnn Fitzpatrick was pictured taped to the chair in an image that went viral in 2018.

She claimed that she was subjected to the ordeal at Marine Scotland's Scrabster office in 2010 after reporting a male colleague's threatening behaviours towards a female colleague.

She accused two other males of taping and gagging her in response to her whistleblowing, although a probe found that the men had "no case to answer".

The Scottish Government sacked her for lying about the incident, with her bosses at the time saying the "high jinks" occurred at an earlier date in 2009.

She pursued discrimination claims at an employment tribunal, saying that she had been called a "f***ing Canadian r****d", "wh**e" and "old troll" at the office.

Those claims were rejected, but she was allowed to proceed with claims that she was dismissed because she made protected disclosures.

The tribunal has now ruled that the incident did occur before she raised concerns regarding the male colleague's behaviour, thus that it could not have been in retaliation.

In its decision it said: "It had nothing to do with any disclosure made, because of its timing.

"There may well have been nothing that triggered it other than the dysfunctional office culture."

The ruling did criticise a "culture of puerile pranks" at the office, adding that some behaviours in the office had been "entirely wrong".

"The photograph itself shows an image that has elements that are sinister, in particular that tape is placed across the claimant's mouth," the tribunal said.

The tribunal heard how Ms Fitzpatrick was tied up for 10 minutes before being let free, with Reid Anderson having taken the photo and Jody Paske also involved in the incident.

Other office pranks included taping other colleagues in different ways, putting ice down clothing and using a pen casing as a makeshift peashooter.

Although Ms Fitzpatrick said she was "extremely disappointed" by the ruling, she took "some comfort" in the criticisms of the office culture and handling of her case.

The Daily Star has approached Marine Scotland for comment.

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