Disciplinary Hearing

Mark Toole

See Timeline and Personnel

I received notification from Mark Toole that he was arranging a Disciplinary Hearing. For the first time, I was now able to see what the allegations were. I received copies of the statements from the complainants, and I received a copy of the Investigators' report.

The investigators' report is intended to establish the facts, and not to make any judgements. However, the report produced by Gail Miller and Graham Millar was precisely the opposite. Facts had been deliberately avoided and ignored. The report contained conclusions, and the "findings" were highly judgemental too. It was obvious that it wasn't intended to be an honest report. Ignoring facts was the tactic that the university had used for the grievance hearing as well as the appeal against the grievance decision, and they saw no reason to deviate from a winning formula.

Depite his previous involvement in my grievance and with his informal investigation, Mark had decided that he was going to chair the hearing himself. Far too risky to have an independent chair, obviously. He was also aware that I had made a Disclosure to the University Principal stating that I did not feel that he and HR were complying with the University Anti Bullying policy, by failing to take my grievance against Kathy's bullying seriously.

I could see that everything I'd said was ignored, and that I was the only person being honest. I could also see that the Investigators had deliberately avoided interviewing an obvious witness to an incident that was crucial to the investigation. It was an incident I'd already written and spoken to Mark about several times, but he was determined not to tell me the outcome of a discussion he had with Jackie O'Neil about this very incident. Now for the first time, I could see that Jackie had lied about that incident too. It was an incident where Jackie had screamed at me at the top of her voice while slamming her hand on her desk. She did this in an office occupied by up to 14 team colleagues. David Black was right next to me when it happened. I had already described it to Kathy in David's presence. The only possible reason that I can think of for both Mark and the investigators not to have interviewed David was because they knew very well that I had given the correct account of the incident. Jackie screamed at me because she thought I had made a mistake, when in fact it was she who had made the mistake. This was fairly common for Jackie. who despite frequently having to come to me for help with her own work because she lacked the skills to do it herself (even after 12 years in the job), she would frequently, with extraordinary arrogance believe that she knew my job better than I did, to the extent that she undid work that I'd done because she thought I'd done it incorrectly, even after I had explained to her two times that it was correct. Her manager, Kathy McCabe knew about this, but just chose not to do anything about it in those 12 years. Mark had offered to arrange a meeting with me and Jackie to discuss the problems. That could have been very helpful to me, but also to Jackie. She has been doing her job for 12 years, but it's never been brought to her attention just how frustrating she is to work with. However, Mark changed his mind, and cancelled the meeting. So, I've been dismissed, Jackie has once again gone unpunished for screaming at me, and she still probably thinks she is doing a great job, and is a joy to work with.

Screaming at me was pretty bad, and is included in the university's examples of bullying. Much worse though, is that once again Jackie had gone to Kathy and given a very false account of the incident by claiming that MY mistake had caused her to have to work until 10pm that day. The truth is that HER mistake would have delayed her for about an hour. This was due to David and me quickly fixing HER mistake. HER mistake had caused me and David extra work. In her statement, Jackie still refers to MY mistake which she says is evidence of my stress. Erm, no Jackie. It was YOUR mistake which was due to your inability to focus on your work instead of looking for faults in other people. Mark wasn't interested in these mere facts. He says he sees no reason to disbelieve Jackie. He should explain why. If he can't give a reasonable explanation, he should resign or be sacked. He has irrefutable proof that she lied.

I was not allowed to talk to any of my colleagues, so my girlfriend, Ruth spoke with David about that incident. David confirmed that Jackie had shouted at me angrily. Ruth wrote a letter confirming this. I submitted that letter as evidence.

When I received the report from Mark and could see that the imvestigation had been carried out so dishonestly, my health deteriorated once again. Everything was stacked against me, except the facts, but Mark didn't care about the facts. I could see that he was determined to dismiss me, and that the same tactic of ignoring evidence would be used. If he had intended for the procedure to be honest, he would surely have asked the investigators to go back to the complainants to check out the conflicting evidence. He would also have insisted that they interview David.

I knew that there was lots of evidence available to refute the allegations, but I needed access to my office PC to obtain it. Mark placed strict time limits on my access to my PC, and because my health wasn't great, that was very inconvenient. Still, I managed to find lots, but could probably have found more if I'd had more time. The written evidence makes it absolutely clear that all of the complainants had lied.

For example, Una Forsyth had stated that she had avoided me for four years because I give her "the creeps". She also stated that she prefers to deal with my colleague, David, because he is more helpful than me, as I delay responding to her. She claimed that I had told Karen Eccleson that I had a soft spot for Una and hoped to get together with her five years ago while she was married, and that that was inappropriate. While giving that statement, she was reported to be "visibly upset". She claimed that I had made a certain female colleague's (LM's) life a misery and that I see women as being vulnerable. The picture she was intending to portray was that I was a woman hating monster, and this was to fit with the statements that the other complainants had given. It was obvious that the complainants had colluded.

