In P v Crest Nicholson Operations Limited a major UK property developer failed to protect a woman from a “predatory” manager who raped her after a West End Christmas party, a tribunal has found.
The Crest Nicholson employee carried out the attack on a colleague at a London hotel after an all-day Christmas party at the Piano Works on November 28, 2019. He had earlier twice sexually assaulted another woman at the work party in public view.
Despite the “clear and present” danger he posed, which included threatening to fight a colleague who confronted him over the sexual assaults, the incident was not escalated to top managers also present at the party.
“He was drunk, had sexually assaulted a colleague at least twice, pinning her against a pillar during the latter assault, and had squared up to another colleague,” said employment judge Roger Tynan. “The situation cried out for a decisive intervention.”
Instead, the man later left the party with another woman who was not aware of the sexual assaults and who had “placed her trust” in him as a “senior colleague” to help her back to her hotel.
He made an unwanted advance when he tried to kiss her in the taxi and then raped her in her hotel room, the tribunal found.
The tribunal said: “We find that she did not consent to any form of sexual activity with him and indeed find that in her intoxicated state she lacked essential capacity to give such consent.”
The victim suffered “internal bleeding and bruising” in the ordeal.
Her attacker was suspended from work on December 16 and was fired the following month.
The tribunal heard that the attacker twice contacted the second victim in a bid to coerce her into staying silent, including while suspended, telling her: “Both our families have a lot to lose”.
The rape was investigated by police but dropped by prosecutors fifteen months later, citing “insufficient evidence”.
Employment judges found that Crest Nicholson was legally liable for the actions of its manager in the tribunal case because it had failed to “fully discharge its responsibilities to protect” the victim from him.
The panel said it believed she had been left to “fend for herself” by one senior manager who did not intervene when she was leaving Piano Works because he “presumed the situation was consensual as ‘these things always seem to happen’”.
It upheld three counts of harassment against Crest Nicholson, meaning it could now be forced to pay out to the victim, who is entitled to lifelong anonymity as the victim of a sex offence.
Crest Nicholson said: “This judgment refers to unacceptable and unlawful behaviour which has no place in any personal or work environment.
“The health and welfare of our colleagues is our number one priority. As we are appealing this judgment it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.”
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