The head of a leading recruitment company raped a female member of staff after a drunken night out, a tribunal has ruled.
The chief executive was accused of attacking the woman in a hotel in 2017, when she was too drunk to consent. An employment tribunal heard the boss presided over a “work hard-play hard” culture, where drinking to celebrate success was routine and sexual conversations were “encouraged”.
The chief executive, who cannot be named, was questioned by police over the rape claim, which he denied, but the investigation faltered with evidence overlooked.
The woman, a manager within the firm, resigned shortly after the rape and took her former boss to a tribunal over claims of discrimination and sexual harassment. The tribunal ruled that the chief executive did rape the woman and criticised police for their “poor” investigation of her claim.
Two of the panel members concluded: “She did not necessarily know that it was rape because she only partially remembered it. She was embarrassed by what had happened and was perhaps unaware as to whether she initially consented or not.”
They found the chief executive had been in the hotel room for about 30 minutes and “had sex with the claimant when she did not consent or did not have the capacity to consent”.
On the day of the rape, staff at the firm had gone to the pub for a colleague’s leaving drinks.
The tribunal heard the chief executive accompanied the rape victim to her hotel room, when she claimed they kissed and he went on to rape her. He insisted there was no sexual contact.
One of the tribunal panel concluded that the rape had not happened, saying the woman’s account had changed repeatedly.
The panel member suggested the claim was made “in the hope of securing a settlement”. The tribunal said witnesses were not contacted during the “poor” police investigation, phones were not seized, and there were “huge gaps” between the complaint and interviews taking place.
“She tried to get the matter dealt with by the police but that has not happened,” they said. “We find the police investigation and report into this matter was poor.”
The tribunal, on a majority of two to one, upheld the woman’s claim. Damages will be assessed at a later stage.
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