Belfast Telegraph

We were right to dismiss chief for bullying and harassment of staff, says Victim Support chair

By Nevin Farrell

A leading figure with Victim Support Northern Ireland said the charity was right to sack former chief executive Susan Reid because of her "bullying and harassment" of staff.

Joseph Dunne, chairman of the board of trustees, was speaking at an industrial tribunal in Belfast yesterday where Ms Reid denies the allegations and is seeking substantial damages for what she claims was unfair dismissal.

Mr Dunne said he believed Ms Reid was "guilty of bullying and harassment", which was affecting staff.

He said staff turnover during her time in charge of the charity - which helps people affected by crime - was "certainly concerning" and he believed that Ms Reid's behaviour was impacting on staff.

The chairman said there had been "significant difficulties" between Ms Reid and members of staff at her previous place of unemployment, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

He said there were "credibility" issues surrounding Ms Reid, as she had stated her termination of employment at the RNIB was a result of restructuring.

Mr Dunne also said a comment allegedly made by Ms Reid to a former member of staff was "inappropriate". She is alleged to have said that he was "like a wee boy looking for his daddy's approval".

Mr Dunne felt that the alleged remark was a breach of confidentiality as he believed Ms Reid had divulged personal information.

He told the tribunal Ms Reid had bullied other members of staff, including a receptionist he said felt "bullied". This referred to an incident when Ms Reid reportedly asked the receptionist why she was not at her desk at 2pm even though it was said she had legitimate things to do.

Mr Dunne said that although it was recognised that Ms Reid had "contributed significantly to the organisation over the years she had been there", issues of confidence in her had arisen and he felt the decision to sack her had been the right action.

He also told the tribunal that staff said they "did not act in concert" in making allegations about Ms Reid.

Barrister Aidan Sands, acting for Ms Reid, said that when she said she lost her job at the RNIB as a result of reorganisation, that was "entirely correct". He claimed she had not been given a chance to respond to allegations about her previous employment.

He said the alleged remark "not evidence of bullying", and said what constitutes bullying was subjective.

Regarding the turnover of staff, the barrister said Ms Reid claimed it was lower than in other bodies. Mr Sands told the tribunal an appeal hearing for Ms Reid had "just rubber-stamped" the disciplinary panel decision.

And he said there was a "mocking element" to a fake Facebook account called 'Bea Strong', a user allegedly set up to reflect Ms Reid's identity.

The tribunal continues today.

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