Wonk nickname 'was offensive and humiliating', councillor inquiry hears
VETERAN city councillor John Fareham bullied a support officer by regularly refusing to use her proper name, a standards inquiry has heard.
The Conservative group leader at Hull City Council is alleged to have breached the code of conduct for councillors in his behaviour towards Inga Jorgensen.
Councillor John Fareham says he thought he had a 'good working relationship' with Inga Jorgense and the allegations came 'like a bolt out of the blue'.
She was working as a principal support officer to the Conservative group at the Guildhall until August last year.
Independent solicitor Richard Auton, who investigated complaints by Ms Jorgensen, told the hearing how Councillor Fareham would regularly refer to her as "wonk".
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It is also alleged the politician called her "woman" and "foreigner" instead of using her proper name during conversation.
He is also accused of calling her a lesbian and describing her as having "lesbian" hair.
Mr Auton said: "She felt she was very rarely called by her own name.
"She was persistently referred to as 'wonk'. It is one of those words that might or might not have derogatory connotations.
"She felt she had become known as 'wonk' rather than Inga and that become something of an issue."
Mr Auton said the politician might have meant his comments to be taken as lighthearted banter but he claimed their impact on Ms Jorgensen had not been fully recognised by the councillor.
He said using words such as "wonk" created "a hostile, humiliating and offensive environment".
Mr Auton added: "Calling her a lesbian, referring to her hair as lesbian hair and making comments of a sexual nature in her presence contributed to that harassment."
John Gibson, acting for Mr Fareham, said: "He believed he had a good working relationship and these allegations against him were like a bolt out of the blue."
Mr Fareham denies the allegations of bullying and harassment and that he breached the code of conduct. The hearing continues today.
Panel rules remarks were not meant to offend
NO ACTION is to be taken against Councillor John Fareham over remarks
he made about lesbians, prostitutes, Polish plumbers and disabled
people at a public meeting.
The Conservative group leader at Hull
City Council was found to have breached the councillors' code of
conduct in making the comments at a Wyke area housing board last year.
A three-man standards committee panel accepted they were meant to be
jokes and said there was no intention to offend anyone.
frowned on his use of the word "cripple" and ruled his remarks had
broken equalities legislation and had brought the council into
The Bricknell ward councillor denied breaching the
code but said he had taken steps to change his behaviour at council
Panel chairman John McGorrigan said the politician's
remorse over the issue was a factor in deciding not to take action