Equality-claim lawyer given £70,000
A female barrister employed by police in the public inquiry into the murder of solicitor Rosemary Nelson has received a £70,000 settlement after alleging sex discrimination.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) made the settlement without admission of liability after Dolores Creen lodged a complaint with the assistance of the Equality Commission.
In 2007 the barrister was asked to act on behalf of the PSNI in the high-profile inquiry, but she later claimed she was paid less than a male colleague, was occasionally assigned to routine tasks that did not reflect her experience, before her instructions to act for the police were withdrawn while male colleagues were retained.
The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland said PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott acknowledged the upset and distress Ms Creen experienced and he reaffirmed his commitment to equality of opportunity in the workplace.
Ms Creen said: "When I was offered this brief I was told that it would require a full-time commitment and I made it my absolute priority.
"In fact, I was extremely disappointed by the treatment afforded me during my work as part of the PSNI legal team on the inquiry."
She said she challenged her subsequent treatment because she believed it to be unfair.
The lawyer added: "I am pleased that the case has been resolved and I hope that other women, in any profession, who believe they are under-valued, will be encouraged to challenge such treatment."
Ms Creen was briefed in 2007 to act on behalf of the PSNI in the public inquiry which is probing allegations of security force collusion in the loyalist paramilitary murder in 1999 of solicitor Rosemary Nelson. The mother of three, who represented a number of high-profile nationalist and republican clients, was killed when a bomb exploded underneath her car near her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
In the discrimination case that Ms Creen filed against the police, she alleged she was paid less per hour than a male barrister, that her billing hours were reduced, and that eventually, in November 2008, her instructions to act on behalf of the PSNI were withdrawn, while male colleagues were retained on the inquiry.