30 Years a Virgin | A Mental Health Blog

Table of Contents

Page 1 – Dealing with Mental Health
Page 1 – Allegations of Inappropriate Touching
Page 2 – Behind the Galley Curtain 
Page 2 – Dealing with the Grievance 
Page 2 – Stupidity Ignorance or Both? 
Page 3 – How Not to Deal with Mental Health
Page 4 – Ex Police Officer now Cabin Crew 

Mental Health Matters | Part 2

Dealing with Mental Health at Work

Having spent most of my working life as cabin crew for a well known British airline, I was made redundant in 2020 following the outbreak of Covid-19. I was on long term sick at the time because of mental health issues. As soon as redundancies were announced I knew my cards were marked.

During my 30 years with the airline I had a clean performance record, worked hard and was passionate about delivering exceptional standards of customer service. I loved going to work and carried out my role to the highest standard.

In later years as an on-board manager I worked closely with my team of cabin crew to gain trust and respect. I ensured procedures were followed and tried to create a happy working environment.

Mental health matters especially in the workplace and it’s been something I’ve always been very aware of. As well as having to deal with difficult issues in my own life, I’ve encountered many colleagues over the years who were also dealing with issues relating to their mental health.

One aspect of my role as a flight manager I particularly enjoyed was coaching and developing. During my twenty five years as an on-board manager I wrote and delivered hundreds of performance appraisals.

In 2003 a couple of years after being promoted to flight manager my partner of the time became gravely ill. I suddenly found myself facing some very difficult decisions.

Flying full time suddenly became very difficult and part time wasn’t an option because it was available primarily to female crew returning from maternity. Having told my manager I was thinking about leaving he approached the company on my behalf and managed to get me part time.

Despite the incredible turmoil of the next five years which had a huge impact on my mental health, I remained loyal and committed to the airline and was rarely off sick.

In performance appraisals written on me by colleagues throughout my time as a purser (now known as cabin service supervisor) and also after being promoted to flight manager, I was described as professional, approachable, hard working and a great on-board manager.

I took a keen interest in my performance and development and spoke with my manager regularly. We had a good relationship, were open and honest with each other and I was repeatedly told I was a high performing member of his team.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and am by nature thoughtful, kind and considerate. I always put others before me. As a flight manager I understood the importance of rewarding outstanding performance but also felt it was important to highlight areas where there was room for improvement. This was something we were encouraged to do.

For Christmas 2018 I was due to operate a flight to Seattle. It had a long layover and I didn’t want to be away from home for so long. My dad had recently become very frail and was in the last stages of his life. I managed to swap my flight for a shorter trip to Atlanta. It was a decision I would live to regret.

What happened in the weeks and months that followed is difficult to comprehend. What took place had a catastrophic effect on my mental health. Three years later and I’m still struggling to come to terms with having been bullied out of my job by a senior manager who was after revenge.

I had considered leaving many times over the years but loved my job, believed I did it well and was never quite ready or brave enough to call it a day.

The airline I worked for claims to take mental health matters seriously but my blog will show otherwise. They boast about doing everything possible to support anyone who may be struggling.


Writing my blog has been cathartic and gone some way to helping me process what took place. At the time this all began I had only been back at work for ten months after being off for almost two years with issues relating to my mental health.

What I was put through by several cabin crew managers and the Head of Cabin Crew defies belief. This is a company who claims to do everything possible to support the mental health of their employees.

All cabin crew managers who I dealt with were fully aware of my situation. They were also aware that I was crumbling under the pressure of having to deal with a fictitious grievance. It didn’t made the slightest bit of difference.

Unknown to me at the time, this was a witch-hunt that came about because of an encounter I’d had with the Head of Cabin Crew some years earlier. She was after revenge and was prepared to go to whatever lengths necessary to achieve it.

Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 flying in a pure blue sky
Boeing 747-400

Allegations of Inappropriate Touching

During a flight to Cape Town not too many years ago I was asked to speak with a customer sitting in the front row of the Premium cabin.

Premium is superior to Economy but not quite Upper Class.

Since take-off she had been asking to be upgraded because her husband couldn’t get comfortable. I had seen him board using a walking stick, he had a spinal issue which prevented him from being able to stand upright.

After introducing myself she told me she wanted to be upgraded to Upper Class so her husband could use the bed.  Having explained I didn’t have the authority to do that she said they had been upgraded many times by the flight manager. She told me as a gold club flying member they were entitled to an upgrade.

I explained that wasn’t company policy and although we do everything possible to look after gold club customers, as a flight manager I wasn’t authorised to upgrade them.

She told me they had flown out to Cape Town in Upper Class but were disappointed with the seat so changed their return flight to Premium.  It was the first time they had travelled in this cabin and found the seat to be extremely uncomfortable.

Despite trying to help as much as I could she only wanted her husband to be upgraded. It’s important to mention that at this time, the company strictly prohibited us from upgrading customers to Upper Class.

As her voice became louder she suddenly blurted out “you have no idea what it’s like to live with someone who’s disabled”.

I empathised and said I really did understand how difficult it can be and explained that I’d been a carer for many years for my partner who had been very ill. Her response was to say “he probably had AIDS”.

During my thirty years with the airline I encountered my fair share of rude and unpleasant people but this affluent and well-spoken woman was the most vile of them all.

Her comment resonated because my ex partner did have AIDS. Those years were some of the most difficult and traumatic of my life.

Flying as cabin crew is a job unlike any other. During my time with the airline I met some amazing people and had some truly incredible experiences.

I always felt proud to be in uniform and did everything I could to make every customer’s journey special. I enjoy making people happy and am passionate about delivering great customer service.

I can hardly remember a day when I didn’t feel excited about going to work.

A group of Virgin Atlantic cabin crew in a hotel lobby
Vancouver 2012 (taken with an old iphone)

I was often asked by friends and even my family how long I intended to keep flying.  It was a strange question because it was my job and one that I loved yet it was not looked upon as being a career.

I had always planned on hanging up my wings at 55 but in 2016 a year before my 50th birthday was on long term sick with issues relating to my mental health. I never believed I’d fly again.

Incredibly I did manage to return to work in March 2018. Although I was no longer the person I once was, being back doing the job I loved brought me a great deal of comfort and happiness.

Flying was an escape from reality which enabled me to block out what I was dealing with at home. I worked hard and tried to set an example for others to follow.

I have always been a bit of a joker and love to make people laugh. Although I expected my crew to work hard, I tried to create a fun and relaxed working environment.

On 24th December 2018 I operated the flight to Atlanta that I’d swapped on to. During the eighteen months that followed what I was put through by the company led to me contemplating suicide on several occasions.

On that fateful day I checked in for my flight with five of the most vile and despicable people you could ever wish to meet. One of those people was an ex serving police officer and his now ex fiancee.

My alleged conduct during the flight and whilst on the layover in Atlanta led to a complaint for bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching from a relatively new crew member. He had been with the airline for eleven months so was still in probation.

Prior to joining the company he had been a serving police officer for eight years. His fiancée was also on the flight as cabin crew although I was unaware of their relationship at the time. She was also ex police although I don’t in what capacity. She was good friends with two other cabin crew who were also part of the crew.

Considering the seriousness of this crew member’s allegations he said nothing to any other member of crew either during the flight or whilst in Atlanta. Even after landing back home he didn’t speak to his manager to raise concerns about my alleged behaviour.

As an ex serving police officer he would have understood the importance of reporting such behaviour to a colleague or to his manager. It’s also likely that had such behaviour taken place, he would have discussed it directly with me.

