‘Sex pest’ manager denies spank claims

Angelina Ashby arrives at her tribunal in Sheffield. Photo: John Giles/PA Wire.

Angelina Ashby arrives at her tribunal in Sheffield. Photo: John Giles/PA Wire.

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A SALES manager appeared at a Sheffield employment tribunal to face accusations of spanking a female staff member, encouraging women to grab his genitals and looking at pornography at work.

Peter Smith, aged 51, group sales director at Chesterfield marine supply firm Cathelco, is accused of bullying and ostracising former colleague Angelina Ashby.

Miss Ashby, 41, of Devizes Close, Chesterfield, is claiming constructive dismissal, sexual discrimination and pay discrimination against the firm, which she describes as being run with a ‘boys’ club atmosphere’.

Mr Smith simply replied ‘no’ to a list of allegations read to him by Cathelco barrister Barry Warne.

Sales executive Miss Ashby, who resigned from the firm in October 2008, says she was never sexually harassed by Mr Smith, but claims he would regularly persuade other women to grab his genitals, would get them to sit on his lap while he stroked their hair and on one occasion chased an administrator around the office before laying her across his knee and spanking her.

Colleague Alina Taylor, who had a 10-month affair with Mr Smith and has since left the firm, accused him of watching pornography at work and using interview candidates’ looks and bra size as a criteria for employment.

Mr Smith, of Shirland Street, Chesterfield, denied each of the allegations.

He told the tribunal: “These two women are very similar. They are aggressive, selfish, determined, focused and are not team players.”

He added: “I would say at interviews, ‘Her face doesn’t fit’. It’s not about whether they were pretty or not.

“It’s about whether they would fit with the culture of the company.”

Cathelco managing director Justin Salisbury said in 20 years of business he had ‘only had problems with women’ and had never heard about Mr Smith’s alleged actions.

Miss Ashby’s barrister Jason Searle said: “Peter Smith was known as a sex pest in the work place - you would have known about that.”

Mr Salisbury replied: “If I did I don’t think he would have been working for me.”

The tribunal heard Mr Salisbury once emailed a receptionist who was off sick to ‘either come to work or **** off’. He then forwarded the message to colleagues and said: “That will show her.”

Mr Searle said: “This is how you ruled the company, with this kind of filth and abusive language. It’s old-school, 1970s, Sid James-type management.”

The hearing continues.