A social worker facing sexual harassment charges has admitted telling a female colleague about his experience of anal sex but said that there was “nothing salacious about it”.
Tom Starkey told a General Social Care Council conduct committee yesterday that he had reproached himself many times for sharing such personal information.
But he denied boasting to the same colleague Linda Gresty, who no longer works with him and is one of four women alleging harassment, about his affairs and telling women they would need to “bring their knickers because of what I’m going to do you”.
“Why would I go into some pornographic sequence of events that sounds like it comes from a film or a book,” he told the GSCC committee in London.
Starkey, a director of children’s and adult’s provider Clifford House, said he had told Gresty, whom he regarded as a friend of eight years, a story in which a former girlfriend had arrived at a hotel wearing only a coat and shoes.
He said he believed Gresty, who “drank pints” and “preferred the company of men”, would find the story funny.
But Starkey told the committee that “[Gresty] bit my head off, ripped into me and said it was completely unacceptable”.
He said he had apologised immediately to Gresty whom he considered to be his most able manager and held in the “highest esteem”.
Starkey went on to admit commenting on another female colleague’s appearance. He said receptionist Deborah Price had worn revealing clothes and had entered into banter. He would make comments such as “I see you have dressed for dinner”, the committee heard.
Starkey, who began his career as a residential social worker in the early 1980s and went on to become a partner of Clifford House, said: “My view was I was just another employee. It would not have crossed my mind that I should not engage. Looking back, I can see the behaviour from someone in my position was entirely inappropriate.”
He added that he had “stepped out of the arena of safety” by taking part in banter and having relationships, making himself vulnerable to allegations.
The hearing, which began last year but was postponed last August until this week, continues.