I had stated at my interview that Una had recently cooked a meal for me. If that were true then it would render Una's evidence completely unreliable. The investigators and Mark didn't ask Una about this meal she had cooked for me, and I expect Mark was just going to say that he didn't believe me. However, I was able to submit emails that Una and I had sent each other about that meal she had cooked for me. It is clear from these emails that we were on very friendly terms, and that Una was eager to impress me with her culinary skills. She hadn't cooked a meal for David (or anyone else) with whom she claimed to get on better. It also throws doubt on the claim that I had said that I wanted to "get together" with her five years ago while she was married. Why would she be cooking for someone she believes has unwanted desires for her? Why would she wait five years to be "visibly upset" by this? Even more obvious though, I explained that Una's marriage broke up EIGHT years ago, and that shortly afterwards she had a four year relationship with another man. I even told them that she had relocated after her marriage broke up to be closer to her boyfriend and that this would be in HR's records. I was even able to give evidence that suggested that it was Una who had a soft spot for me, which was backed up by evidence submitted by my girlfriend who had suspected this too, and who had been living with me for more than 6 years.

I also submitted evidence that showed clearly that she would come to me, rather than David for assistance. Furthermore I showed evidence that she frequently came to me with matters that she knew wasn't my responsibility, and that she did this because I am very obliging. It's also possible that she came to me simply because she enjoyed being with me. I certainly felt she spent more time with me than was necessary when she was dealing with the lottery syndicate money. I also submitted an email she sent me telling me about a man who had his penis stuck in a metal pipe; hardly the sort of thing you do with someone who gives you the creeps. I also referred to an email she sent me (and just me) with two animated files that showed cartoon characters having oral sex. I also referred to a time when she had come to me first thing in the morning dressed provocatively, and that it had made me feel sexually intimidated, and that I felt she had done it deliberately. I also referred to occasions while she and I were both married, when she would tell me that she wished her husband was more like me. Also when we played squash, she would wear a very skimpy outfit, and when her marriage broke up, she told me that her husband thought she was having an affair with me.

I also showed Mark an email I'd sent to Una shortly after she had told me that she didn't like being line managed by Eileen MacDonald. She felt that Eileen was overly critical of her spending time collecting lottery money. She felt it was pointless being managed by Eileen as she learned nothing from her. She added that she learned far more from me. I had said in my statement that Una was very enthusiastic and keen to learn. Una replied to that email and highlighted that I have helped her a lot with her work.

Unknown to me, Una had been interviewed as part of my grievance against Kathy. She was asked about the occasion when she physically assaulted me 3 years earlier. She said that when she returned to our office following her interview, I looked at her gloating and smug because she'd been spoken to about the assault. Karen Stark confirmed that this was impossible because I was not told who was being interviewed or when. I had also written to Karen to protest that such interviews should not take place at all because they were irrelevant to my grievance, and would only cause bad feelings within the team. So even if I'd known she'd been interviewed, I wouldn't have been gloating about it. I hadn't expected Una would have been interviewed because when I referred to the assault in my grievance, I hadn't used her name.

Selina Gibb had given similar evidence about me. It was obvious that she had colluded with the others. She also made the claim that she preferred dealing with David rather than me. Yet again, I showed evidence that it was me she repeatedly came to. I even said that in the 6 years since David joined the University, I had never seen either Una or Selina go to David rather than me, despite the fact that they had to pass him in order to come to me. Selina had claimed that, following a conversation with me, she was anxious and nervous around me. I had told Mark that both Una and Selina were laughing and joking with me on the day of my grievance hearing. I also submitted a personal email that Selina had sent me in which she states that she is going to tell me "lots of funnies" about her skiing lessons in the tea room. That's not the action of someone who is anxious and nervous with me. She wasn't anxious or nervous because she had wholly misrepresented a private conversation I had with her, saying that I had frightened and alarmed her.

Selina had also claimed that I had asked her where she got her University degree, knowing that she didn't have a degree. She said that I did this to make myself feel superior. I denied saying that, and I told Mark that I had always been very supportive of Selina's education. She had taken a computing course some years ago, and she had asked me for some help with it. I also said that recently she had told me she was bored with her job, and that she wanted to do some technical work that Una does. I was able to prove that I had set Selina up with a training course and created space on a database for her to carry out the exercises, and I submitted an email she sent me saying that she was really enjoying the course. Neither Eileen nor Kathy had ever considered this for her.

To put some sense of perspective on this; just a few weeks before I was suspended, Selina came to me for the second time, to tell me about an issue that was upsetting her. About 5 times a year, there was a requirement for someone to phone HR to obtain a small piece of information. It would have taken no more than two minutes to do this. However, Selina was upset because she felt that EB should be the person to phone for it, and she felt that EB was being a bit bossy with her by telling her that she has to phone for it. To solve the problem, I spent roughly half a day, including my lunch hour and some time after hours, writing a program that would automatically provide Selina with that piece of information. So it could be said that I spent roughly four hours in order to save Selina about ten minutes work each year. That's not why I did it though. I did it to stop her feeling upset. I wouldn't have upset Selina for the world. She was one of my closest friends in the team. This is the email I sent her the first time the information was sent to her automatically.

