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Thursday, 23 December, 1999, 07:17 GMT
Sexist comments 'forced banker to quit'

Kay Swinburne says she was the victim of sexual innuendoes


A successful City banker has told a tribunal that she was forced out of her highly-paid job by a manager who continually referred to women as "hot totty" and a "bit of skirt".

Kay Swinburne, 32, alleged that she was the victim of sexual innuendoes made by her line manager, Hugh Tidbury, at Deutsche Bank, one of the world's biggest financial firms.

In her witness statement she said he regularly made comments about "hot totty" and referred to a particular woman as a "bird", saying she was "a bit of all right".

Ms Swinburne also alleges that Mr Tidbury referred to Christine Westerland, a junior investment banker, as a "good looking bird" in front of three or four colleagues.

She said: "I became increasingly upset by Hugh Tidbury's sexist comments in the work place. As time went on they increasingly became directed personally at me as opposed to being general 'banter'."

The tribunal in central London heard that Ms Swinburne of Wimbledon, south west London, left her 300,000 a year job in Deutsche's investment banking division in London last April.

Ms Swinburne, who has a doctorate and an MBA, also alleges that she unfairly missed out on promotion.

'No response'

Andrew Walker, human resources director at Deutsche Bank, told the tribunal that several attempts had been made to discuss the allegations with Ms Swinburne in order to carry out a full investigation, but she was not forthcoming.

Jeremy Mullen QC, representing the bank, told the hearing: "It is accepted that Mr Tidbury did make some inappropriate and sexist comments.

"An offer had been made to compensate Ms Swinburne but no response had been forthcoming."

But he said the bank's decision not to promote her was not a case of sexual discrimination.

He said Ms Swinburne had missed out because despite working hard she had not generated revenue for the bank as she had done the year before.

John Hand QC, representing Ms Swinburne, said Mr Tidbury had developed an "irrational and unlawful" prejudice against his client.

'Juvenile and mean'

He said: "The kind of man Mr Tidbury is, is best illustrated by the fact he would say things in order to get a rise out of her. She reacted with righteous indignation and he enjoyed that.

"It's juvenile and it's mean and it is the working culture Ms Swinburne had to endure."

Mr Hand said that after Ms Swinburne's marriage last year, Mr Tidbury had assumed she would become less devoted to her work.

He said: "It is stereotypical and it is cultural and it is an assumption made by Mr Tidbury."

The tribunal was told that Mr Tidbury had been given a formal verbal warning after being found guilty of occasionally using inappropriate language when describing women.

Judgment was reserved.

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