Forensic expert wins £91k payout after boss brought up her sexuality

Gay forensic expert who advised on BBC’s Silent Witness wins £91,540 payout after quitting her job when her boss brought up her sexuality

  • Joanne Millington joined Manlove Forensics Limited in 2012 as a senior biologist
  • Joe Arend became the owner as the company was renamed ArroGen Forensics 
  • He asked Ms Millington whether she had a problem with him ‘because of her sexuality’, pointing out that he was ‘big’ and ‘used to play rugby’
  • She was left ‘very distressed’ by the meeting and resigned shortly afterwards 

A forensic expert who advised on the BBC’s Silent Witness and quit her job after her boss raised a question about her sexuality has won £91,540. 

Joanne Millington, who has been called as an expert witness in many high-profile court cases and is a visiting lecturer in several universities, joined Manlove Forensics Limited in 2012 as a senior biologist.   

Joe Arend, who became the owner as the company was renamed ArroGen Forensics Limited in 2015, had brought up Ms Millington’s sexuality at a meeting when she said she wanted to spend more time with her wife.  

An employment tribunal in Reading, Berkshire was told that Mr Arend asked whether she had a problem with him ‘because of her sexuality’, pointing out he was ‘big’ and ‘used to play rugby’.

Ms Millington, who appeared in BBC’s 2018 true crime documentary ‘Conviction: Murder in Suburbia’ examining the conviction of Glyn Razzell for the death of his wife Linda in 2002, was left ‘upset and embarrassed’ when Mr Arend confronted her.

She was left ‘very distressed’ by the meeting and resigned shortly afterwards, the tribunal heard, and the panel found the company liable for sexual orientation discrimination, constructive dismissal and breach of contract.

Ms Millington has now been awarded £91,540 in compensation, including £20,637 for injury to feelings.  

The tribunal found the discrimination ‘impacted on her health and her career… (and) also impacted on her private life.’  

Jo Millington, once part of the Met Police’s murder team and a star of a recent BBC documentary, was ‘upset and embarrassed’ when Joe Arend confronted her and brought up her sexuality

The tribunal heard that Ms Millington – a blood pattern specialist who has worked for police forces across Britain in the past 25 years – started working for Oxfordshire -based ArroGen Forensics in 2012 as Lead Forensic Scientist.  

In 2017, at her and another’s scientist’s suggestion, the company launched a new venture in partnership with the University of Surrey specialising in veterinary forensics.

Ms Millington was named Scientific Director, but a few months after launch, CEO Mr Arend started to voice unhappiness at how the new firm was doing and began to question Ms Millington’s performance.

In one conversation, the tribunal heard he described her salary and expenses as ‘crazy’ and ‘crackers’.

Ms Millington appeared in BBC’s 2018 true crime documentary ‘Conviction: Murder in Suburbia’ examining the conviction of Glyn Razzell (pictured) for the death of his wife Linda in 2002

Then, after she complained about his behaviour, at a meeting in December of that year the CEO – described by one witness as ‘bad tempered’ and ‘out of control’ – questioned her sexuality.

The panel’s judgment states: ‘At one point in the meeting (Ms Millington) was talking about her work/life balance. She said she did not have enough time to spend with her family and her wife.

‘A little while later, Mr Arend brought up the subject of the claimant’s sexual orientation. He asked her whether she thought he had a problem with her because of her sexuality.

‘He referred to the fact that he is big and used to be a rugby player. (She) found the question about her sexual orientation upsetting and unprofessional.

‘She commented that she did not see the relevance of his question, and moved the discussion on to something else.’

The tribunal noted that Mr Arend admitted he would not have asked about sexual orientation if a woman employee had commented about not having enough time to spend with ‘my family and my husband’.

The panel concluded: ‘Mr Arend’s question to the claimant about whether she thought Mr Arend had a problem with her sexual orientation was followed by a comment referring to stereotypes, when Mr Arend referred to himself being a former rugby player.

‘The question introduced (Ms Millington’s) sexual orientation into the discussion without there being any basis to do so, and…it implied that the claimant’s sexual orientation might be a factor in her decision to make a formal complaint about Mr Arend.

‘Miss Millington regarded her sexual orientation as a private matter (as she was entitled to do), and the question to her about it was upsetting and embarrassing. She would have preferred it not to have been asked.

‘Her reputation and credibility underpin her career.’

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