I’m going to refer to this vile creature as Bart.

I had allocated Bart a working position in the Upper Class cabin. Working this section of the aircraft meant he would be working alongside me and four other crew members.

I found him to be aloof and unfriendly from the second we met which is really unusual for cabin crew. I initially put it down to shyness. It was some time before I discovered the real reason for his behaviour.

When I asked him during the mandatory pre-flight safety briefing whether he’d worked in the Upper Class cabin before, he confirmed he had many times.

What I witnessed on both sectors showed otherwise. I had to address a number of issues with him on both our outbound and inbound flight regarding the way he was delivering the service.

With him still being in probation I felt it was important to write a performance appraisal. Inline with company policy that’s exactly what I should have done.

Having received it he responded with accusations of bullying, harassment and overbearing supervision. He also accused me of inappropriate touching not only towards him but also towards other members of the crew.

He made twenty two separate complaints about my performance, ability and conduct.

Despite proving unequivocally this ex police officer, his fiancée and four cabin crew with whom they colluded were lying, the allegations were upheld. Very little of what I said was believed by the company.

Crew member Bart is a devious, malicious and calculating individual. His eight years of being a police officer enabled him to manipulate situations that had taken place to make them look very different.

He was aware of the importance of witnesses so also manipulated several crew members in order to turn them against me.

His now ex fiancée was good friends with two other crew members on the flight. Another was best friends with one of those crew members. A fifth crew member was also more than happy to support Bart. The reason for that will become clear later in the blog.

As someone with an impressive memory which his fiancée Anna (not her real name) confirmed in her witness statement, Bart used facts from situations that had taken place and cleverly manipulated them. This made the allegations extremely difficult for me to defend.

The following screenshot comes from her witness statement. She was working at the opposite end of an A340-600 which is a very long aircraft. She only came to the front cabin where Bart and I were working on one occasion and stayed for just a few minutes.

copy of written text
From the witness statement submitted by Anna, Bart’s fiance. “Workplace” by Facebook is a corporate communications platform. FSM = Flight Service Manager which was my rank.

In addition to Bart, three other cabin crew one being Anna also accused me of inappropriate touching. Her witness statement and the one written by crew member Ven (not his real name) are so vile, poisonous and full of hatred that even now I find them incredibly difficult to read.

Dealing with a situation like this at any time in your career would be extremely difficult. I had been back at work for less than ten months after being off for almost two years struggling with mental health issues. These came about primarily as a result of being a full time carer for my dad.

All five witness statements submitted by the crew who supported Bart’s complaint were full of lies and inconsistencies. It was plain to see he’d colluded with them.

The remaining three statements written by the cabin crew who worked alongside Bart and myself in the Upper Class cabin and those written by the Captain and First Officer were honest and told a completely different story.

Despite providing endless amounts of factual evidence to prove these cabin crew were lying, the cabin crew managers dealing with the case and the Head of Cabin Crew who dealt with my appeal refused to believe anything I said.

Four out of the six crew involved in this matter had been with the airline for less than twelve months. The fifth was on his first operating fight back after having been on a ground placement for a year. He had also just been turned down for promotion.

The remaining crew member who was Ven had been with the airline for four years. He had been called for the flight from standby because we needed an additional crew member.

The following screenshot comes from his witness statement. He’s talking about cabin crew member Bart. Anna was Bart’s fiancée at the time not his wife. Ven had never flown with Bart or anyone else on the crew previously.

copy of written text
From the witness statement of crew member Ven

Along with Bart and myself there were four other cabin crew working at the front in the Upper Class cabin. Lottie was the longest serving crew member after me. She had been with the airline for eight years.

Katrina and Claire had only been with the company for a year but both had flown previously. Bruce was the second longest serving crew member. All names throughout my blog have been changed .

Katrina and Claire were best friends who had been at another airline for thirty years. Both had been onboard managers for twenty years before being made redundant.

Almost nothing that was said by Lottie, Katrina and Claire in their witness statements was believed by the company. Bruce failed to return his statement.

Bart’s complaint was submitted three weeks after the flight. It was almost four months before the cabin crew manager dealing with the grievance requested witness statements from other members of the crew.

They were each asked to respond to more than thirty questions about my performance, ability and conduct. The questions she compiled were based on allegations made by Bart.

One question was “please share any observations you have about Laurence and his physical touching towards either yourself or any of the cabin crew throughout the flight.”

I found it incredibly humiliating that such a question was even being asked. No inappropriate touching had taken place yet eleven members of crew were now being asked about my physical touching.

Out of eleven questionnaires which included the captain and first officer, nine were returned.

As part of my defence I asked a doctor of clinical psychology to write to the grievance hearing manager regarding the accusations of inappropriate touching. I had been seeing him for some time because of matters relating to my mental health.

During our sessions we had spoken about something I have struggled with for my entire adult life. I believe it stems from an abusive relationship I was in when I was 18. Without going into more detail than necessary, I find physical contact that could be perceived as being affectionate very difficult.

It’s something I have never spoken openly about to anyone yet was now sharing this intensely private information with my employer for the purpose of clearing my name.

The first screenshot below comes from Bart’s complaint. The second is from the outcome of the appeal heard by Head of Cabin Crew. I’ll refer to her throughout my blog as HoC;

copy of written text
From the complaint submitted by crew member Bart

copy of written text
Outcome of appeal carried out by HoC

I had proven unequivocally in my evidence the three crew members who accused me of inappropriate touching had lied throughout their entire statement. It made no difference.

Nobody had been touched inappropriately at any time during either sector of our flight. The only physical contact I had with another crew member was when I touched Ven’s ankle for a split second whilst playing a joke on him. I’ll talk more about that shortly.

The three crew who worked alongside Bart and I in Upper Class on our flight to and from Atlanta stated they were not aware of any inappropriate touching at any time. In fact out of eleven witness statements, only one crew member claimed she had seen me touch another inappropriately. That was Bart’s fiancée Anna who worked at the opposite end of the aircraft.

The remaining witness statements confirmed nobody else saw me touch anyone inappropriately or was even aware of any such behaviour.

The following comes from Anna’s witness statement. For point of reference I’m five foot seven;

copy of written text
From the witness statement of Bart’s fiancée Anna

The doctor I was seeing is a Consultant Clinical and Counselling Psychologist and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He is a registered Applied Practitioner Psychologist with the Health and Care Professions Council. He’s been in practice for more than thirty years and has the following letters after his name; BA (Hons), MSc Med Psych, DClinPsych, CPsychol, AFBPsS.

HoC joined the airline sixteen years after me in 2006. She moved into her current role as a Senior Manager and Head of Cabin Crew in 2016. The incident took place in 2018. According to her LinkedIn profile she has nine ‘O’ levels including English and Maths and an ‘A’ level in English literature.

I believe HoC was determined for the allegation of inappropriate touching to be upheld. She never expected to receive a letter from a clinical psychologist stating it was unlikely I would touch anyone inappropriately. As such she had no choice but to claim his opinion was not correct. That’s exactly what she stated in the outcome to my appeal.

To put the incident regarding “tickling a crew member’s leg” into perspective, towards the end of our return flight to London I touched Ven’s ankle for a split second whilst he was sitting at the Upper Class bar.

It was witnessed by two other cabin crew. Both had been working alongside me in Upper Class. One was Lottie the other was Katrina. Katrina was sitting next to Ven at the bar, Lottie was standing next to them.

