Ex-assistant director faces charges over ‘Miss Whiplash’ remark

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A woman was left “mortified” after an assistant director of children’s services referred to her as “Miss Whiplash”, a General Social Care Council conduct hearing was told.

Ms A said she wanted the “ground to swallow me up” after Douglas Adams, 56, is alleged to have said to her: “I can see you in a Miss Whiplash outfit with high leather boots taking them [her male colleagues] in hand”.

Adams, then assistant director of children’s services at Barnsley Council, made the comment in November 2005. Ms A claimed Adams had apologised to her profusely in private the following day, but she doubted the sincerity of the apology.

“I think he realised he had overstepped the mark and was trying to placate me,” she said.

She went on to say she had regretted not making a full complaint at the time but had worried that she was overreacting.

Adams, of Nottingham, was dismissed for gross misconduct in August 2006 and is now unemployed.

He is facing charges in relation to four female colleagues. His dismissal followed an investigation into a complaint by one of the women.

Ms D, a temporary administrative worker, then aged 20, had complained that Adams had told her she should have an abortion and that her boyfriend would not love their unborn child.

The committee also heard that Adams said to another female colleague in his team, “I bet you take it up the a***” during an office Christmas party in 2005.

Ms C said Douglas Adams, who was her line manager at Barnsley Council, had whispered the comment into her ear at a restaurant table.

She told the hearing: “I was absolutely shocked and felt numb…I felt exceedingly embarrassed.”

“It was not referred to again but it made me wary of him. I was anxious and I made sure if we were in any social situation I did not sit anywhere near him,” she added.

Ms C explained she had gone on to “bury” what had happened and had only later chosen to make a statement when she heard he was appealing against his dismissal and feared he would be successful.

“Transgressed boundaries”

Ms C said that there had been “in no way, shape or form” a culture of sexual banter in the office but that Adams made offensive comments about others. “I was uncomfortable with the way he dealt with administrative staff and junior staff,” she said, adding that he “transgressed boundaries” and had an “overfamilarity”.

Also giving evidence Sandy Keen, director of social services at the council at the time, said she had been “extremely surprised” when Ms D’s allegation was made and that Adams had contacted her by phone after he was suspended in June 2006. “He was very distressed and keen for the hearing to take place as soon as possible.”

Adams, who did not attend the first day of the hearing on Monday in London, is alleged to have said during his disciplinary in July 2006 that he was “deeply ashamed” of what he had said to Ms D, and that he intended the remarks as “shock tactics”.

Check www.CommunityCare.co.uk for more updates on the Douglas Adams hearing, which continues today.

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