A doctor and former diplomat grabbed a female colleague from behind and thrust himself towards her before exposing himself and suggesting she performed a sex act, a tribunal heard. Dr Chukwuma Igbokwe, 46, also asked the woman for sex on his desk, it has been claimed.
The former Consul to the UK of the Republic of Niger is accused of bullying and harassing his junior colleague in his role as director of St Luke’s Healthcare group. Vanessa Turley, 42, was allegedly subjected to an ‘onslaught of sexual innuendo’ and verbal abuse when she worked with Igbokwe at a private hospital in Ebbw Vale, south Wales, between March 2008 and July 2010.
She told the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service how she quit her job and took legal action to stop Igbokwe when she realised she may not be his only victim.
‘It was just never ending with him,’ she said giving evidence.
‘I thought he’s got to stop this. People came to me and said it was happening to them.
‘I thought “when is this guy going to stop”.
‘The only person who had enough evidence to go forward was myself.’
Referred to as ‘Mrs A’ during the current proceedings, she told the panel she felt the police did not take her seriously when she complained, but was vindicated when she won an employment tribunal against her former bosses last year.
She said: ‘It was never about the money. It was about proving to people what he was like as a person and what he put me through.’
She added: ‘I was trying to stop him doing it to other females because in my eyes he had no respect at all no matter what your position in the company. It was a conquest.’
Igbokwe was not present or represented at a fitness to practise hearing in Manchester where he could be struck off the medical register if the string of misconduct allegations against him are proved.
One of the charges relates to a ‘Mayor’s ball’ held in his honour in his role as Niger’s Consul to the UK in November 2009 when he made a sexual innuendo towards her.
After the incident he then quizzed her in the tea room at St Luke’s about why she had told people what he had said, the hearing was told.
On another occasion, on April 9, 2010, Igbokwe is said to have called her into his office and held her hips from behind.
He then thrust himself against her, told her to sit down, exposed his privates and gestured to her to perform a sex act.
‘He touched me on a previous occasion, but the actual grabbing was the same time when he exposed himself and actually grabbed me from behind,’ said Mrs Turley.
She said he was aggressive and rude to her, asking her to bring him dinner or make his tea.
But it was in June 2008 that he is alleged to have called her into his office and said: ‘Because I want to f*** you over my desk.’
Mrs Turley told the panel: ‘I’m from a deprived working area and I was devastated.
‘Most nights coming home and on Sundays not wanting to face the next day.
‘The harassment started back up again because he was thinking I was going to say something and made my life and working environment unbearable to try to make me finish on my own.
‘But when I didn’t report it he started up an onslaught of sexual innuendo and text messages again because he got away with it the first time.’
The panel heard Igbokwe would ‘make eyes’ at her when they were working in the same room and ask her to meet at local hotels.
Even when she had left her job and was pursuing legal action against Igbokwe she claims the harassment didn’t stop.
She received pornographic emails, which were sometimes opened by her husband and children, and was told by friends they had seen a suspicious silver Mercedes following her.
‘It was just unreal, my life. I’m trying to start to get it back together, but it’s still there. I just want to shut the book on it,’ she said.
‘I feel I have moved on a lot, but to talk about it, when I go into any detail and depth I get upset because I think was there anything that I did,’ she added.
‘I am a lot stronger person now for what I have done.’
The hearing continues.