Katrina was working up a rank in the role of cabin supervisor. Prior to joining the airline she had been an on-board manager at another airline for twenty years.

The word “tickled” was used by Ven in his witness statement. I wouldn’t describe touching someone’s leg with your forefinger as tickling.

The following comes from Lottie’s witness statement;

“Towards the end of the flight Laurence was in very high spirits and was laughing and joking with the crew.”

Although crew member Bart was not present, Ven clearly told him about the incident after the flight. I believe that led to him coming up with the idea of accusing me of inappropriate touching. He just needed to convince others to support his story.

After I touched Ven’s leg he didn’t give any indication that he was upset by what had taken place. It was done whilst I was playing a joke on him and the crew and passengers present who witnessed what took place all laughed.

My finger was in contact with his leg (over his sock) for less than two seconds. In her witness statement Katrina states she was totally unaware of me touching anyone inappropriately at any time. She was sat right next to him when the incident took place.

Ven also accused me of squeezing his waist yet in his witness statement says he did not see me touch anyone else inappropriately.

Crew member Mia accused me of touching her leg whilst she was helping out in Upper Class. She also states she did not see me or was aware of me touching anyone else at any time.

As cabin crew you have to make friends quickly. You may fly with someone once and never see them again. Spending ten hours together in a metal tube means there’s plenty of time to chat and to get to know each other. Considering so much touching was allegedly going on, nobody apart from Bart and Anna were aware of it or witnessed it.

Crew members Peter and Mia were best friends. Peter stated in his witness statement that Mia told him I had been “quite physical on a few occasions”.

In her witness statement she says nothing to that effect. What she does allege is that I touched her leg whilst in Upper Class. I’ll cover both points in more detail later in the blog.

In May 2020 when redundancies were announced in response to Covid-19, I was told my job was at risk. I was on long term sick once again with issues relating to my mental health. The reason was purely because of having to deal with this abhorrent complaint. I had been off work since December 2019.

I was made redundant a few months later and subsequently received my P45 in the post. It was the only piece of paper in the envelope.

It had been several months since I had spoken with my new line manager. The last email I received which was from someone in the office I didn’t know, was to invite me to appeal the decision to make me redundant. I declined the offer.

That was how my thirty year career with Virgin Atlantic came to an end.


30 Years a Virgin | The Ugly Truth – Part 4

Table of Contents

The Ugly Truth Part 3

Page 1 – The Ugly Face of Revenge 
Page 2 – The Day That Changed my Life
Page 2 – When It All Becomes Too Much
Page 3 – Shalom Tel Aviv
Page 4 – Great Customer Feedback
Page 5 – Cue Second Disciplinary
Page 6 – Outcome of the Investigation
Page 7 – The Last Page

The Ugly Truth Part 5 (TBA)

The Ugly Face of Revenge

Part 4 of 30 years a Virgin the Ugly Truth is mainly about my first and only encounter with a director of the company. I’m going to refer to him as Jack.

Before getting onto that story I first want to talk about why I believe Head of Cabin Crew senior manager xx who I’ve spoken about extensively previously, was so determined for me to lose my job. I may go off track slightly at times to include other relevant information.

In 2011 senior manager xx and I had an encounter that ended with me reporting her for breach of confidentiality. I believe in 2019 when my name came to her attention in the grievance raised by Bart, she used the opportunity to get back at me.

When a second incident was then reported to her by company director Jack, she probably thought all her Christmases had come at once. She asked for it to be dealt with as a grievance and if upheld, I was to be served with a final written warning. The grievance raised against me by Bart was also being dealt with as a final written warning.

She would have been aware that in line with company policy, I could then lose my job.

copy of a company policy

Quite early on in the first grievance investigation I sensed something wasn’t right. Despite Bart’s complaint being made up entirely of lies, cabin crew manager Lana who conducted the initial investigation didn’t seem overly bothered.

In law, the objective of a grievance is described as being an opportunity to collate balanced evidence from both sides and to be fair and objective. It’s not about proving guilt. The purpose of the investigation is to establish whether there has been a breach of any company policies.

It was clear from the start, this investigation was taking a completely different direction. There was no interest in establishing whether allegations made by Bart were truthful. The company only wanted to prove that my alleged behaviour and actions breached company policy.

The evidence being examined was far from balanced. Every single word I said in my defence was the truth and backed up with hard evidence. Bart lied throughout his entire complaint and the only evidence to support what he said came from crew members with whom he colluded.

Having seen all documentation submitted in relation to the case, I could see he had not even been advised that should it be discovered he had made false or baseless claims he could face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

This ex serving police officer knew exactly what he was doing. He had colluded with several members of the crew one of whom was his fiancee. This made defending myself against the allegations incredibly difficult.

Despite witness statements from the three cabin crew members who worked alongside Bart and I telling a completely different story, the investigating managers and subsequently senior manager xx took little notice of what they said. They did however believe every word that was written by the four or possibly five crew members with whom Bart colluded.

I supplied extensive evidence to prove not only that collusion had taken place, but also that statements made by at least four of the crew were bare faced lies. In the outcome to my appeal senior manager xx stated she could find no evidence of collusion.

Later in my blog when I speak about the investigation in full, you’ll see that collusion between Bart, his now ex fiancee and crew members Ven, Mia and Peter could not have been more obvious. I’ve already spoken in a previous chapter about a claim made by Bart, Anna and Ven that I didn’t enter working positions into my company iPad.

All cabin crew line managers report to senior manager xx. Since publishing the first chapter of my blog I had been told by more than one ex cabin crew manager she’s the driving force behind most if not all grievance investigations.

Following the initial investigation carried out by cabin crew manager Lana, I was told there was a case to answer. The matter was then passed to cabin crew manager Hayley who dealt with the disciplinary. Following her investigation all complaints against me were upheld, including one that had already been dismissed.

I immediately submitted an appeal that was dealt with by senior manager xx. She dismissed two points from Bart’s complaint. One of those had already been dismissed by crew manager Lana but had subsequently been upheld by Hayley. Clearly she had not read Lana’s report properly or at all.

Dismissing these two points made no difference to the overall outcome.

The first point she dismissed can be seen in the following screenshot which comes from the outcome of her investigation. The second I’ll cover in a future chapter.

copy of written correspondence
From outcome of appeal. Written by Senior Manager xx
copy of written correspondence

Regarding the comment “up shit creek without a paddle”, what I actually said can be seen in Bart’s original complaint;

copy of written correspondence
From complaint raised against me by crew member Bart

I have always known the phrase as “up shit creek without a paddle”. Being aware how easy it is to cause offence nowadays, I omitted the word “shit”. In the initial grievance meeting and subsequent correspondence however I referred to the phrase in full as I had always known it. From then on the focus of the complaint became about my inappropriate choice of words.

The following screenshot comes from the outcome of the initial investigation;

copy of written correspondence

It was only whilst preparing documentation for my appeal that I looked back at Bart’s complaint and realised I hadn’t used the word “shit” at all.

Bart’s allegation that my briefing included “a bombardment and tirade of safety questions” and that I subsequently “became visibly and verbally annoyed despite everyone answering” was a devious and malicious lie. Witness statements from the rest of the crew failed to give any indication I was visibly or verbally annoyed.

Throughout his complaint Bart recounted situations that had taken place and manipulated the context. Most of them had been witnessed by other members of crew. He knew that would make the allegations even more difficult for me to defend. Getting other crew members to support his lies was very important. Luckily for me, those with whom he colluded were not the sharpest tools in the shed.

