The Danger of Gossip
Selina Gibb, Riverbank Lodge, Auchinlay Rd, Dunblane, FK15 9BF
In earlier posts I spoke of Selina Gibb's involvement in having me sacked. I had assumed that somehow Eileen MacDonald had forced Selina to make up stories about me to help in her attempt to get rid of me. On reflection, I think I may have given Selina too much credit as being an innocent person being forced against her will. Having thought about it, I don't think that is realistic.
When interviewed for the disciplinary investigation, Selina gave false accounts of two separate conversations I had with her; one in private and one which was witnessed by about seven colleagues. Selina and I had always got on very well, and it seemed bizarre that she would do that voluntarily. It didn't make sense, so I thought she must have been forced. But I now think that is unlikely. I now believe it is far more likely that Selina found herself in an awkward position due to her own stupidity.
There was a strong gossip culture in the team, and it seems that for years colleagues were being drip fed gossip about me by Eileen who I knew had been jealous of me. Selina knew that Eileen hated me and loved gossip. I think that following each of those conversations, Selina has sought to ingratiate herself with Eileen by misrepresenting them to her, and making them sound sinister. She was feeding the gossip monster. Selina would not at that stage have been planning to have me fired. She was just playing the game of gossiping about me.
Later when Eileen saw an opportunity for getting rid of me, she would have asked Selina for her help by reporting these 'sinister' conversations. That put Selina in an awkward position, because she either had to tell Eileen that she had lied to her, or she does the unthinkable, and formally repeats her lies.
Immediately before she gave her statement, Selina had been on holiday for about three weeks; plenty of time to weigh up her options. As a mother to three babies, Selina definitely made the wrong choice by deciding to repeat her lie in order to end a man's career. What began as a game of gossip, could end in disaster.
Selina claimed that, because of these conversations, she was frightened and anxious when with me. I have audio and documentary evidence that proves this to be a laughable lie. Selina's luck couldn't have been much worse. I mean, what were the chances of me accidentally recording her joking with me, and that the recording would even include an indication that it followed those allegedly sinister conversations? And what were the chances of her emailing me to invite me to hear 'lots of funnies' while she was allegedly frightened and anxious to be around me, and that I'd still have that email? The University has heard the recording and seen the email. The email and the recording, along with a transcript of its contents have been submitted to the tribunal. The university accepts that the transcript accurately describes what is said in the recording.
It shows that Selina had begun the conversation with me, and it shows her interrupting a work discussion I was having with another colleague. She interrupted in order to joke with me. Selina does not sound frightened or anxious, and I don't sound as though I would expect her to be frightened or anxious. We sound as though we are two colleagues who got on very well. Selina does not sound as though she is so frightened of me that she could no longer work with me.
To lie about someone in this manner in order to have him lose his livelihood represents serious defamation for which Selina is personally responsible. In her defense, she may claim that it was so obvious she was lying that the University should have known, and not fired me. I don't think that would stand up to scrutiny though. Her intention was to be believed that she could no longer work with me because she was so frightened. And officially, her story was so convincing that I was sacked. She has also had the opportunity to right her wrong since April 2010, but chose to continue with it. Judging by how happy she appears when she is out and about with Eileen, my situation doesn't seem to be causing her conscience too much trouble.
Bearing in mind that it is obvious that she lied, and that there were so many witnesses as well, I think the responsible thing for Selina to do would be to come forward and tell the truth. I wouldn't leave it too long though. I hope she fully understands the seriousness of her situation.
Last month, a student was jailed for six months when he pleaded guilty to stealing a £3.50 bottle of water. Selina's premeditated crime is infinitely worse, in my view. Her crime has cost me tens of thousands of pounds, has caused me very serious mental injury, and has possibly ended my career, and may even cause the end of my life. Needless to say, I'm very angry with Selina. VERY angry!
Lets consider Selina's thought process when she did this.
1 A complete lack of integrity. She knew that what she was doing was wrong and wicked, but she just went ahead and did it anyway. What a role model for her kids!
2 Totally selfish. No concern about what would happen to me. No concern about embarrassment to her family and to the university.
3 No consideration given to the fact that there were witnesses. She didn't expect the witnesses to find out about her false allegations.
4 No consideration given to the fact that there may be evidence that would show she lied.
5 No concern that she didn't have a single piece of evidence to support her allegations.
6 No consideration given to the fact that her partners in crime would be found out or admit to colluding with her. They must all have thought their stories were air tight.
7 No concern about what action I may take in response, even without evidence that she lied.
8 No concern that making false allegations is a sackable offence.
9 No concern about how difficult it would be to get a new job, having a record of making false allegations. Who would want to work with someone who makes false allegations?
10 No concern that she may have to testify under oath at a tribunal.
11 No concern about the laws of defamation.
12 No concern at all that I had thought of her as a friend, and had bent over backwards to help her.
13 No concern that the world would find out who the real Selina is.
14 No concern that it may eat at her conscience later, because she has no conscience.
Selina was interviewed by Graham Millar and Gail Miller at 3pm on 21 April 2010. She officially must have been extremely convincing, because at 9am the following day when they interviewed me, they didn't even mention Selina to me. But they felt so strongly about her evidence that they felt it merited a deviation from normal disciplinary procedure, and they included conclusions in their report; one of which highlighted their serious concerns about my conversation with Selina which had left her "uncomfortable and frightened and as a consequence is now nervous and anxious around him". Selina will have to explain how she went from frightened and anxious to laughing and joking, then back to frightened and anxious. Does she have a mental disorder perhaps?And Mr Toole will have to explain how he was at least 50% sure that she was telling the truth. Does he have a mental disorder perhaps?
