Former head of British Council in Italy sues over claims he drunkenly groped an embassy employee’s breasts throughout a celebration at his home in Rome
- Paul Sellers stepped down as director after inside investigation launched
- Lady claimed that he kissed and groped her at occasion at his home in Rome
- Sellers sued the International Secretary and the British Council over claims in emails
- The emails detailed the girl’s sexual harassment criticism towards Sellers
The previous head of the British Council in Italy has sued over claims that he drunkenly groped an embassy employee.
Paul Sellers stepped down as council director after an inside investigation was launched over claims that he kissed a girl and rubbed his arms over her breasts.
The incident allegedly passed off throughout a celebration hosted by Mr Sellers and his artwork historian spouse, Isadora, at their dwelling in Rome in December 2018.
The allegations grew to become public after Mr Sellers took Excessive Courtroom motion towards International Secretary Dominic Raab and the British Council over an e-mail from a senior diplomat which detailed the girl’s criticism.
Paul Sellers (pictured) stepped down as council director after an inside investigation was launched over claims that he kissed a girl and rubbed his arms over her breasts at a celebration at his dwelling in December 2018
Mr Sellers labored for 22 years on the British Council, together with posts in India and the United Arab Emirates, earlier than taking the helm in Italy in 2014.
The Authorities-backed council promotes British tradition world wide by dispatching the nation’s nice artists and teachers to offer ‘smooth energy.’
Mr Sellers sued over an e-mail despatched by Ken O’Flaherty, the embassy’s deputy head of mission, to the council’s HR director who was main the probe into the alleged misconduct.
The e-mail described how the alleged sufferer, somebody who was working on the British Embassy in Rome and recognized solely as ZZ, claimed that she was sexually harassed whereas getting ready to go away the occasion at round 4.30pm on December 16, 2018.
Mr O’Flaherty wrote: ‘When saying goodbye to Paul, he leaned in and kissed [ZZ] on the sting of her lips. He positioned his arms on her chest and rubbed them down over her breasts in a method that was fairly deliberate. [ZZ] was very shocked by this. She felt violated and instantly wished to get out of the home. She duly left.’
The lady claimed she was unable to sleep that night time and complained to Jill Morris, the ambassador, the next day.
She proceeded together with her criticism regardless of fears that she would possibly grow to be ‘the topic of gossip’ and the potential ‘skilled penalties’ which could observe.
Mr O’Flaherty added: ‘[ZZ] judges that Paul was “fairly drunk”. He had beforehand [been] salsa dancing with a feminine intern and stated proudly “I do not drink espresso” when it was supplied.
‘Paul commonly drinks at social skilled occasions. I’ve not seen him incapacitated, however does present the impact of alcohol and consumed greater than many colleagues.
‘Paul Sellers has proven erratic and uncharacteristically emotional behaviour in his interactions with embassy employees in current months. This has made HMA [Ms Morris] wonder if there could be different points in play.’
The lady stated that she didn’t know Mr Sellers very nicely and was extra acquainted with his spouse Isadora, who had labored on the embassy till that December.
The British Council in Rome and their roof backyard. The Authorities-backed council promotes British tradition world wide by dispatching the nation’s nice artists and is an instance of ‘smooth energy.’
Mr Sellers’ attorneys argued that the e-mail urged there have been ‘robust’ grounds to suspect him of sexual assault.
Mr Justice Saini dismissed that argument, stating that the officers who obtained it ‘would have been totally conscious that Mr O’Flaherty was merely passing on a abstract of a criticism made by a 3rd individual, a couple of matter which he had no direct information of.’
The decide dominated that the ‘abnormal which means’ of the e-mail is that there ‘are affordable grounds to suspect that when [ZZ] was saying goodbye to the claimant … the claimant, inebriated, inappropriately kissed [ZZ] on the sting of her lips and intentionally rubbed his arms over her breasts in a sexual method.’
He discovered that two additional emails despatched by Mr O’Flaherty and Rebecca Walton, the council’s Europe director, saying Mr Sellers was leaving his submit, weren’t defamatory.
The declare for damages over Mr O’Flaherty’s first e-mail is ongoing.