Proving the context of the situations was not as Bart described was incredibly difficult. This ex police officer was using his past experience to frame me. Framing someone involves manipulating or modifying the truth in an attempt to prove guilt.

The following screenshot which comes from evidence I submitted to the company shows how Bart manipulated what I said to support his allegation that I was “visibly and verbally annoyed”.

copy of written correspondence

Crew manager Hayley who was repeatedly described by senior manager xx as “a very experienced manager” probably only skimmed through the outcome of the previous manager’s investigation. She was therefore unaware my use of the phrase “up the creek without a paddle” had already been dismissed. In her farcical investigation that took six weeks to complete, she upheld the complaint and described her reasons for doing so.

Here’s what she said;

copy of written correspondence

The crew members who complained about the different style of delivery of my pre-flight briefing were Bart, his now ex fiancee Anna and crew members Peter and Mia. All four had been with the airline for less than twelve months.

I proved conclusively in evidence submitted as part of my defence that Anna, Peter and Mia had colluded with Bart regarding answers given in their witness statements. He had also colluded with crew member Ven who wasn’t present in the pre-flight briefing.

Katrina and Claire who had been with their previous airline for thirty years and crew member T who had been with Virgin for several years and was working up in a supervisory role on our flight, had no complaints about any aspect of the briefing.

In the grievance raised against me by Bart he said he wished for “a suitable sanction be put in place“. Something else he said can be seen in the screenshot below which also comes from minutes taken during his meeting with cabin crew manager Lana. Pedro was the Employee Relations Consultant.

From minutes taken during the meeting with crew manager Lana and cabin crew member Bart

In case haven’t looked at the link just above, what Bart said was that he was “happy for the sanction against me to be as severe as loss of employment.”

Bear in mind, I had been in my role as a Flight Manager for nineteen years and had been with the airline for 30 years. Bart was still in his probation period having joined less than a year earlier.

According to his LinkedIn profile, the Employment Relations Consultant who is no longer employed by the company is a qualified solicitor in employment law.

Bart criticised my use of the words “quite why” in his performance review saying he felt I was being sarcastic and was ridiculing him. He claimed that amounted to bullying and harassment. Take a look at what I wrote, it’s right here.

Despite my repeated claims from the start that Bart and his accomplices were lying, nobody during any stage of the grievance investigation or subsequent appeal questioned them further. I supplied more than 500 pages of evidence to prove they were lying yet it made no difference.

The following was written by crew manager Lana who carried out the initial investigation. It’s in relation to my use of the words “quite why”.

copy of written correspondence

When you read the last paragraph and then read Bart’s complaint and witness statements written by Anna and Ven, it shows how biased and farcical the entire investigation was.

Someone was determined for this grievance to be upheld and I’m fairly certain who that was.

Crew manager Lana states elsewhere in her investigation that my words were not respectful or professional. She says I gave no consideration as to how Bart may feel from reading my performance review.

His complaint was rude, incredibly disrespectful and downright offensive. The fact he said he was “happy” for the sanction against me to lead to loss of employment speaks volumes about his nature and character. The union rep’ who accompanied me to several meetings said she had never heard anyone say anything like that before.

Company policy recommends disputes initially be dealt with through mediation. Despite Bart still being in his probation he refused this option. I believe that was because having told a pack of lies, there was no way he’d be able to support his diatribe in a face to face meeting.

Two managers and a senior manager didn’t consider his complaint or witness statements written by Ven and Anna to be in breach of the “Our Standards” or “Anti Harassment and Bullying” policies. They did however deem that my use of the words “quite why” was in breach of both.

I’m going to deviate here to cover something else that took place. Lower down are some screenshots which come from Bart’s complaint and Anna’s witness statement. The situation is regarding a “pornographic video” that I showed on the bus to the airport in Atlanta. It was an adult naughty gay cartoon that was sent to me by the First Officer shortly after we sat down on the bus. I had known him for many years.

After receiving the video I replayed it on my iPhone and was laughing to myself. Bart claims when I replayed it I was also commenting on it but there really wasn’t that much to say about it.

I was then asked by crew members T and Ven who were sitting a couple of rows behind me what I was laughing at. With them both being gay I turned around and showed them the video.

Bart states in his complaint I angled my phone away from his side of the bus. That was true, due to the content I wanted to ensure nobody else could see it. Witness statements confirmed nobody else was aware of the content of the video. What T says about the incident in his witness statement is particularly interesting. You’ll see that in a later chapter.

Needless to say, in his complaint and in Anna’s witness statement they state they both saw the video and found it offensive. Here’s what actually happened. After replaying the video for T and Ven who were sat next to each other, they both asked me to send them a copy. Having done that, T who was sitting just across the aisle from Anna replayed it on his own device. I could hear them all laughing as it replayed. The video had music so I knew they were watching it. Because of the angle I was holding my iPhone when I played the video to T and Ven, Anna and Bart could not possibly have seen it. They were sat two rows behind me on the opposite side of the bus. Anna was just across the aisle from T in the aisle seat. Bart was next to her in the window seat. They would only have been able to see the video when T replayed it on his own device.

Take a look at these screenshots. The first comes from Bart’s complaint. You’ll notice he’s very specific about the content of the cartoon;

copy of text from correspondence

This comes from Anna’s witness statement.

copy of text from correspondence
CM = Crew Member. She referred to me and Bart throughout her statement as CM and then our surname

Bear in mind our outbound flight to Atlanta was half empty. I had given the crew a two hour break in the bunks despite it being a day flight and there being no requirement for them to have a rest break in the bunks.

The flight crew (pilots) do not deliver any kind of brief to the cabin crew on the bus. The captain just wished everyone a Merry Christmas because it was Christmas Day. Note how Anna even claims I gave the video a name! The video is an animated cartoon that lasts less than a minute.

You may recall in an earlier chapter I said Anna and Ven repeatedly use the phrase “it made me feel (very) uncomfortable” throughout their statements.

copy of text from correspondence

I provided evidence to the company to show that I chatted with my partner for the remainder of the short bus journey to the airport on WhatsApp. Therefore I didn’t as Anna stated, turn my phone off.

The next screenshot is from evidence submitted as part of my defence. I’m referring to the meeting Bart had with crew manager Lana in relation to his complaint. I had seen the minutes of the meeting;

copy of text from correspondence

I want to share more of Anna’s witness statement with you. Regarding what she says, I’m two inches taller than her. In the photo in the previous link she’s the crew member not wearing a Christmas sweatshirt. Not a single word she says in her witness statement is supported by the three experienced crew members who worked alongside Bart and I in Upper Class. Very little of it was supported by cabin crew member T who worked up as Cabin Supervisor alongside her at the back of the aircraft either.

He told me prior to the flight two of the cabin crew were his friends. One of those friends was Anna, the other was Mia.

I had proved repeatedly that Anna was a liar but needless to say, it fell on deaf ears.

As someone who was already struggling with confidence since returning to work after being off for almost two years in 2016, you can’t imagine how reading these wicked lies made me feel.

copy of written correspondence

In the following screenshot the blue text is from Bart’s complaint. The second paragraph is from Anna’s witness statement. The remaining text is from crew member Ven’s statement.

According to witness statements written by other crew members, nobody noticed any unusual behaviour between myself and Bart at any time.

copy of written correspondence

This last screenshot also comes from Anna’s complaint. The matter of entering cabin crew working positions into my company iPad has already been explained.

