Follett Stock settles ‘stay single’ sexual harassment dispute

Cornish-headquartered Follett Stock has agreed a settlement with solicitor Kate Baker, who accused managing partner Chris Lingard of bullying her while she worked at the firm.

Chris Lingard
Chris Lingard

In January it emerged that Lingard was alleged to have sacked Baker from the firm after she started a relationship. Baker filed claims of sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and unfair dismissal against the firm (10 January 2013).

The case was due to progress to a full tribunal in Exeter this week but is understood to have settled.

A statement to the tribunal in January by Baker described an atmosphere of bullying at the firm. She claimed Lingard regularly criticised staff for taking lunch, looking miserable, for the radio not being switched on and for leaving work at 5pm, The Times said today.

In her January statement to Exeter tribunal judge Christopher Carstairs, Baker, who was based in the firm’s Truro office, said: “Mr Lingard on many occasions told me that he did not want me in a relationship or to have babies.”

Baker also claimed that Lingard’s wife Fiona Higgins, the business director at Follett Stock, had sent her a text message confirming that her husband wanted her to remain single.

Follett Stock initally asked its own employment solicitor, Guy Hollebon, to defend the case, but in the last few weeks had turned to Beam Law lawyer Jill Andrew. Baker, meanwhile, instructed Stephens Scown partner Terry Falcao and barrister James Bax of Rougemont Chambers.

A joint statement from both parties today (27 August) confirmed that they had reached a settlement.

In January Follett Stock denied all the allegations raised by Baker, telling The Lawyer: “Kate Baker was dismissed for gross incompetence and inappropriate email correspondence. She raised no complaint before her dismissal. 

“Anyone who knows Follett Stock and our managing partner will recognise her attempted characterisation of our culture and of Chris Lingard as a grotesque distortion of reality.

“Chris is very conscious of discrimination, being severely disabled himself. This makes Ms Baker’s decision to base her allegations on supposed discrimination particularly disappointing.

“Of course we deny her allegations, some of which are frankly laughable.”