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Scientist at Barts Health lab in Whitechapel ‘sexually bullied’ female colleague, tribunal is told

PUBLISHED: 17:00 22 January 2020

Specialist biodemical scientist Paul Grist denies 17 allegations of making sexually-motivated comments. Picture:  Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard

Specialist biodemical scientist Paul Grist denies 17 allegations of making sexually-motivated comments. Picture: Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard

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A senior scientist at the UK’s largest health trust “sexually bullied” a female colleague with repeated comments on her appearance and dubbed her a “sexy librarian”, a tribunal heard.

Paul Grist allegedly told the woman he "only hired her because of her looks" and referred to her as a "belly dancer".

The specialist biomedical scientist, working in blood transfusions and haematology, is accused of making a string of comments on her appearance as they worked together at Barts Health Trust.

Grist, who no longer works with the trust, now faces misconduct charges, and is also accused of telling colleagues discussing interviewees for an upcoming job: "Forget about that, did any of them have big boobs?"

Giving evidence to the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service in London, the woman — referred to as Colleague A — said Grist had marked the date of her period on a calendar and pointed it out to her when she was "being grumpy".

Shortly after she started working in his department, Grist is accused of telling her: "I hired you because you were showing your legs on the day of the interview."

She claims he called her "stupid" during her work, and allegedly commented: "They just wanted her for her titties."

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Giving evidence via video link, the woman told the tribunal: "Other female colleagues told me he had a habit of making women cry."

Wendy Hewitt, representing Grist, suggested the woman had misconstrued jokes, and pointed out she had exchanged friendly emails and out-of-hours texts with her boss after some of the alleged incidents as well as buying him a birthday present.

"This man, who you say had been mercilessly sexually bullying you", said Ms Hewitt. "You left him a bottle of wine. Why would you do that?"

The woman replied she had been "just trying to create a positive environment".

Grist, who managed almost 90 people in the Whitechapel-based lab, is also accused of telling another female colleague to "wear something short and tight" for a job interview.

Dr Tom Butler, a consultant in the department, said Grist "adopted an informal style" of management. "Sometimes I think that worked," he said. "But other times it did not."

Grist denies 17 allegations of making sexually-motivated comments.

The tribunal, which will rule if Grist can still practise as a biomedical scientist, continues.


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