The fact all three mention this confirm collusion did take place. None of them had any way of knowing whether I entered positions or not. That’s only visible on my iPad which nobody had access to. Ven believed I had not entered positions because he did not understand how the system worked. He then shared that information with Bart and Anna.

copy of written correspondence

If employee mental health was taken seriously Bart, Anna and Ven would have been dismissed immediately.

Although Anna was made redundant in response to Covid-19, Bart and Ven are still employed.

As an employee with an excellent work record who had been with the airline for 30 years, I received a final written warning for bullying, harassment and inappropriate touching.

In the days before hearing my appeal, senior manager xx requested a second incident that had been brought to her attention be dealt with as a grievance.

When redundancies were announced these two disciplinaries led to me losing my job. I was told the reason was also because I was an underperforming Flight Manager but my recorded performance scores to September 2018 (see previous link) shows I was well above average. I had also been told that many times over several years by my manager.

The manager who dealt with the second disciplinary (not the manager who initially investigated it) downgraded it to a written warning. For that reason I wasn’t immediately dismissed. The outcome was delivered just before the outbreak of Covid. I dealt with that second grievance whilst on long term sick with issues relating to my mental health.

The one thing I struggled with the most was understanding what it was the company had against me. I say the “the company” but I’m fairly certain senior manager xx Head of Cabin Crew was in fact the person driving both grievance investigations from the start.

I was convinced from quite early on that something more sinister was going on. Despite submitting huge amounts of evidence to prove Bart and his accomplices were lying, nobody showed any interest in questioning them further.

I initially thought senior manager xx wanted me out because of my sickness record but that did seem quite extreme. Although I’d been off for almost two years in 2016, I hadn’t had any further sickness since returning to work. That only changed as I struggled to deal with the first grievance investigation.

I then thought it could be because of the type of contract I was on. The airline had been trying desperately to make changes to it for many years. Only a small number of very senior crew were still on this particular contract. Following the outbreak of Covid-19 it was one of the first things to go.

As mad as that sounds, it seemed the only plausible reason for what was clearly a witch hunt. Afterall, senior manager xx was “responsible for implementing performance improvement plans with a focus on enhancing cabin crew productivity.”

It wasn’t until I started writing my blog that I remembered something that had happened between us some years earlier. It was a “eureka” moment and everything immediately fell into place. She didn’t want me out because of my sickness or contract, this was about revenge.

30 Years a Virgin | A Mental Health Blog | Part 3

Table of Contents

Mental Health Matters Part 2

Page 1 – The Importance of Evidence
Page 2 – Hideous Bunch of Misfits 
Page 3 – Writing Reviews Post Flight 
Page 4 – Another Incompetent Manager

Mental Health Matters Part 4

The Importance of Evidence

The publication of my blog 30 Years a Virgin the Ugly Truth was first announced on a Facebook group widely used by the airline’s cabin crew past and present.

It attracted a huge amount of interest and the moderators didn’t feel it was appropropriate for the nature of the page which I completely understood.

Shortly before being removed, crew member Peter who was on my Christmas flight to Atlanta in 2018 posted a comment. It wasn’t there for long but I don’t know whether he deleted it or whether it was removed by the moderators. I responded but the entire thread disappeared soon afterwards.

At the time of our flight Peter had been cabin crew for just six months. He was upset at what I’d written and said “a man is doing a blog about being bullied and attacked whilst attacking and bullying people who were only asked to do a witness statement. The situation was nothing to do with me yet he felt the need to slander my name. Things that have been written about me are hurtful and upsetting and I was only being honest and truthful.”

In this chapter I’m going to share sections from his witness statement as well as sections from those written by other members of the crew. I want to show that he was being anything but “honest and truthful”.

Links throughout the blog enable you to refer back to certain pieces of information. They should always open in a new tab. You may need to scroll up or down slightly to see the relevant text, photo or screenshot.

copy of written correspondence
From crew member Peter’s witness statement

The member of crew Peter is referring to is his best friend Mia. In her witness statement she accused me of touching her leg. Mia is also good friends with crew member T who worked up as Economy Cabin Supervisor and Bart’s ex fiancee Anna. All four of them worked together in Economy out of the same galley.

Considering Mia “mentioned” to Peter I had been “quite physical on a few occasions”, you would have thought she would have also said something to T who was her friend and supervisor. They also partied together whilst on the layover in Atlanta.

The following screenshot comes from Mia’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From Mia’s witness statement

This is from T’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From the witness statement of T

Regarding placing my hand on T’s shoulder, take a look back at what I said in relation to this during the first investigative meeting regarding Bart’s complaint. That meeting took place before the investigating manager had requested witness statements from the rest of the crew. Here’s the relevant paragraph.

Regarding Mia saying she didn’t find me particularly approachable, she was friendly enough when I worked with her on the outbound sector to do a drinks service. She was also very chatty when she sat across from me at breakfast on Christmas morning in the hotel.

On our return flight to London, once the dinner service in Economy was finished I asked T to send someone to the front to help us in Upper Class. The service was very busy and wasn’t going well.

T, Mia and Anna arrived a short while later. With there already being seven of us working out of the small front galley which included Ven who was looking after the Premium cabin, I didn’t need three additional crew.

I asked Anna to go back to Economy, Mia to help Bart on the right aisle because he was struggling to keep up with the service and T to remove any service items that customers had finished with.

Despite so many of us working together in a small area, according to witness statements nobody saw me or was aware of me touching Mia’s leg. She says in her statement she thought I may have dropped something or was having a laugh and then says “I don’t wish for this to be taken further”.

I believe Mia was coerced into making this statement probably by Anna who is a devious and malicious individual. I believe she was persuaded to make the statement to support Ven’s allegation that I tickled his leg which made him feel “very uncomfortable”. Were this not to be the case, why would Mia make a point of saying, “I don’t wish for this to be taken further”.

Considering Mia didn’t find me approachable, during a very busy meal service in Upper Class she came to speak with me to draw my attention to the portion size of the Christmas dinner. She could have spoken to Katrina about that who was working up as the Cabin Supervisor.

I took a photo of the meals Mia was holding to send with my catering report to the catering department. Here it is.

Mia was in Upper Class helping Bart out on his aisle for about forty five minutes. So her and Bart worked alongside each other during that time. I was also busy helping in the cabin. Here’s another screenshot from Mia’s witness statement.

copy of written correspondence
from Mia’s witness statement. FSM = Flight (service) Manager

She’s right I was stressed because the service wasn’t flowing and the galley was absolute chaos. I had Bart on one aisle who was struggling to keep up and a crew member in the galley plating food like it was school dinners. This was unlike any flight I had ever done before.

Although Katrina who was working up a rank as Cabin Supervisor was working incredibly hard, she wasn’t directing or leading the service. She was just another pair of hands.

Whilst all this was going on Mia claims I touched her leg and thought I had “dropped something or was having a laugh.”

Remember T was also in the cabin at this time yet was unaware of any inappropriate touching.

The following photo is the Upper Class cabin on the aircraft we were flying on. You can also see the width of the right aisle that five of us were working in during the service. Those people were Bart, Mia, myself, T and Claire.

Bart and Mia were serving customers in the seats by the window, Claire was serving the centre seats. T and I were helping in both aisles. By this time Katrina had moved into the galley to help plate up food.

Towards the end of the service once Ven had finished in Premium he also helped in the cabin.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class  cabin
Upper Class Cabin

At the back of the cabin is the bar area which is also a tight space. The galley which I don’t have a photo of is also very narrow. The galley wall can just about be seen in this photo. I’ve included it to show how narrow the walkway is behind the bar stools.

