Scientist at UK's largest health trust told female colleague he only hired her 'because of her looks', tribunal hears

Yohannes Lowe
Paul Grist leaving the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service tribunal - Evening Standard / eyevine

A senior biomedical scientist at the UK's largest health trust “sexually bullied” a female colleague who he said was only hired because of “her looks”, a tribunal has heard.

Paul Grist is accused of making a series of lewd comments to the woman, referred to as Colleague A, while working in the blood transfusions and haematology department of Barts Health Trust in Whitechapel, East London.

Mr Grist, who supervised almost 90 people in the laboratory, allegedly told her she was only hired because she was good-looking and had showed her legs during a job interview in January 2016.

He described Colleague A as a “belly dancer” during a group feedback exercise and referred to her as a “sexy librarian” on another occasion, it is claimed. 

Mr Grist, who now faces misconduct charges, is also accused of telling another female colleague to “wear something short and tight”  for her job interview. 

Giving evidence to the Health and Care Professions Tribunal Service today, Colleague A claimed that he had marked the date of her period on a calendar and pointed it out to her when she was “being grumpy” .

Speaking via video link, she told the tribunal: “Other female colleagues told me he had a habit of making women cry.” “He marked my time of the month on his calendar... it was embarrassing,”  she added.

The Royal London and Barts sits behind the historic front block overlooking the Whitechapel Credit: Mike Kemp

Wendy Hewitt, representing Mr Grist, suggested that Colleague A had misconstrued the jokes, pointing to friendly out-of-hours text messages she exchanged with her boss after some of the alleged incidents had occurred.

Mrs Hewitt questioned why she had bought him a birthday present, despite claiming Mr Grist had been “mercilessly sexually bullying” her. “You left him a bottle of wine. Why would you do that?,”  she said.

The woman replied that she had just been “trying to create a positive environment” .

Dr Tom Butler, a consultant in the department, explained how Mr Grist had “adopted an informal style”  of management, which “sometimes worked” but “other times did not”.

Mr Grist, who no longer works for the trust, denies the 17 allegations of making sexually motivated comments.

The tribunal, which is chaired by the Conduct and Competence Committee, will rule if he can still practice as a biomedical scientist. It will come to its decision on Monday.

A spokesperson for Barts Health NHS Trust said: “Mr Grist left the trust in March 2019 after allegations by another member of staff had been thoroughly investigated through our disciplinary procedure.”