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Woman awarded £1,000,000 after boss ‘raped’ her in hotel after work night out

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In the case of Ms M v Mr T – Mr T was the CEO of a recruitment agency employing roughly 115 staff in offices across the country. Ms M worked for Mr T from 26 September 2016 until her employment terminated on 4th October 2017.

Ms M alleges that on 22 March 2017 Mr T raped her. Mr T denies that any sexual activity took place whatsoever. As the incident took place in a hotel room there were no witnesses. Liability rested solely on whether this one incident occurred. Both parties’ cases relied almost entirely on attempts to undermine the credibility of the other. This was done through a mixture of highlighting discrepancies in their accounts of events and undermining the character of the other or any witnesses to peripheral events.

The tribunal heard Mr T ‘encouraged’ sexualised conversations in the office, and lap dances and alcohol were gifted to employees. This lead the panel to conclude the CEO ‘overstepping’ the boundaries was likely.

Heavy drinking sessions were also held, and during a leaving party one member of staff attempted to drink 20 shots in one hour. An award ceremony of ‘shots and slut drops’ took place.

Mr T denied the office had a party culture, which employment judge Emma Kate Webster called ‘utterly implausible’. On the evening of the alleged attack, Ms M was ‘drunk’ and ‘unsteady on her feet’, and could only ‘partially remember’ the night.

She said: ‘We find that the backdrop of a culture and organisation almost without any appropriate boundaries means that him overstepping those boundaries was more likely, particularly in light of him denying that such a culture existed at all.

‘This would have been harder to believe if the culture had been one of formality and strict guidelines as opposed to one where lap dances were paid for at Christmas parties, affairs between staff were common and alcohol regularly consumed to excess in the office.’

Mr T claimed he could produce emails which were sent during the ‘crucial time’ the alleged attack took place, but ultimately he was unable to do so.

Despite the panel’s conclusion, no criminal charges were made due to ‘poor’ police investigations with a ‘lack of good independent evidence’. In their conclusion, the panel said: ‘The woman has been consistent in stating that something happened that night. She did not immediately know that it was rape because she only partially remembered it.

‘We stress that we have made our decision and all our findings of fact on the balance of probabilities and based on the evidence which we were provided with; little of which was actually determinative of whether the alleged attack took place or not.

‘We conclude, on balance of probabilities, that the CEO had sex with the woman when she did not consent or did not have the capacity to consent.’

Ms M has now been awarded £995,127.67, which included financial losses due to her resignation, as well as £75,000 for personal injury and £17,000 for injury to feelings.

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