This is where I was on my hands and knees sweeping the carpet prior to landing when I touched Ven’s ankle as a joke to give him a fright. He was sat on the middle bar stool talking to Katrina who was sat to his left. Lottie was standing at the end of the bar in front of the toilet.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class bar area on the aircraft

In Bart’s witness statement he says “Laurence constantly touched me and other crew members on or below the hips. Excessive and unwanted touching especially by a manager who has not created good rapport was not welcomed and was commented on by many members of the crew.”

In Anna’s statement she said “I witnessed FSM Laurence touch crew member Bart below the hips while negotiating a tight work place (I think she means workspace). Crew member Bart looked uncomfortable with FSM Laurence’s hand placement as his posture straightened and he looked surprised. FSM Laurence also touched me below the hips and it made me uncomfortable.”

Take a look at what Ven said in his statement about me touching his leg. It’s right here. Also read the paragraph below “point 32” which is from Ven’s witness statement.

Having arrived at the front of the aircraft with T and Amy, Anna was only present for a couple of minutes before I asked her to return to Economy.

With seven people working in a very small area nobody saw or was aware of any inappropriate touching. Anyone who has ever worked as cabin crew will know you continuously have to squeeze past colleagues or physically move them out of the way to get by.

In fact we often joked about the galley at the front of the aircraft being the “sorry galley” because you were forever saying “sorry”.

The very nature of this working environment makes working alongside malevolent and devious individuals like Bart and Anna very dangerous.

Both used the situation to their advantage and colluded with other members of the crew. Although Ven, Mia and Peter were naive and stupid enough to go along with their lies, these three ignoramuses were not able to confirm in their own witness statements that they saw me touch anyone inappropriately at any time.

Crew members T, Lottie, Katrina, Claire, the First Officer and Captain of the aircraft all stated they were unaware of any inappropriate touching at any time. Lottie, Katrina and Claire worked alongside me on the flight to and from Atlanta.

Despite eight out of ten crew members confirming in witness statements they didn’t see me touch anyone inappropriately or were even aware of any such behaviour, this allegation was upheld by both cabin crew managers involved in the investigation and subsequently by senior manager xx who heard my appeal.

Two crew failed to return their witness statement. One was Bruce who worked the Upper Class galley, the other a female crew member in Economy.

As previously mentioned in my blog, I even supplied a letter from a doctor of clinical psychology who stated it’s “unlikely” I would have touched anyone inappropriately. He was able to say that because of things that had been discussed in the months prior to me operating this flight.

What makes this whole situation even more damning is that Bart was a serving police officer for eight years. Anna also came from a police background.

With regards to Ven’s allegation of me squeezing his waist, take a moment to think about that. How exactly do you squeeze someone’s waist?

Virgin Atlantic crew member wearing a Christmas sweatshirt
Look at the position of Peter’s arm, he’s behind me on the right. Is he squeezing Ven’s waist?

I look very tired in that photo. I had just spoken to my dad who was extremely poorly. I knew he was in the last days of his life. He passed away just over a week later.

He had lived with me since my mum died in 2010, I was his carer for eight years. He was now living in a lovely care home but it had been a long and difficult fight to get him a place. I’ll explain why and talk about that in more detail in the next chapter.

Little did I know when leaving Atlanta on this Christmas afternoon in 2018 with this seemingly happy bunch of cabin crew, that my life would never be the same again.

In Ven’s witness statement he says when he arrived for our flight to Atlanta after being called on standby he didn’t know anyone on the crew. Less than 24 hours later him and Peter are extremely good friends. Whilst that’s fairly common for cabin crew, I have a good reason for mentioning it.

In his comment on Facebook regarding my blog Peter said, “I would never lie maliciously to hurt someone.”

The following comes from his witness statement;

“Laurence spent a lot of time in the flight deck”.

Were this to be true it would have been extremely damaging. My role on the aircraft was to be in the cabin and not to be spending long periods of time chatting with the pilots in the flight deck. By making this statement Peter knew exactly what he was doing.

The comment can only refer to the inbound sector because the outbound flight was half empty and very quiet. He’s clearly trying to accuse me of skiving.

Peter didn’t come to the front of the aircraft once on either the outbound or inbound sector. He states several times in his witness statement that we saw very little of each other during both flights. Therefore he can’t possibly know what I did with my time.

The only other person who made a comment regarding my availability in the cabin or apparent lack of it, was Ven. He was working in the Premium cabin which is at the front. Peter was in Economy working from the galley at the back. We were on an Airbus A340-600 aircraft which is a very long aircraft.

Not even Bart and Anna made any reference to me spending excessive amount of time away from the cabin.

This comes from Ven’s witness statement;

copy of written correspondence
From Ven’s witness statement. CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor

It seems very clear why Peter wrote what he did in his statement. So much for “only being honest and truthful”.

Ironically this comes from his social media page;

copy of an instagram post with text

As you’ll see as I talk more about what he wrote in his witness statement, he doesn’t have a clue about being kind or mental health but these are great buzz words to get “likes”.

Ven worked position CM7 (CM = Crew Member) which looks after the Premium cabin. He works out of the front galley alongside the Upper Class crew.

I asked him on the inbound flight once he finished his service to help us in Upper Class. That’s the very reason why I allocated him that position. Crew member Katrina was the Upper Class Cabin Supervisor so I don’t understand why Ven believes he was doing that position.

According to Ven’s witness statement, on our inbound flight as well as working in a full Premium cabin looking after thirty eight people, he not only helped out in Upper Class but actually ran the service. He also claims to have done some aspects of my role which was Flight Manager. My rank is two ranks above that of Cabin Crew.

Anyone who has ever flown as crew for the airline and particularly with me, will see through his pathetic lies. His rank is Cabin Crew which is the same as the other eleven crew members on this flight. Furthermore, he wasn’t even the most senior member of crew.

The following screenshot comes from documents submitted as part of my defence. The blue font is the question being asked by Lana the grievance investigation manager. The orange is Ven’s response. The black is my response.

copy of written correspondence
FSM = Flight (service) Manager. CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor

Ven had recently attended an event known as “The Incredibles” and it had clearly gone to his head. The truth of the matter is he’s an arrogant deluded buffoon.

Maybe he thinks he worked the Upper Class Cabin Supervisor position because I asked him to show Katrina who was working up in that position, how to do the drinks bar paperwork. As a Flight Manager it’s not possible to do everything yourself so you have to delegate and rely on your team to help out.

I was relying on Ven because he was a competent and experienced crew member. Unknown to me at the time, he was also irritated at not being able to work up in the rank he was told he would be working when called out that morning.

Regarding his comment about making a seat belt sign P.A, every time I read that it makes me laugh. Let me put the situation into perspective. The onboard managers make all PA’s and always have done. They can if they wish delegate them to one of their crew. That was usually done so the crew member can gain experience making announcements.

During the flight the seat belt sign announcement is made by one of the Cabin Supervisors, usually the one in Economy. It’s mandatory that at least one announcement be made so if not done within a few minutes, the other Cabin Supervisor or Flight Manager will usually do it.

With there being three onboard managers on our flight even though two were working up, Ven claims he made the announcement because “due to lack of experience it wasn’t made.”

When the seatbelt signs were illuminated, T who worked up as Economy Cabin Supervisor in Economy made the announcement just like he made all other announcements he was required to make.

