Employee 'frightened to report CSA chief'

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN who drew up an equal opportunities policy for the Child Support Agency told yesterday how a colleague complained of being sexually harassed by her manager but was afraid to report him.

Jane Beale, a senior specialist manager, said the woman, known as Mrs A, claimed Stephen Davies had made sexual suggestions, submitted irregular expenses claims and had gone fishing when he should have been at work.

Mr Davies, 39, claims he was sexually discriminated against by the CSA because Mrs A had been sexually harassing him. He has told an industrial tribunal in Birmingham that she reported him when he refused to sleep with her.

The tribunal has heard allegations that Mr Davies, formerly operations project manager at the CSA's West Midlands headquarters in Dudley, had extra-marital affairs, dropped his trousers at a CSA launch party and made advances towards other agency staff, Miss B, Mrs C and Miss E. He is also alleged to have had an affair with another official, Miss D.

He denies the allegations and says Mrs A pestered him for sex, commented on the size of his penis and bought him skimpy underpants. An internal inquiry cleared him of sexual harassment but sacked him in March for management harassment of two women.

Yesterday, Mrs Beale said Mrs A complained about Mr Davies last 17 June - six months after she alleges that he asked her for 'a quickie' at a CSA Christmas party. 'She came to see me for advice and guidance,' Mrs Beale said. 'She was unsure of what action to take and was worried about the repercussions of making a complaint about Mr Davies.

'She said he told her she was only where she was because of him and he could get rid of her tomorrow. She mentioned suggestions of a sexual nature. She said she had covered up for him when he had taken time off for a meeting in Newcastle but had gone fishing, and there were some discrepancies in his expenses. I advised her the allegations were very serious but said I could not pre-judge the outcome of the complaint.'

Mrs Beale rejected suggestions by Peter Henrick, representing Mr Davies, that the CSA had no equal opportunities policy and that managers had no training on how to deal with sexual harassment.

The case continues.