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‘Spiteful sex discrimination’ – embassy secretary awarded £400,000

After being subjected to an ongoing campaign of sexual harassment along with spiteful conduct by senior staff at the Qatari Embassy, a former secretary has won her claim for compensation after bringing her case before an employment tribunal.

Deanne Kingson was awarded £400,000 after she won her claim for sex and religion against the Qatari government. Ms Kingson was repeatedly exposed to discrimination and harassment while she held her post at the embassy in London.

Ms Kingson stated that executive ambassador Fahed Al-Mushairi had persisted in making sexual advances towards her. After she continued to refuse his requests, he turned his attention to her daughter. Al-Mushairi said that he planned on proposing to her daughter who was 19 years old at that time. This was because without breaching Islamic rules he could have sex with her outside marriage.

Al-Mushairi, between 2006 and 2008, invited Ms Kingson to chew Qat. This is a stimulant. He invited her to partake in this at his penthouse on numerous occasions. Al-Mushairi claimed that chewing it made his friend become sexually aroused and suggested that Ms Kingson try it.

In 2010 Al-Mushairi focused his attention on Ms Kingson’s daughter and this continued into 2013.

At the Central London Employment Tribunal hearing Ms Kingson stated that she had been suspended for two weeks because a visitor had not been met at the airport. She had been given incorrect information by a colleague. When she returned to work, she was repeatedly threatened with dismissal, which Al-Mushairi found amusing to watch.

Ms Kingson claimed that she was subjected to belief discrimination by Al-Mushairi when he repeatedly told her she should follow Islam because of her family name originating from Mohammed. He also refused her Ramadan greeting because he claimed she did not believe in God.

Yet another diplomat Ali Al Harji insisted that Ms Kingson arrange ‘sex parties’ for him. He tried to persuade her to go on holiday with him.

In June 2014 Ms Kingson’s line manager Mahmoud Ayyad dismissed her with no reason given. Male colleagues were promoted with no justification. In September 2014 Ms Kingson brought her claim to the tribunal.

Ms Kingson stated that she felt she was not able to leave her job because she was a single parent with two dependant children. She felt feelings of fear, shame and humiliation. She could not sleep at night and lost her appetite. Ms Kingson was constantly fearful and was frequently reduced to tears both during the day and at home.

Soon afterwards Ms Kingson was diagnosed with clinical depression. She still suffers with this and it has led her to contemplate suicide. Because of this she has battled to find permanent work and manages to get by on temporary work and state benefits.

Jill Brown, employment judge stated that Ms Kingson had been the subject of humiliating treatment. This had violated her dignity and she felt degraded as a result. She had been insulted throughout her employment with the embassy.

Additionally, there were extremely aggravating issues in the case which meant that Ms Kinsgon was entitled to a significant amount of compensation. As a junior employee she was subjected to appalling treatment by senior members of the diplomatic staff.

The employment judge went on to say that Ms Kingson’s treatment was disrespectful of her sex and religion. She was treated in a high-handed way with malicious intent and wilfully insulted. In short, the treatment was vindictive and spiteful.

Ms Kingson was awarded a total of £388,920 comprised of belief discrimination, sex discrimination, injury to feelings, psychiatric injury, loss of earnings and unpaid holidays. The judge’s decision to award this amount was because although Ms Kingson is fluent in Arabic, she has not been able to find another job and the amount would cover future loss of income.

No one from the Qatari embassy was represented at the tribunal, nor did they take part in the proceedings.

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