Each time the signs are illuminated a mandatory chain of events takes place. The cabin crew check customers in their section all have their seatbelts fastened. So Ven would have to check the entire Premium cabin. The crew then pass their “checks” to their Cabin Supervisor. Each Cabin Supervisor then advises the Flight Manager who in turn advises the captain.

Ven also stated I didn’t make a welcome announcement after take off. That’s strange considering in his grievance, Bart criticised my “welcome announcement”. This is the reason why as part of the witness statement requested by the company, the crew were asked;

“Please share any observations on Flight Manager Laurence’s PA’s.”

Considering Ven believes he was working as Upper Class Cabin Supervisor and also did parts of my position as Flight Manager, I’m surprised he didn’t claim to have made the after take-off welcome announcement himself. Afterall, in his deluded mind he believes he went over the head of all three on-board managers and made a seatbelt sign announcement because it wasn’t made due to lack of experience.

Part of my responsibility as a Flight Manager was to ensure safety procedures were followed.

Nobody else on the crew commented in their witness statement about me not making the necessary announcements or Ven having to make an announcement. Had this actually taken place I can assure you Bart and Anna would have mentioned it in their statements.

Ven’s lies are worse than his literacy and there’s plenty of them throughout this witness statement. You’ll get to see it in full in a later chapter of my blog.

Even Peter makes reference to my announcements in his witness statement. He says his travelling companion thought they were “were really long and didn’t need to be”.

Ven cites “lack of experience” as being the reason why the seatbelt announcement wasn’t made. He also said I should have taken charge but didn’t. That’s a strange comment to make considering Bart accused me of being a bully and of “overbearing supervision”. Let’s have a look at the experience in the Upper Class cabin on this flight.

I had been with the airline for 30 years, my last 22 were as an onboard manager (first Purser then Flight Manager). Katrina and Claire had both flown previously for another airline for 30 years, 20 of which were as Flight Managers. Lottie was the longest serving crew member, she had been with the company for about 8 years. Making an announcement regarding the seatbelt sign is not only company procedure, it’s a requirement laid down by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The most junior crew member in Upper Class was Bart who had only been flying for eleven months. According to minutes taken during his meeting with the crew manager investigating his grievance, he complained he wasn’t given the opportunity to work up as Cabin Supervisor.

As you’ll see from the performance review I wrote on him which will be published in due course, he wasn’t able to do his own job properly let alone run the entire service in the cabin.

In fact I awarded one customer airmiles as compensation because Bart had woken him up for breakfast but never went back to serve him. The customer was completely missed out during the service. He subsequently complained to me mentioning Bart by name.

I spoke to Bart there and then in the presence of Cabin Supervisor Katrina about why the customer had been missed out. I then explained to him the correct way to do the breakfast service in Upper Class.

The form completed for Customer Relations in regards to me awarding the customer airmiles explained exactly what had taken place.

In his complaint Bart told more lies about why the customer was missed out. Needless to say he refused to take any responsibility and put the blame on two of his colleagues.

finger about to touch a button on a keyboard which says lies

The following screenshot comes from evidence submitted as part of my defence. It’s regarding the buffet dinner arranged for us in the hotel on Christmas Eve, the day we landed in Atlanta.

Three tables had been set up. Bart, Anna, T, Peter, Mia and their two companions sat at one table along with another two crew members from our flight. I sat on a separate table with the captain, first officer, Lottie, Katrina and Claire. The third table was occupied by the Manchester crew.

The cabin crew member who I was asked to speak to by the captain was Peter.

copy of written correspondence
From evidence submitted as part of my defence

Despite having seen so little of me during both flights and the entire trip according to his witness statement, Peter says “he (Laurence) came across professional towards customers but to crew I feel he came across unapproachable and not so professional, his attitude made me feel awkward around him”.

On our outbound flight whilst half the cabin crew were on their rest break, I went to the back of the aircraft to check on Peter. He was in the galley alone and we spoke for about ten minutes. He told me he was best friends with Mia, that she had persuaded him to apply for the job of cabin crew and that he also worked in a gym.

Making conversation wasn’t easy which I put down to the large age gap and him still being very new. That was the only time we spoke one-to-one or spent any time alone.

In response to another question he says “I don’t feel he took his time to engage with his crew”. In another, “If I’m honest I didn’t find Laurence approachable in the slightest, mostly because of his briefing and he didn’t take much time to engage with myself.”

Here’s his answer to another question;

“Please share any other information you feel may be relevant to the performance and behaviour of Laurence and crew member Bart on this duty.”

“He (Laurence) also sent an email to all the crew regarding the flight and Voice of Customer which was very unnecessary and long” (just like my announcements then!).

Bearing in mind he’d only been cabin crew for six months and had never flown previously, his comment speaks volumes about how interested he was in his performance and development.

The email he’s referring to was only sent to the four crew working in Economy plus crew member T who worked up as Economy Cabin Supervisor.

Although I occasionally wrote performance assessments from home after a flight, I had never contacted a group of crew in this way. I did so on this occasion because I was disappointed to see a customer on our inbound flight had marked them “Good” on their Voice of Customer questionnaire. A comment was included with the score which said “the stewardess was professional but not engaging”.

In my pre flight briefings I always asked the crew to engage with customers whilst serving them. As you’ll see in due course, this was something I also addressed in Bart’s performance review.

The following two screenshots come from my Pre Flight Briefing. These sections come from evidence submitted as part of my defence;

copy of written correspondence

Cabin crew management had been putting huge pressure on on-board managers to achieve high Voice of Customer scores so being marked “excellent” was really important. Anything less pulled our scores down.

With the outbreak of Covid-19 those scores were used to decide who would be made redundant and who would be offered a place in the holding pool. This shows how important they were.

The holding pool was set up with help from the union so when the business picked up, crew who had been made redundant could be re-employed.

I had always taken a keen interest in my performance and was concerned that my scores had dropped slightly in the previous month. Even though I was still above average, I wanted to get them up as quickly as possible.

The way customers mark the cabin crew directly affects the Flight Manager’s scores. During the inbound pre-flight briefing scores from the outbound flight are shared with the crew. I therefore felt there was no reason why I shouldn’t share scores with this group of crew from our inbound sector. The cabin crew do not have access to them directly.

The only reason for doing this was because three out of the four who worked in Economy had been with the airline for less than twelve months. Crew member T who had recently been turned down for promotion was also working up in a supervisory role.

I was initially only going to email him because I thought he may be interested to know the scores for the flight but then decided to include the rest of the Economy crew as well. I also copied in each of their managers plus my own. Only one out of the four Crew Performance and Development Managers (cabin crew line managers) replied.

copy of an email
Email from a Cabin Crew Manager (MPD = Manager Performance and Development)

Have a guess who the only crew member was to reply. The same person who I said shone brightly and had the potential to go far in the company.

It was Mia, the same Mia who accused me of touching her leg and didn’t find me to be particularly approachable. In her reply she said;

“Thank you, I hope you enjoyed your days off”

Crew member T who worked up didn’t reply either. As you’ll see lower down, I even said in the email “T did an outstanding job working up as Cabin Supervisor”.

As I share more excerpts from Peter’s witness statement you’ll see how his tone changes when he speaks about Bart. They worked at opposite ends of the aircraft and Bart spent almost no time at all in Economy.

You’ll be surprised how much Peter knew about how he worked and how highly he spoke of him. Peter didn’t come to the front of the aircraft where Bart and I were working once on either sector.

