Social worker Tom Starkey has told a conduct committee that women alleging sexual harassment were lying.
Starkey, who is allegedly harassed four female colleagues he worked with over 10 years, has admitted behaving inappropriately but said he had never intentionally harassed or bullied anyone.
Giving evidence to a General Social Care Council committee, Starkey said: “There has been some incredible, deliberate lying.” He added that he did not believe there had been a conspiracy in order to oust him from his position at the outset but “get Tom out had become the long-term goal”.
“People have sought to use the process for their own means and advances. But I do not believe a group of people got together and said let’s get Tom out.”
He went on to say that one of the women, Victoria Preece, who he claims he had a relationship with, had made complaints because she had not told her husband about their affair.
He added that she may also have been concerned that he would discriminate against her husband, who also worked at children’s and adult provider Clifford House. Starkey described another of the women Stephanie Rowles as a “dishonest witness,” and said Debbie Price had been genuinely upset but he really had “no idea about the nature of that upset”.
The women allege that Starkey, a director of Clifford House, pestered them for dates and made inappropriate and sexually explicit comments. He also allegedly showed Preece his erection and put his hand up her dress ripping her tights and bruising her legs, which he has denied.
Starkey said “embitterment took over” after partner Nick Nenadich informed him in a voicemail message that he wanted him to relocate permanently to another office. Two social workers commissioned to investigate the women’s complaints upheld them and the women had refused to work alongside Starkey.
“I was flabbergasted,” said Starkey, adding he sought legal advice. Nenadich’s response had been to tell him “this is war”.
“It has felt tantamount to that ever since,” said Starkey.
The hearing at the GSCC conduct committee in London continues.