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The former director of the British Council of Rome acquitted: according to the court, his greetings were “Italian style”, not harassment

from Luigi Ippolito

In 2018, an employee accused Paul Sellers of harassing her, which is why he lost his job. But today the London Labor Court agrees with him (and orders compensation)

FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
LONDON – Sexual harassment or Italian Style greetings? A London court acquitted theformer director of the British Council of Rome from the accusation of inappropriate behavior after he explained that it was just typical Italian affection.

Paul Sellers had been kicked out of his post in 2019 following an internal investigation taken after the complaint of a British embassy employee in Italy: according to the woman, the director of the British Council had kissed her on the mouth and touched her breasts at the end of a party in which he appeared quite drunk. When I went to say hello – she testified – she kissed me twice on the corners of my mouth and then stroked my breasts with both hands. The party had taken place in December 2018 in the Roman house of the director, who had taken up the post in 2014 at the end of a thirty-year career that had seen him hold positions of responsibility from India to the Arab Emirates.

The The London Labor Court, to which Sellers turned, did not believe the woman’s version and agreed with the director, who will now also be entitled to compensation. Several people had witnessed the alleged incident, including Sellers’ wife and children: and the wife testified in defense of her husband, explaining that the alleged victim of the harassment was new and had not fully integrated into the embassy, ​​but above all that had a conservative attitude towards the Italian style of greetings.

Another witness who was present at the incident described the incident as a kiss on both cheeks followed by a hug, stating that it was friendly and clear: The interaction took place in direct proximity under the eyes of several other guests, including two of Paul’s sons: none seemed to record anything remotely unusual. But clearly it did not appear to the embassy clerk: and it could really have been a clash of cultures. Although it must be said that now in London, the days when you hardly shook hands saying “How do you do?”: now everything hugs and kisses and not even Covid has discouraged the effusions to which the British abandon themselves with the enthusiasm of neophytes.

The London court has in conclusion blamed the internal investigation conducted by the British Council, stating that it stuck to a narrow view, without exploring the circumstances and interviewing witnesses. The British cultural body, on the other hand, said it was disappointed with the decision.

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