'No one believes a man in these matters': Stephen Davies regrets his indiscretions but is not sorry he brought the case, writes Steve Boggan

Steve Boggan
Tuesday 12 July 1994 23:02

STEPHEN DAVIES greeted the news of his defeat with resignation yesterday, saying he had expected the decision to go against him because of his past as an unfaithful husband.

'Unless you have one, two, three witnesses who saw what went on and are prepared to give evidence, you can never prove these things,' he said. 'No one ever believes a man ahead of a woman in these matters . . . and if you are a heterosexual man and you have had more than one affair in your life, you are deemed to do it all the time.

'It's easy to see with hindsight now, and I do regret some of my indiscretions, but I don't regret having had the courage to go ahead with my claim.'

The claim was unreservedly thrown out with the industrial tribunal coming down firmly on the side of the CSA and Lynn Badger, the woman Mr Davies claimed had sexually harassed him. But he intends to fight on.

He was sacked for his allegedly intimidating style last March, yet no criticism of him had emerged during 22 years as a civil servant until Mrs Badger accused him of sexually harassing her. He was cleared of that charge, but then charges of 'management harassment', or bullying, followed.

The Birmingham hearing was told repeatedly of his competence as a manager, despite the decision, personally sanctioned by Ros Hepplewhite, CSA chief executive, to sack him. The tribunal's report said: 'As to his overall ability and competence, we find he was very highly regarded and those matters were not questioned. We received evidence . . . suggesting he was hardworking, competent at his job and praising him in this respect.'

Mr Davies is pursuing a claim of unfair dismissal - which will follow soon - but he decided to pre-empt that with a claim of sexual discrimination. 'I genuinely feel I did the right thing and I have no regrets about bringing the case,' he said. 'But it is much harder for a man to do this than a woman and I do feel that my past did me no good, although I was happy for it to come out.

'I knew about it (a previous affair) and so did my wife, but that was a big factor and it came down against me. Di (his wife) knew what had happened in the past and she accepted it and supported me and now we are a happy family unit.'

He said the affair to which he admitted during the hearing happened 'years ago' with a woman with whom he had worked. The recent allegations were either untrue or not serious. 'I coughed to the Chinky (Chinese meal with Maxine Barnard) and the snog, but that's not the end of the world,' he said. 'It's OK between consenting adults.'

What had gone on within the CSA was no worse than what went on in most offices, he said. 'It simply sounded worse because it became public.

'I feel I have been very badly treated by the CSA and, personally, I hope the case has made its job harder. It has no caring face because all element of discretion in decision- making has been removed. And an organisation where people can't use their discretion, where they have to follow rules rigidly, becomes inhuman.'

Mr Davies has opened a fishing tackle shop in Wolverhampton, and says he wakes up each morning looking forward to work.

Inevitably, however, he has become an object of fun; a 6ft 5in former rugby player who claims he was sexually harassed by a tiny woman a little over 5ft tall.

'The (newspaper) coverage has been intolerable,' he said. 'But I knew it would be. Should fear of the tabloids stop you going forward with something you believe? I decided it shouldn't. But now we just want to get on with our lives.'

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