Whistleblower ‘taped to chair and gagged’ after complaining about racist and misogynistic culture at Scottish government agency.
Whistleblower DeeAnn Fitzpatrick said she was restrained at Marine Scotland’s office in Scrabster as a warning to keep quiet following years of bullying and harassment.
The fisheries officer, 49, has now taken her case to an employment tribunal.
A shocking photo of her tied to a chair with duct tape was obtained by BBC Scotland. It was allegedly taken by one of the men responsible.
Ms Fitzpatrick, a Canadian national, said the incident happened in 2010 after speaking out about the uncomfortable culture at the office in a remote location on Scotland’s north coast.
She told the tribunal that one of the men involved said to her: “This is what you get when you speak out against the boys.”
Ms Fitzpatrick tried to raise the incident with a manager soon after it happened, but it was not taken seriously.
In emails seen by the BBC, the manager responded: “I am sure they meant no harm and that was the boys just being boys.”
Ms Fitzpatrick has claimed that during a period of almost ten years she was also mocked about having a miscarriage and subjected to racist language, threatening behaviour and jokes about female workers being prostitutes.
One of the men allegedly involved, who has since left the agency, told the BBC: “These are false allegations. I can’t remember the event you mention, but if it did happen, it would have been office banter. Just a craic. Certainly nothing to do with abuse.”
Marine Scotland is the watchdog for the fisheries and aquaculture industries in Scotland. It is controlled by the Scottish government.
Ms Fitzpatrick, who lives in Janetstown, is believed to have been signed off from work since her father died in November 2016.
Rhoda Grant, a Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands, has been supporting Ms Fitzpatrick since 2010 after being alerted to her alleged treatment.
She described the photo as “horrific” after being shown it the first time, adding: “I’m slightly speechless”.
“She’s been subject to a long period of harassment, horrendous behaviour towards her,” said the politician.
“In some of my dealings with DeeAnn it’s very clear that there is a culture in that office that people can get away with what they say and what they do.
“It seems to me that it’s out of control.”
The Standard has contacted Marine Scotland for comment. A government spokesperson told the BBC: “The Scottish government has clear standards of behaviour which apply to all staff.
“Any concerns raised by staff are taken seriously and investigated fully.”