Bullying report uses subjective definitions

The Report into Cultural Issues related to allegations of Bullying and Harassment in NHS Highland has been published and confirms that the whistleblowers have publicised legitimate concerns about bullying in NHS Highland.

The Scottish Secretary for Health Jeane Freeman MSP apologised to those affected and said that the other health boards should learn lessons from it.

The author John Sturrock, QC, discussed the definition of bullying, harassment and culture in his 176 page report.

While not finding it necessary to distinguish between bullying and harassment (para. 10.5) for practical purposes Sturrock adopts the subjective definitions in current use, while helpfully drawing attention to Sir Robert Francis’ report Freedom to Speak up which gives a number of examples of bullying or harassment offered by ACAS (para. 10.8). It is noteworthy that all these examples are purely objective. Sturrock quotes Francis’ discussion of the subjective and objective aspects of this topic (para. 10.10).

It is good that notice is being paid to the folly of subjective definitions. The Scottish Christian Party has drawn attention to this for over a decade. It gained currency with the Macpherson Report. Its folly began to surface in the antisemitism debate in the Labour Party, but has not yet been resolved. It continues in the academic no platforming debate.

Subjectivism is running wild with gender self-identification and there is an urgent need to re-establish objective definitions in our English language, law, politics and public discourse.

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