A chef accused of harassing a colleague at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital has denied being involved in any racist conduct towards him.
Wayne Gibbs, 38, of Queen Mary Road, Gaywood, is one of four men on trial at Norwich Crown Court, who prosecutors claim were part of a “culture of bullying” against a fellow worker in the hospital’s kitchens.
Giving evidence at the start of his defence case today, Gibbs described his former colleague’s work as “methodical and slow” and admitted he had been frustrated by him repeatedly asking questions about working practices.
But he insisted that he had not taken part in any racist activity towards him, or being present when any racist activity took place.
He said he had asked about the man’s Zulu heritage after reading a headline about him in the hospital’s staff magazine, Viewpoint, but maintained he had not used the phrase “Zulu warrior” in relation to him.
He also described an incident in which the two men had taken part in a pretend “sword fight” using whisks.
However, prosecuting barrister Lynne Shirley said that, while the complainant was a “new boy” in the kitchen, Gibbs and his co-accused had worked together for many years.
She told him: “I’m going to suggest to you there was a culture, and you were part of this, that, for whatever reason, took exception to him and there was a consistent culture of bullying.”
Gibbs repeatedly replied: “No.”
However, he later accepted he may not have heard incidents taking place in the kitchen.
Under questioning from his own barrister, Yousif Elagab, Gibbs said there had been no disciplinary cases lodged against him in the 15 years he had worked at the hospital prior to his arrest and suspension.
The court was also told he would still be under suspension, on full pay, had he had not taken up a new role as head chef at the Freebridge Farm pub in West Lynn.
And Gibbs told the court that no complaints had been made about his conduct since he began working there.
Earlier in the day, the alleged victim admitted he had lied when he told the jury of six women and six men that his work at the hospital was his sole employment.
In fact, he had held a full-time job at the Wingland Foods premises in Sutton Bridge since 2002 and was working there alongside his work at the QEH.
He insisted he had told hospital bosses of his other job when he was interviewed.
And he claimed he had not disclosed the issue previously, because he had been repeatedly followed on his route to the factory over several months.
He claimed he had spoken to a colleague at Wingland about the issue, but had not raised the issue with police.
And, while under cross-examination, he was unable to give details of the make, model or colour of the vehicle involved.
Jacob Edwards, representing another of the defendants, Richard Lovell, claimed: “This has nothing to do with concerns of being followed.
“You didn’t want anyone to know you were working two jobs without permission.”
The man answered: “That’s not correct.”
Gibbs, Lovell, 46, of Garwood Close, Gaywood; William Clunan, 58, of Reffley Lane, Gaywood and Allyn Witham, 62, of Langridge Circle, Watlington have all pleaded not guilty to a single charge of harassment, the use of racist language, jokes and intimidating behaviour.
The trial continues.