Orkopoulos staffer sues over sex MP

THE Swansea woman whose public service career ended after she blew the whistle on child-sex offender, politician Milton Orkopoulos, is suing the NSW government for unspecified damages in a Supreme Court action launched this week.

In a statement of claim filed on Wednesday, Gillian Sneddon, who worked for Orkopoulos, alleged she suffered bullying, harassment and victimisation from him and other government employees for nearly a year after first raising a child-sex allegation with Orkopoulos on behalf of one of his victims.

Her job was terminated on February 22, 2008, the day she gave evidence in the trial of Orkopoulos, a former NSW government minister and Swansea MP who was jailed for 13 years and eight months for child sex and drugs offences.

Ms Sneddon, right, alleged she was verbally abused by Orkopoulos over another matter at a Labor Party branch meeting one month after she was first interviewed by police about child-sex allegations, and after Orkopoulos was also interviewed by police.

In her statement of claim, Ms Sneddon alleged that on September 11, 2006 - two months before Orkopoulos was charged - she advised Parliament employee services manager Michael Saunders that police wanted statements about Orkopoulos, and she could no longer cope with the stress at work.

She alleged she took a call later that day from Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Russell Grove, who allegedly requested to be put through to Orkopoulos.

She alleged she became "very frightened" after the call and cancelled an appointment with a parliamentary counsellor as she "could no longer trust Parliament".

The sense that she was "ostracised, stigmatised and regarded as a traitor" intensified in October 2006, when she was locked out of the Swansea office on Orkopoulos's orders.

Ms Sneddon alleged Orkopoulos treated her like a traitor from October 2005 until his arrest, and "she was treated by the other electorate officers as if she had betrayed" him.

When a young man on work experience told Ms Sneddon he believed Orkopoulos was "grooming" him, Ms Sneddon alleged another electorate officer put her hands over her ears and said: "Don't tell me anything about my boss. I don't want to hear anything about my boss."

Ms Sneddon is suing the Speaker of the NSW Parliament, the state of NSW and Orkopoulos for negligence, alleging the victimisation and bullying were assaults on her that the government knew, or should have known, were occurring.

She alleged the government failed to take adequate precautions for her safety; failed to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and failed to take adequate action to protect her "in circumstances where [Orkopoulos] knew that he had committed serious criminal offences".

She alleged it also failed to appreciate that locking her out of her Swansea electorate office workplace on October 4, 2006, would aggravate her injury.

Orkopoulos was advised of the negligence claim where he is jailed at Lithgow Correctional Centre.

The state of NSW has until September 2 to file its defence and statements indicating any parts of Ms Sneddon's evidentiary statement that are in dispute.

The matter will return to the NSW Supreme Court in late October for a hearing this year or early next year.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop