Dean accused of intimidation

23 November 2012

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, the Very Revd Dermot Dunne, has been brought before an employment appeals tribunal by the cathedral's former musical director, Judy Martin, who alleged that she had been bullied, physically intimidated, and frightened by him in 2008.

She resigned her post in 2011, and returned to live in England; she has instituted a claim for constructive dismissal. The Dean denies the allegations.

Ms Martin told the tribunal last week that she found Dean Dunne "quite frightening" at a meeting, and was unable to understand the reasons for his "irrational outburst", but she believed that he felt that the choir was eclipsing events at the cathedral.

She has claimed that she was subjected to "persistent, serious bullying" by the Dean. There were "constant anti-English references", she said, and she was ignored and patronised.

She developed shoulder and back pain, which worsened, and she took sick leave in April 2009. In early 2010, Ms Martin said that she was accused of gross misconduct for revealing confidential information, after she had discussed with the choir the consequences that financial cuts might have. She resigned her post in January 2011.

When cross-examined, Ms Martin admitted to having written to a former dean, the late Desmond Harman, on two occasions, intimating that she was considering her position. Michael McNamee, for the Dean, asked her why, if having felt intimidated at the 2008 meeting, she had not approached him directly about his behaviour. Ms Martin said she thought that they would be able to continue to work together, and that all would be fine.

Mr McNamee put it to Ms Martin that a letter she wrote to the Dean, after further problems between the two, was rambling, subjective, and very personal. The letter had taken the Dean by surprise, and overwhelmed him by its content, tone, and manner.

Ms Martin's claims that the Dean authorised her to discuss options for funding costs would be denied by Dean Dunne, he said.

The tribunal has adjourned, and will continue in January.

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