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Stalking' teacher, 62, claims unfair dismissal

PUBLISHED: 16:43 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 09:49 12 August 2010

A 62-YEAR-OLD teacher who was fired for allegedly stalking her male colleague is seeking compensation claiming unfair dismissal. Helen Vipond is said to have become obsessed with a male colleague at Darrick Wood School, Orpington, and stalked him for so

A 62-YEAR-OLD teacher who was fired for allegedly stalking her male colleague is seeking compensation claiming unfair dismissal.

Helen Vipond is said to have become obsessed with a male colleague at Darrick Wood School, Orpington, and stalked him for so long that he called the police, an employment tribunal heard last Friday.

The former head of cover at the school, in Lovibonds Avenue, constantly visited German teacher Jamie Meharg's classroom, found his home address on the electoral roll and sent him long, passionate letters, an employment tribunal heard.

In one, the religious studies teacher is said to have written: "There is nothing in the world that would be much more pure than being in a full relationship with you."

She also allegedly sent him a Valentine's Day card which told how she would "not wash her face" if she received a birthday kiss from him.

Mr Meharg, 42, eventually called the authorities and showed them the "whole sequence" of suggestive notes and letters spanning two years. He was subsequently given police protection.

Mrs Vipond was brought before a school disciplinary hearing last October and fired for "gross misconduct".

But she is now seeking compensation from the school claiming unfair dismissal.

Giving evidence at Ashford Employment Tribunal, the school's chairman of the board of governors said the police were called after Mrs Vipond ignored a formal complaint from Mr Meharg.

Michael Hewitt said: "We were very clear that the actions towards him constituted very serious harassment - she obtained his address from the electoral roll. In our judgement that was serious misconduct."

The tribunal heard how Mrs Vipond exhibited "strange" behaviour, following members of staff into the toilets, having "telepathic conversations" and randomly "moving peoples' bags".

But the divorced mother-of-three claims that the staff ganged up on her.

She claimed Mr Meharg sent her 'hundreds' of messages after she joined the school and alleges that her advances to Mr Meharg were wanted and claimed it was a two-way relationship.

Mrs Vipond - who was due to retire - also claims she was the victim of age discrimination.

Giving evidence at the hearing, Mrs Vipond, from Farnborough, said: "On my 61st birthday he sent me a text saying that for him I was only 49. He gave me a piece of cake and a birthday kiss.

"His manner of approaching me was like that of a lovesick teenager."

She said he had bought her Fairtrade chocolates and given her a friendship ring as a token of his affection.

She claimed that "love blossomed" between them, adding: "I became increasingly aware that Jamie Meharg, through his body language, entertained some feelings for me."

Mrs Vipond denied sexually harassing her colleague or bombarding him with love letters and notes at his home and at school.

The tribunal continues.

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