Gail and Graham will also have to explain their performance as investigators. How can two investigators both perform so badly? You would think that if one was making a mistake, the other would point it out and correct it. These are both Grade 9 managers. Yet neither of them thought it was important to ask me for my account of the conversations I had with Selina. How convenient!
Selina's defamatory evidence could and should have been caught and stopped long before that point, but Selina now has them, Karen Stark and Mark Toole to thank for the nightmare in which she now finds herself. Not forgetting herself, of course!
The investigator's report is so malicious in its description of me, that I believe it is also defamatory. Mark Toole had promised me a fair and thorough investigation. So why does it not refer to Selina frequently laughing and joking with me? That is an indisputable fact. The investigator's report is only supposed to contain FACTS. But the facts are conspicuous by their absence. Why did the investigators include conclusions when they were not supposed to, and when they were in no position to, not having gathered the facts?
Selina is a bully. She is a special type of bully who bullies a certain type of individual. She targets people who are already targets of other bullies. This is called mobbing. She attacks people who are already weakened by the damage caused by other bullies.
People can be categorised by how they react to witnessing someone being attacked; for example a rape or assault victim. Some people will walk on by because they don't want to get involved. Some people will try to rescue the victim, even though it may put themselves in danger. They might not have thought it through before acting, but their instinct tells them that they should rescue the victim. Selina belongs to the third group. She 'smells blood' and wants to join in on the kill.
I can understand the first two types of people, but for the life of me, I can't understand the third. And apparently they are not rare. It frightens me. But it makes me wonder how these people would feel if they or their loved ones were being attacked, and passers by joined in on the attack. Would they think that was normal and to be expected?
I strongly believe that bullies and people who take part in mobbing must be punished in order to deter the next set of would be bullies. It is probably one of the most important things in the world today. Ideally it should be covered by systems of justice. If not, then what options do victims of bullies have?
Maybe that's a question we should ask Selina. What would she see as an appropriate and proportionate punishment for her behaviour that would deter others from copying her behaviour?
Alternatively, we could ask the victim what would be an appropriate and proportionate punishment.
However, the bully and the target are both emotionally involved, and are possibly not the best judges of appropriate punishment. Perhaps an independent judge could consider the punishments suggested by both the target and the bully, and decide which one of the two is more justified.
I spoke of how I considered Selina to be a friend, because that's how she presented herself to me face to face. Ironically, it was during our private conversation around January or February 2010 that I confided in her the toll that Kathy's bullying had taken on my health. She appeared sympathetic and genuinely concerned about my health, saying that I needed to look after myself. It was all an act. She was simply gathering and making up dirt on me to feed to her bully buddy.
The very last time I was with Selina, we were laughing and joking together when she came to talk to me about her skiing lessons. That was just a few days before I was suspended in March 2010. The next time I will be with Selina, we won't be laughing and joking. I will be cross examining her at the employment tribunal about the statement she gave for the disciplinary investigation, and comparing it with the irrefutable facts that show she lied. Ironically, I expect she will be frightened and anxious.
What I find fascinating about Selina's predicament is how other people have reacted to it. How have our colleagues reacted to it, and in particular, the witnesses? Bullying, scapegoating and mobbing had made the team become dysfunctional. But in a team of 16, you would expect some 'normal' people not to be effected by it. What are their thoughts on this? What about Selina's husband? Has she told him? Did she lie to him too? What about her parents and her sister? What will she tell her kids when they come home from school having learned from their friends that she is a bully who lied to get an innocent man sacked?
The investigators' performance in the process was horrendous. It will look terrible to the tribunal who will not be fooled for a second that it was ever meant to be genuine, especially since there were two of them at such a senior level. Even worse for the uni is that when I received their report, I wrote to Mark Toole several times saying that it was obviously a sham, and I pleaded with him to carry out a proper investigation. He simply ignored my pleas which I copied to the Occupational Therapy doctor. He knew that I was already suffering from stress and that this was making it a whole lot worse. And remember, I had just a few weeks earlier made a protected disclosure to the Principal informing her that the uni was failing in its duty of care. And Mark will have to explain how he could possibly have been happy with the investigation, such as it was. All of this means that it is likely to greatly increase the compensation I receive, and it will draw attention to the corrupt nature of senior management. The uni wishes to challenge my reinstatement. It might be that they won't be able to afford not to reinstate me. Their lawyer drew the tribunal's attention to their limited resources on Wednesday. To top it all, the university had known that their actions had caused me to become suicidal. I had discussed it with Occupational Therapy. It couldn't look much worse for the uni. I would be surprised if it didn't make the national news. This could even become one of the UK's landmark cases.
Then I may also have to seek damages from the individuals who chose to defame me. This may include Gibb, MacDonald, O'Neil, Forsyth, McCabe, Stark, Schofield, Toole, Kemp, Millar and Miller.
From Selina's statement, I now see that she said that she had told a colleague about the alleged frightening conversation. It was her colleague who informed Eileen MacDonald.
To be continued...