South Scotland

Dumfries restaurateur denies sexually harassing staff

The operator of an award-winning Dumfries restaurant has gone on trial accused of sexual harassment and assault charges against his staff.

Robert McAleese, 38, who runs Little Italy, appeared in court just hours after his restaurant picked up a prize in the annual Scottish Italian Awards.

He denies six charges of assault and making sexual remarks between November 2011 and July last year.

They include slapping two women on the buttocks and grabbing one by the hips.

'Aggressive attitude'

A former waitress told the court that the restaurateur made sexual remarks towards her.

She said she had been "shocked and disgusted" and told him not to speak to her like that - but said he had just laughed.

The 21-year-old student told the court she had taken a job at Little Italy in March 2013 and had put up with Mr McAleese's behaviour for three months because she needed the money for her studies.

She said he used sexual phrases to other girls but she did not think such "banter" was funny.

Under cross-examination, she agreed that he treated his staff well but said he had an aggressive attitude when working and used foul language which she did not consider appropriate.

The trial continues.

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites