Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Accusations of Council 'Laddish' Culture; FORMER MONITORING OFFICER MAKES CLAIMS AT TRIBUNAL

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Accusations of Council 'Laddish' Culture; FORMER MONITORING OFFICER MAKES CLAIMS AT TRIBUNAL

Article excerpt

Byline: JAMES CAIN james.cain@trinitymirror.com @JIMMYMCAIN

A "LADDISH" culture led to female staff being dubbed "posh birds" and another "fatty" at Middlesbrough Council, an employment tribunal was told.

The allegations were made at an employment tribunal over the departure of the former Middlesbrough Council monitoring officer Karen Whitmore.

It was also claimed former Middlesbrough Council chief executive Mike Robinson made crude jokes and gave a part Nazi salute in response to a colleague.

Mrs Whitmore, who was removed from her post last June, said the atmosphere at the council altered with the appointment of Mr Robinson as chief executive.

She told the hearing in Middlesbrough yesterday: "I noticed a significant change once Mike became chief executive."

Mrs Whitmore said a "laddish" culture developed under Mr Robinson's leadership, claiming he referred to one female colleague as "fatty". She said when she raised the issue with Mr Robinson on behalf of the woman, he emailed Mrs Whitmore saying that it wasn't his "style" to call someone "fatty".

Later, Mrs Whitmore said the colleague approached her saying she was upset because Mr Robinson was now "blanking" her.

The former monitoring officer also took issue with Mr Robinson referring to senior female colleagues as "posh birds".

With the appointment of a new colleague, Mrs Whitmore said Mr Robinson had remarked: "We'll have two posh birds at the LMT."

However, a solicitor acting for the council quoted the employee in question as saying: "I first referred to myself as a posh bird from the south. I never felt it necessary to complain. I didn't find it offensive."

Mrs Whitmore later wrote a letter to Middlesbrough Mayor Dave Budd complaining about "unacceptable humour".

It came after a meeting in which a reference was made to a "Portuguese shower", apparently referring to the notion that Portuguese people use perfume and aftershave rather than washing. …

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