Hereford & Worcester

Worcester wolf-whistles 'just banter', builder says

Ian Merrett
Image caption Builder Ian Merrett described wolf whistles as 'just a bit of banter'

A builder responsible for directing wolf whistles at a 23-year-old woman has described the gesture as "a bit of banter".

Poppy Smart said she reported workmen at a site in Worcester to police after being regularly singled out over the course of a month.

Builder Ian Merrett, who admitted wolf-whistling at Ms Smart, said "no harm was intended" by his actions.

West Mercia Police said it was a matter for the men's employers.

Mr Merrett said harrassment accusations had been "blown out of all proportion".

"It's always been part of it [the trade]," he said.

"No harm was intended. It's all got out of hand, no offence meant.

"I can understand her comments. Some girls don't mind it, some girls do.

"I may have annoyed her, I've maybe upset her a bit, but as far as harassment goes, if she'd come up to me or one of the other builders and said 'I don't like it, can you stop it', I'm sure we would have taken that into consideration."

Image copyright Poppy Smart
Image caption Poppy Smart said she could have dismissed the whistles had they been isolated incidents

'Intimidating and distressing'

Ms Smart said she had faced whistles and cat-calls from several builders over a few weeks and "eventually it got to the day where I had enough".

She said it was time the "culture was brought up to date" and that she found the behaviour "intimidating and distressing".

Mr Merrett said he had come forward as other builders, many innocent, had been unfairly shown on television and in news reports.

He said the contractor had told employees to stop whistling and the call had largely been respected.

"I've been on building sites since I was 18. Loads of people used to do it [wolf whistle]," he said.

"If you were sat there with your mates in the sun having a fag and a nice bit of totty walks past, yeah we used to wolf whistle and we never got into trouble for it."

However, he said he would now think twice about doing it again after the "hassle".

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