The former chief executive of the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) has started legal proceedings against the professional body. She claims to be the victim of sexual discrimination and constructive dismissal.

In June, Gibbins left the IRM after 16 years as chief executive. The institute said she had decided not to return after taking maternity leave. However, Gibbins resigned two weeks after returning from leave.

According to the IRM, Gibbins was upset by an investigation which took place while she was on leave and then left of her own accord.

Senior vice chairman, Andrew Mills, said: “Maureen went on maternity leave and there had been some issues before she left.

“While on leave, some of the staff made some comments to the governors. Some of this was idle gossip, but some needed further investigation.

“We decided to launch an investigation into the allegations, but did not tell Maureen because we didn't want to put undue stress on her while she was pregnant.”

However, Gibbins claimed the investigation was carried out after she gave birth.

“I had already had my baby,” she said. “This happened when my baby was 14 days old.

I was told a report had been passed to the chairman and the issues would be raised at the board meeting the next day. But how can they make a full investigation without notifying me, when I was running the office?” she said.

Gibbins added: “I have been led to believe by senior members of the institute that the situation wouldn't have arisen if I hadn't taken maternity leave.”

Her claim for constructive dismissal is based on the fact she has yet to face any hearing from the IRM to answer the accusations. However, Mills said Gibbins was offered the chance to address the allegations. “The governors invited her to a hearing to discuss the matter, but she instead resigned the day before the hearing.

“To be honest, this completely threw us. We didn't expect it and the hearing was about discussing the issues raised – nothing more,” he said.

He also said she had been treated the same “as any other member of the institute would in similar circumstances”.

Both Gibbins and the IRM refused to disclose the details of the allegations.

The IRM is hoping to find an “amicable” solution to the whole affair.

Gibbins is seeking a public apology for the way the IRM handled the issue and wants to see its practices and procedures reformed.

“I feel all my good work over the past 16 years has been undone. My name has been sullied and it is jeopardising my future employment chances. The institute was very male-oriented a few years ago, but other view points were beginning to be introduced.

A hearing at London's Employment Tribunal Office has been set for the end of January.

  • The IRM is facing further embarrassment after a set of this year's exam papers went missing. A number of students were given an automatic pass mark after an examiner failed to return their year long projects (see Backchat, page 36).

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