I also showed Mark an email that Jackie claimed in her statement that I didn't send her. I also referred to a document that he should look at to see that her story was untrue. He chose not to look at that document.

The complainants had also colluded to claim that I delay responding to their work requests. My most recent appraisal form signed by my manager confirms that I respond quickly to requests for work in order to prevent my colleagues being held up. I showed Mark that appraisal which is extremely positive and contains nothing that supports the allegations.

It was abundantly clear that the complainants had lied and that they had colluded to arrive at their lies. Not only that, with the evidence I was giving it was clear that I was someone who went out of my way to help my colleagues, especially the ones who were complaining. At this point, if Mark had been genuine, he would have apologised and said that these were malicious complaints. Instead, Mark has said that he believes them. That's not a mistake in my view; it's a lie. If he genuinely believed the complaints, then he would surely try to explain the enormous inconsistencies between their statements and the facts. However, in his report in which he dismisses me, he once again does not refer to the facts. It's as though they don't exist.

He should explain how it is that Una came to cook me my favourite meal in order to impress me when she says she avoided contact with me. He should explain how I was able to add her as a friend on Facebook without her asking me to. He should explain the sexually explicit emails she sent me, when she claims I give her the creeps. He should explain how Selina is anxious and nervous around me, yet keen to tell me "lots of funnies" face to face. He should explain how Jackie claims not to have received an email from me, when I was able to show him it, and show that she had acted on it. He should explain the great many more examples where the complainants' statements are inconsistent with the facts. He can't explain any of that, and he hasn't even asked those individuals to explain it, because he knows that they can't either. He knows that they were lying, and he knew that long before he saw any evidence from me.

I raised a grievance against Eileen MacDonald more than two years ago. Kathy refused to deal with it, and passed it to Peter Kemp. Peter said he would deal with it, but didn't. It was then passed to Mark when he joined the university. He asked me if I still wanted to pursue it, and I said yes. More than a year later, in the presence of my union rep, I asked him when it was going to be processed. He falsely claimed that I had withdrawn it. I confirmed that I hadn't, and that I still wanted it to be processed. He never processed it, and still falsely claims that I withdrew it.

About a week before these complaints were made, I made a complaint against Jackie. Mark said he'd deal with it, then changed his mind. I had already made a complaint to Kathy about Jackie, but she never processed it, and said that she wasn't interested because she felt that her employees should sort such things out between themselves.

Although I hadn't made a complaint against Una, she had physically assaulted me at a work's night out in December 2006. Kathy, in the presence of Mark, admitted that she had known about it, but hadn't acted on it because it didn't happen in her presence. As part of my grievance, Una was asked about it (against my wishes), and took the huff. This undoubtedly led to Una colluding with Eileen and Jackie to make up these bogus complaints about me.

The biggest shock was discovering that Selina had taken part in the collusion. She was one of the last people I would ever have suspected would involve herself in a conspiracy to deprive me of my livelihood. You really cannot trust anyone.

Before the Disciplinary Hearing, I wrote to Mark offering to undertake a polygraph test along with the complainants. I even offered to pay for the testing. Needless to say, my offer wasn't taken up.

In total, five employees have made malicious complaints against me - all very obviously false. It is a very serious disciplinary matter to make malicious complaints, yet Stirling University has rewarded those individuals with my dismissal. Can you imagine how that makes me feel?

At the beginning of the hearing, Mark announced that the hearing would finish by 4pm, and that it would not be continued another day. This basically confirmed that he had already reached his decision and wasn't interested in hearing the evidence. I attempted to explain the background to events and referred to documents to support what I was saying, but we were running out of time. So I had to ask Mark to refer me to any allegations that he considered serious enough to dismiss me for, so that I could respond to it. He wasn't able to answer that, and said that we had to look at the picture as a whole. So I responded to every single allegation. No evidence was submitted that supported any of the allegations apart from two emails I'd sent Una Forsyth. Una collected the lottery syndicate money for me to buy the tickets. She emailed the syndicate to say that she didn't want to do it anymore. I replied and jokingly asked "Was it something I said?" Over the next couple of days I began to wonder if she was blanking me. This was something she had done a few years previously, and I didn't know why she had done it. Then I noticed that she had deleted me as a friend from Facebook. This confirmed my suspicion that she was blanking me again. I still didn't know why she was blanking me, but the previous time she had done it led to her physically assaulting me. So I emailed her to suggest that if there was a problem that she either speak with me or Mark Toole about it, so that we could have it sorted out. I was pretty sure I hadn't done anything to have caused it. Later I discovered the reason she wasn't speaking to me was that she had been interviewed about the assault as part of the grievance investigation.

I also submitted an email she sent me on another occasion when she had snapped at me and snatched a piece of paper from my hands. I couldn't understand why she had done it because I had just been helping her with a piece of work. She explained that it was something unrelated to me.

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