Woman tells tribunal sex pest ruined her police career

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A police constable's career was ruined by a catalogue of "shocking" sexual harassments by a male colleague, a tribunal in Leeds was told yesterday.

The 41-year-old male constable made life at a West Yorkshire station such a nightmare for the woman - groping her breasts, straddling her and repeatedly making sexual comments - that she went on sick leave with clinical depression and has been told by her doctor that she will never work as a police officer again.

After the 25-year-old constable complained about the harassment in October 1994, the male officer was suspended and a criminal investigation launched. The woman is still off sick and undergoing counselling, more than two years after the alleged offences.

She told the tribunal that the officer often touched her, made suggestive comments and generally made her feel "very, very uncomfortable".

On one occasion, he made comments as she was eating a sausage for her breakfast. On another occasion the officer straddled her as she sat in the snooker room and put his face towards her as if he was going to kiss her. She put her hand in front of her face and he moved away. The woman, who worked in West Yorkshire's Calderdale division, did not report the incident at the time. "I didn't think anyone would believe me. I though they'd just tell me not to be so stupid and just get on with it," she said. Matters came to a head when her attacker came up behind her a few weeks later.

She said: "His left hand went over my left shoulder and down in between my police shirt and my jumper and came to rest on the top of my right breast. He said to me 'I was going to bottle out then, I was going to grab you'. I said to him, 'Get off me.'" The man took his hand away and walked off, she said.

The next morning the woman confided in a colleague and then reported the incidents to a senior officer. She said: "I think he was very shocked. He said to me: 'We're going to have to do something about it, it's getting out of hand.'

"I asked him what he meant by that comment and he told me that I wasn't the first officer to come and report an incident to him and that he would have to take advice from a senior officer." The hearing was adjourned until today.