Belfast Telegraph

Victim Support HR consultant denies calling staff 'a bunch of bitches'

By Amanda Ferguson

Staff at a charity that helps crime victims were described as a "bunch of bitches" by a consultant, a tribunal has heard.

The human resources consultant was giving evidence to an employment tribunal in support of sacked Victim Support NI (VSNI) chief executive Susan Reid.

Ms Reid was dismissed from the Belfast-based organisation that helps victims of crime after 10 years in charge.

She is alleged to have called a senior colleague a "fat b******" and a "castle Catholic", and to have created a climate of fear.

Ms Reid denies all the allegations against her and is seeking substantial damages from VSNI for unfair dismissal.

At yesterday's tribunal, Lisa Gillespie - a human resources consultant from England who was involved with the charity for a time - denied describing staff members as a "bunch of bitches". She did, however, tell Employment Judge Murray the workers "were bitching about her (Ms Reid)".

The tribunal was told that certain VSNI staff members are Facebook friends with a fake character named 'Bea Strong', set up to reflect Ms Reid, as the account user shares her date of birth and school.

Ms Gillespie told the tribunal that "never in my life have I come across an organisation" that created a "fictitious character" online. She described the idea of a number of VSNI staff being Facebook friends with the account as "alarming".

A lawyer for VSNI described Ms Gillespie's alleged "bunch of bitches" comment as an "appalling thing to say". When he asked Ms Gillespie if she thought a Mr Brendan Loughran, who chaired Ms Reid's disciplinary hearing, was a liar, she said: "Yes, he is."

When the lawyer suggested it was in fact Ms Gillespie who was a liar, she replied: "I deny that allegation."

Ms Gillespie confirmed she believed Mr Loughran had a pre-determined agenda with regard to Ms Reid.

She said as soon as Ms Reid was suspended, "I knew what the outcome would be".

Ms Reid has complained about the manner in which claims against her from at least 15 people were investigated and the handling of her dismissal.

Previously the tribunal heard Ms Reid was alleged to have used the phrase 'FIFO' which stands for 'Fit In or F*** Off' and that she had been dubbed "Myra" by some staff, after child killer Myra Hindley. The tribunal is yet to hear from Ms Reid.

It continues in Belfast today.

Background

Victim Support Northern Ireland is the charity that helps people affected by any type of crime.

According to its website, it provides "emotional support, information and practical help to victims, witnesses and others affected by crime". It receives around £2m a year from Stormont's Justice Department. Susan Reid was its chief executive for a decade. An employment tribunal alleging unfair dismissal is under way. A consultant giving evidence to the tribunal is alleged to have described staff at the charity as a "bunch of bitches".

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