Christian health worker Victoria Wasteney has told the BBC that she was made to look ‘crazy’, and accused of ‘grooming’, after she was disciplined by the NHS for helping a Muslim colleague.
Ms Wasteney, 37, was accused of religious harassment and of attempting to force a Muslim colleague into Christianity — an accusation which saw her suspended and investigated, in June 2013, for gross misconduct. Her suspension lasted for nine months before a hearing found her behaviour constituted bullying and harassment. She was given a final written warning, ‘boundary training’ and monthly supervision, upon which she took her employer, the East London Foundation NHS Trust, to a tribunal, where she argued that the disciplinary action was due to religious discrimination. However, she lost her case.
Ms Wasteney, a senior occupational therapist, told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire that she was surprised by the allegations, as she thought she and her colleague had become friends over 18 months. ‘I obviously felt as though I’d been painted as a bit crazy and someone who bullies someone and someone who harasses someone and who goes out of their way to manipulate and groom someone, which is far from the truth’. According to the BBC, her colleague had written an eight-page letter of complaint containing allegations that Ms Wasteney was trying to convert her, by routinely asking her to pray and giving her a book about a Muslim woman converting to Christianity. She also alleged an incident when Ms Wasteney put her hand on her knee in a prayer that lasted for 10 minutes, asking God to come to her. The colleague said she felt like she was being groomed.
Ms Wasteney is now appealing against this judgement, with support from Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre (CLC).