South Scotland

Lesbian police officer wins homophobic abuse case

A lesbian police officer who suffered homophobic abuse from her sergeant has won her sex discrimination claim.

Pc Tracey West was regularly taunted by Sgt Michael Service, who claimed gay officers were "poofs" and "freaks".

Pc West was so traumatised by her six-month ordeal that she resigned from Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary and emigrated to Australia.

The 42-year-old had sued the force and Sgt Service for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She won her case after an employment tribunal in Glasgow ruled she was subjected to a relentless series of homophobic conduct.

Sgt Service has been ordered to pay Pc West £7,500, while her former employers must pay £2,500.

'Constant' abuse

A hearing in Glasgow was told the abuse started in early 2007 at the force headquarters in Dumfries.

Sgt Service first made a remark to Pc West that he would pass paperwork over the "dyke" to her at the office they shared.

Pc West later joined the Gay Police Association, and Sgt Service claimed members of the group were all "poofs" and "freaks".

Sgt Service also told her that one of her own parents must be gay.

Pc West said: "I was tired, I was stressed, it was constant. I was petrified of him and I was a nervous wreck, totally worn out by the whole thing."

The mother-of-two made an official complaint in August 2007 after more than six months of constant abuse.

Sgt Service was forced to resign in April 2008 after 20 years in the force as a result of the proceedings raised against him.

He claimed at the hearing that Pc West was lying and that she had made up the accusations to help fund her move to Australia.

In a written judgment, employment judge Raymond Williamson said the claimant had been subjected to "a relentless series of homophobic conduct" by Sgt Service for more than six months and that she had suffered significant distress and hurt feelings.

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