SBC official was sacked after prodding woman

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AN employment tribunal has heard how a senior official at Scottish Borders Council was sacked from his £50,000-a-year job after prodding a female colleague in the breast so hard she was left with bruising, writes Mark Entwistle.

Alan Hasson was dismissed in June 2010 as the head of community services after prodding the woman following a “fraught” meeting.

Community learning and development manager Majorie Hutton complained that the prod was in an intimate area and felt “meant”, but added that it was not done in a sexual way.

Mr Hasson, who lost his job following a disciplinary hearing, is now taking the local authority to an employment tribunal, claiming sex discrimination and disability discrimination.

The 54-year-old from Innerleithen attended the hearing in Edinburgh last week at which witnesses for the council spoke about the incident at a meeting in Hawick.

The council’s head of social work, Andrew Lowe, confirmed that Mr Hasson had been sacked despite his “unblemished” career.

Mr Lowe, who had chaired the original SBC disciplinary hearing, told the tribunal: “He prodded someone of the opposite sex in an intimate area. He is big, she is small, he is male, she is female and he is senior.”

He added: “I was very concerned that I had before me a senior colleague with an unblemished record and another colleague who was blameless and had to take appropriate action.

“I think what happened was that there was a conversation after a fraught meeting. Mr Hasson had something he needed to say, make a demonstration maybe.

“But it was not a demonstration, it was something that hurt and that was meant.

“I don’t expect officers in the Scottish Borders to go around prodding each other.

“I accept that he didn’t mean to cause her pain, but he did and for that I call it reckless.”

Ian Davidson, an employment solicitor for the council and a witness, said Mr Hasson claimed the incident may have been influenced by his medical condition.

Mr Davidson told the hearing that the manager produced a letter from his GP for the appeal hearing which revealed he suffered from depression during the latter half of 2009 and was on medication.

The GP’s letter said the fact he was off the medication at the time of the incident may have resulted in “uncharacteristic behaviour”.

Mr Davidson said the sacked manager, who was responsible for libraries, museums, arts and community learning, had objected to his dismissal on 12 grounds, including the fact he had not been found guilty of assault.

The hearing was also told that an appeal board of five “experienced” councillors considered the case in September the same year and decided not to overturn the sacking.

Mr Hasson’s representative, Anne Scott, claimed the decision was coloured by the fact the board had seen details of allegations about him which were unproved.

The hearing, before employment judge Susan Craig, is expected to resume on December 18.