Anna who had been with the airline for less than eleven months complained about my email to a crew manager whilst checking in for her next flight. Although she says she spoke with Julie on the 27th it was actually the 28th.

copy of written correspondence
OMB should read OBM – On-board manager

Mia was the crew member who complained to manager Julie with Anna.

The only thing Anna and Mia complained about was the email they received on their days off. Julie told me that had anything been mentioned about inappropriate touching or bullying, a full investigation would have been launched immediately.

The emails she refers to were not included in the investigation paperwork I received so I don’t know the content.

The following screenshot comes from evidence I submitted as part of my defence;

copy of written correspondence
From evidence submitted as part of my defence

In October 2021 I submitted a Subject Access Request to Human Resources. In accordance with British law they are required to share all information they hold in my personnel file. I have requested everything from December 2018 to the time I was made redundant.

As of mid February 2022 I have still not received this information. I have now filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Failure to provide this data is a criminal offence. It should be provided within one month although the employer can request an extension of two months.

The next screenshot comes from Lottie’s witness statement. She worked alongside me in Upper Class. Her statement was honest and accurate.

copy of written correspondence
Lottie’s witness statement

From what she has written you can imagine what Anna and Mia said about the content of the email. Her comment about me laughing and joking with the crew is a reference to me touching Ven’s ankle whilst on the floor behind him sweeping the carpet. The only crew members present at the time were Lottie and Katrina.

I want to end this page by sharing the email I sent to the Economy crew.

I know it’s longer than necessary but at the time of writing I wasn’t in a great place. Losing myself doing something I enjoyed was a good distraction.

VoC is the Voice of Customer programme. These are questionnaires sent to customers after their flight.

copy of an email
copy of an email
copy of an email
CSS = Cabin (service) Supervisor / FSM = Flight (service) Manager

30 Years a Virgin | A Mental Health Blog | Part 2

Table of Contents

Mental Health Matters | Part 1 

Page 1 – Retaliation, Making it Personal  
Page 2 – Performance Management System 
Page 2 – My Performance Management Record 
Page 2 – Open to Suggestions and Ideas 
Page 2 – Completing Onboard Performance Management 
Page 3 – The Early Days at Virgin Atlantic 
Page 4 – More of the Good Old Days
Page 4 – Cabin Crew Life Downroute
Page 4 – Pre-Flight Safety Briefings
Mental Health Matters | Part 3

Retaliation, Making it Personal

The response to the first chapter of my blog has been truly overwhelming. In just a few hours it received a huge number of views and messages of support from friends and colleagues some of whom I’ve not seen for years, poured in. I have read every comment and am blown away by the love and kindness.

The managers dealing with the grievance raised against me by ex police officer now cabin crew member Bart showed little interest in establishing whether he was telling the truth. The entire focus of their investigation was proving my guilt.

From documentation I received following the initial investigation I was able to read all correspondence associated with the case. This included detailed minutes of a meeting that took place between him and grievance investigation manager Lana.

At no time was he advised verbally or in writing that should it be discovered he has made false or baseless claims, he could face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

I find that surprising considering the Employee Relations Consultant present during the meeting is according to his LinkedIn profile, a qualified solicitor in employment law.

The following screenshot comes from minutes taken during Bart’s meeting with the crew manager who carried out the initial investigation. The purpose of the Employee Relations Consultant being present is to ensure company procedure is followed and to take minutes.

Regarding Bart not being happy with the way his ‘performance management’ was delivered to his manager, I sent her a copy of what I had written which is standard practice.

It’s clearly stated in all cabin crew training manuals that an employee’s manager must be copied in on any performance management that has been written. Bear in mind he was still in probation having only been with Virgin Atlantic for eleven months.

copy of written correspondence
from minutes taken during the grievance investigation meeting with Bart

With all allegations being upheld by the manager who subsequently carried out the disciplinary, I filed an appeal. It was dealt with by the head of cabin crew (HoC).

This was an opportunity for her not only to look again at the evidence, but to also investigate what I had been stating from the start, that Bart and five members of cabin crew one of whom was his fiancee were lying.

I was completely unaware at this time that she was driving the grievance and was determined for it to be upheld.

copy of an email
Reply to an email from my manager who asked me about the appeal meeting

One of the first things HoC (head of cabin crew) said to me in the appeal meeting was because the case had been going on for so long, she would try to deal with it as quickly as possible. I asked whether she had just read my appeal or the entire case. It was made up of more than 500 pages. She confirmed she had read the entire case.

It took her almost eight weeks to reach an outcome. During that time she didn’t speak to any of the cabin crew involved. Bear in mind statements written by those who worked alongside Bart and myself in Upper Class told a very different story to those written by the crew he had colluded with.

As part of my evidence I made reference multiple times to a WhatsApp conversation that I’d had with a friend/colleague following the flight. It had been included as evidence and I’d sent a screenshot to cabin crew manager Hayley via her work WhatsApp account.

After crew manager Lana found there was a case to answer, the matter was passed to Hayley. She dealt with the disciplinary investigation.

Hayley did not add a copy of the WhatsApp conversation to the case notes. I’d also sent her a photograph of the corridor of the hotel in Atlanta. That hadn’t been added to the file either. It was to prove another allegation made by Bart was also a lie.

Despite making reference multiple times to both pieces of evidence, HoC did not ask to see them.

The following is a screenshot from an email I sent to her regarding this matter;

copy of written correspondence in an email
Real names have been replaced with pseudonyms

Whilst off work for almost two years in 2016 with issues relating to my mental health, I never believed I’d return to work. Although excited to finally be going back, I was terrified and wasn’t even certain it was the right decision.

Prior to doing my ‘return to work’ course I had to be cleared by Occupational Health. As well as wanting to talk about mental health matters, they also wanted me to have a hearing test. That was because I had developed tinnitus.

I was told by an E.N.T doctor it can be caused by extreme levels of stress. For the ten years before it started I’d been dealing with an incredible amount of stress at home.

Despite having worked for Virgin Atlantic for almost 30 years, when I arrived at the training base for the first day of my ‘return to work’ course I was terrified. It had been a long time since I’d socialised with anyone and was no longer the bubbly, confident and outgoing person I once was.

I wore a dark business-like suit and whilst waiting for the day to begin sat in the corner watching apprehensively at everything going on around me. The entire environment looked alien to me and I wasn’t convinced I would get through the course.

Driving out the car park three weeks later was an amazing feeling. I couldn’t wait to get back on an aircraft.

Nine months on to be accused of bullying, harassment, overbearing supervision and inappropriate touching by a bunch of ignorant misfits set me back enormously.

Their poisonous lies took me on a journey so dark I don’t believe I’ll ever fully recover.

Throughout the entire investigation I struggled to understand why there was such determination for this grievance to be upheld. Proving Bart and his accomplices were lying took over my life and became an obsession.

In the end I was able to prove all twenty two complaints against me were lies. I was also able to prove Bart had colluded with other crew members. It made no difference at all.

Once in uniform no matter what I was dealing with at home or how I felt, I was representing the airline. I always tried to do that to the very best of my ability.

In my role as a flight manager I was responsible for ensuring safety procedures were followed and to lead and develop a team of cabin crew. From performance appraisals I received from those working alongside me, I clearly did a pretty good job.

I felt personally responsible for ensuring each and every customer on every one of my flights had the best experience possible. I loved my job and always gave 100%.

Male Virgin Atlantic Flight Manager
Taken at some point in 2019 whilst fighting a grievance I never had any chance of winning