Four chefs have this afternoon been cleared of harassing a colleague at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital..
William Clunan, 58, of Reffley Lane, Gaywood; Wayne Gibbs, 38, of Queen Mary Road, Gaywood; Richard Lovell, 46 of Garwood Close, Gaywood and Allyn Witham, 62 of Langridge Circle, Watlington, had all denied prosecution claims that they were part of a “culture of bullying” against a fellow chef at the Gayton Road site.
And a jury at Norwich Crown Court took just over an hour to find each of them not guilty of a single charge of harassment, including the use of racist language, jokes and intimidating behaviour.
During the trial, jurors have heard allegations that the four had repeatedly engaged in racist jokes and comments against the man, as well as intimidating and threatening him.
But, summing up the evidence this morning, judge Stephen Holt told the jury they would have to weigh up those allegations against the defendants’ version of events and the lack of witnesses to support the alleged victim’s claims.
He asked: “Is this a closing of the ranks or is it, as the defence says, that none of it is true?”
Earlier, in his closing speech, defence barrister Charles Kellett, representing Witham, said his client had acknowledged that some of his remarks were examples of “mis-speaking.”
But, highlighting his family’s own mixed heritage he insisted that his conduct had not been born out of hostility towards his colleague.
Mr Kellett also reminded the jury that the complainant had lied about his employment at the Wingland Foods factory in Sutton Bridge, where he continued to work while employed at the hospital.
He told them: “He is not someone on whom you can rely. He is not someone who is credible. His credibility is shot to pieces.”
However, in his remarks, Judge Holt also outlined the alleged victim’s claim that he had been repeatedly followed on his way to the Wingland site.
He added that the prosecution maintained the Wingland issue was not relevant to the case.
Following the verdict, hospital officials said their own disciplinary procedures relating to the case would now resume.
A spokesman said a short time ago: “The allegations made in this case were acted on at the earliest opportunity.
“While the police investigation and subsequent court case were underway our internal HR procedures were put on hold pending the outcome.
“These procedures will now be concluded as soon as possible.
“As a result we are unable to comment further at this point.”