South West Wales

Awema: Ex-chief Naz Malik says he was a caring boss

A former chief executive of the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (Awema), accused of sexually harassing an ex-employee, has told an employment tribunal he was a caring boss.

Naz Malik denies sexual discrimination, harassment and victimising Sylwia Bobrowska.

While some personal comments were made, he never meant to cause offence, he said, and he denied grabbing at her cardigan.

The tribunal in Cardiff continues.

Mr Malik said personal comments he made about finance and administration officer Ms Bobrowska were meant to be complimentary.

He told the tribunal he does not deny he said some of the things attributed to him, but he never meant to cause offence.

Polish-born Ms Bobrowska, who was sacked in 2011, claims he repeatedly acted inappropriately towards her.

However, giving evidence, Mr Malik said he was a caring boss and in 11 years dealing with more than 100 members of staff, there had been no problems until that point.

From its Swansea offices, Awema dealt with people from 150 nationalities supporting people from ethnic minorities.

It has also been claimed women in the office were told not to approach men to shake hands because it would make them "look easy".

Sensitivities

Mr Malik said that was advice he had given to make staff aware of cultural sensitivities.

He denied asking Ms Bobrowska if she had a secret lover but said he had used the phrase "secret admire".

He told the tribunal he had been trying to make a fuss of her because she had received flowers and nobody in the office had commented on it.

Administrators were called in to wind up Awema's affairs in February after a report said there was a "fundamental lack of control" at the Swansea-based charity.

The findings of the Welsh government and Big Lottery Fund report into the spending of £8.4m in public funding were examined by police.

It said charity funds were used to pay for gym memberships for staff worth £2,120, rugby and cricket tickets totalling £800, and a £110 parking fine for Mr Malik.

It also said there was a "clear conflict of interest" because one of the charity's directors reporting to Mr Malik was his daughter Tegwen. There were "considerable increases" in her salary from £20,469 to £50,052.

Mr Malik and finance director Saquib Zia were sacked by the charity.

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