independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Bullying allegation behind staff row – pathologist

Former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber pictured yesterday

THE former Deputy State Pathologist Dr Khalid Jaber has revealed a bullying allegation made against him is the reason a staff member at Dublin City Mortuary has refused to work with him for the last three years.

Dr Jaber (55) has denied any wrongdoing in the case, claiming the individual who made the complaint was "disgruntled".

The Saudi-born pathologist resigned after a series of disagreements with his former boss, State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy (pictured below).

Dr Jaber has also been unhappy with how the Department of Justice has reacted to rows between him and staff at three mortuaries, dating back to 2010.

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As a result of these disagreements, bodies were no longer brought to Cork University Hospital, Our Lady's Hospital in Navan and Dublin City Mortuary if Dr Jaber was the state pathologist on call.

Despite the rows Dr Jaber last night insisted he has had "excellent relationships with many technicians around the country".

Last night a spokeswoman said the Department had "no comment to make on the matter" when asked about the dispute at Dublin City Mortuary.

She insisted that Dr Jaber's resignation will not prevent the prosecution of criminal cases where medical examinations have been carried out by Dr Jaber in his capacity as Deputy State Pathologist, saying he can still be called as a witness by prosecutors.

She said: "Minister Shatter has full confidence in the State Pathologist Dr Cassidy and all of the staff at the Office of the State Pathologist."

The Irish Independent had sought records relating to the dispute at Dublin City Mortuary under freedom of information laws but Dublin City Council refused the request.

It cited the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and said that "procedures under the dignity at work process are in their nature, highly confidential".

Dr Jaber last night said the Dublin dispute centred around bullying allegations made against him by a staff member.

He said the staff member's complaint had a list of "something like 11 or 12 itemised issues – all to do around the same concept, bullying and harassment".

He claimed the staff member wrote the complaint, "quoting silly examples that I didn't speak to [the staff member]. That I don't say 'hi' – just bizarre things".

According to Dr Jaber: "The Department of Justice unfortunately never took my side. They never wanted to listen to me to explain to them exactly the background."

And he claimed he had to stop post-mortems on two instances because the staff member complained they weren't being paid overtime. He said: "That may be true but the problem with state pathology work is that it can not necessarily be confined to within the working hours of a certain mortuary."

Dr Jaber said he raised the matter with the staff member but said the overtime problem was not among a list of grievances in the complaint letter.

Dr Jaber admitted he did not take part in a reconciliation process because, as he put it: "I haven't done anything wrong." And he maintains he got on "perfectly well" with others at the mortuary.

He said he "objected fiercely" to a report submitted to the Department of Justice by a barrister who investigated the matter and "they (the department) basically upheld the complaint".

Dublin City Council refused to comment on the dispute last night. The Department of Justice did not respond to queries.

Dr Jaber's resignation was ultimately sparked by a disagreement with Prof Cassidy over the circumstances surrounding the death of an alleged homicide victim.

The details of the case cannot be revealed for legal reasons. However, it can be disclosed that Dr Jaber was deeply unhappy with the stance taken by Prof Cassidy in relation to the death.

As revealed in Saturday's Irish Independent, Dr Jaber complained to the Director of Public Prosecutions about the disagreement in a strongly worded letter two weeks ago.

He also mentioned it in his resignation letter sent to Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

The Department of Justice has insisted his decision to quit will not prevent the prosecution of criminal cases he was involved in. However, this has been disputed by Dr Jaber who said after being locked out of his office he no longer had access to his case files, at least six of which have yet to be fully completed. He told the Sunday Independent: "I have absolutely no idea what will happen to these cases now."

Cormac McQuinn

Irish Independent

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