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Woman 'taped to chair' claims bullying was so bad she contacted Dignitas

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 14/06/2018 Auslan Cramb
a close up of a woman: DeeAnn Fitzpatrick said she contacted Dignitas over alleged harassment. © BBC DeeAnn Fitzpatrick said she contacted Dignitas over alleged harassment.

A woman who claims she was taped to a chair by male colleagues at a Scottish Government agency told a tribunal she has become a recluse because of the bullying and harassment she suffered.

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick said she experienced a racist and misogynistic culture while working for Marine Scotland, and once contacted the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.

In a hearing ahead of the tribunal she said she was taped to a chair and gagged by two male colleagues in 2010. A shocking photograph of the alleged incident emerged last month.

However, it is understood the tribunal is unable to consider the allegation as it was said to have taken place more than three years before a complaint was brought. Despite this, Ms Fitzpatrick’s family released the picture saying it needed to be seen.

Ms Fitzpatrick, 49, said in the earlier preliminary hearing that the incident happened during years of bullying at the agency’s Scrabster office in the north of Scotland, and was a warning to her to keep quiet.

DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claims she was taped to a chair by two colleagues © BBC DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claims she was taped to a chair by two colleagues

The Canadian national told the first full day of the tribunal on Wednesday that she felt intimidated after being sent anonymous cards.

She said she suspected the cards, received on Valentine’s Day and her birthday every year between 2015 and 2017, were sent by colleagues.

A message in one called her an "old troll" and another warned her about trying to "climb the ladder of success".

She added: "When I first started getting the cards, it made me feel awful. But as they continued, yes it's affected my self-esteem.

"It's actually made me become a recluse, I stay at home, I have gone more into myself. With everything going on, I contacted Dignitas in Switzerland. I had enough."

Dignitas provides assisted suicide to those suffering from a terminal illness, severe physical or mental illnesses.

Ms Fitzpatrick told the tribunal she had worked for Marine Scotland, which acts as the watchdog for the fisheries and aquaculture industries, since 2006.

a close up of a stone building with grass in front of a house: Dignitas building near Zurich. © AFP Dignitas building near Zurich.

The alleged abuse is said to have taken place while she was based in Scrabster and to have continued after she was signed off.

She alleged two colleagues - Derek Yule and Reid Anderson - were responsible for sending the cards. The tribunal heard there was a bad atmosphere in the office during the period.

Ms Fitzpatrick, of Janetstown, near Thurso, is understood to have been signed off from work since her father died in November 2016.

When the photograph of her emerged apparently taped to an office chair, the Labour MSP Rhoda Grant said it was “horrific” and had left her “kind of speechless”.

The hearing continues.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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