Zantac Lawsuit

Researching drug company and regulatory malfeasance for over 16 years
Humanist, humorist

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

GSK Alleged of Ignoring Sexual Harassment Claim


Dame Emma Walmsley, Chief Executive Officer GSK

Mark Best is 54

He lives in Puckeridge in Hertfordshire

He's pissed off with GSK (GlaxoSmithKline)


Well, he, and his fiancée have been passed around from pillar to post by the hierarchy at GSK.

His betrothed, Georgia Suckling, is also pissed off.

She assumed that any disorderly conduct by any other GSK employee toward her would have been nipped in the bud.

Sadly, this isn't the case as it's alleged that Georgia has been subjected to harassment from a colleague at GSK.

A male colleague.

For the past month or so, I've been copied in on a series of emails to GSK, which have included the GSK CEO, Emma Walmsley and one of the "Glaxo Three', Jason Lord.

In a nutshell, Mark Best is alleging that his fiancée , Georgia Suckling, has been harassed by a male colleague.

Once, both Georgia and Mark, brought this to the attention of senior staff, they were, basically, stonewalled and pressured into leaving their positions and told to travel 200 miles or so to their new place of employment.

The emails, of which there are many, throw the light on GSK's apparent misconduct procedure, moreover how it is claimed that such a procedure is nothing but words on a website that really mean nothing at all.

I asked Mark to write a guest post for this blog. I included all of those he copied in on emails, including Walmsley and Lord. I asked for comments.

In typical GSK fashion, they never responded

Mark Best has much to say.

This is part one...


Hi, my name is Mark Best, I am 54 years young and currently live in a village called Puckeridge in Hertfordshire.

I am a time served Engineer and hold a Higher National Certificate (HNC) in mechanical production engineering. 

My skills and qualifications have been accredited by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and my title is Mark Best, ENGTECH, a globally recognised level of professional registration for Engineering Technicians. 

I served my apprenticeship with the Pharma company called Glaxo based in Ware, Hertfordshire, which has gone through several mergers including Glaxo Wellcome and currently GlaxoSmithKline or GSK. I have had one break in service with GSK when it’s Aerosol department was closed in 1995. I moved to a company called Napp /Bard pharmaceuticals in Cambridge on the Science park near Milton where I spent 2.5 years as a packaging engineer. I returned to the GSK Ware site in 1998 and worked in the Tablet Packing dept as an Engineering Tech until 2010 and then moved on to industrialisation of the new equipment to assemble and pack the then new Ellipta device. After this (Circa 2016) I moved into an Engineering Compliance and C.I. (Continuous Improvement) role as a Senior Engineering Technician up until being forcibly made redundant in Feb 2020, I say forcibly but I will explain this later.

My fiancée, Georgia Suckling, also worked on the Ware GSK site and that is where we first met. Georgia was employed by a 3rd party business partner of GSK who was contracted to run the GSK Ware engineering stores, the company is called ERIKS U.K.

Georgia had had several roles within Production environments at various companies. Prior to joining ERIKS U.K. she was a Production Manager at a specialist lighting company where she oversaw and planned the production schedule and ensured components and sundries were ordered into stock to meet production schedules for customer orders and ensure successful delivery of customer orders to agreed timescales.

Georgia is currently 30 years old and had worked for ERIKS U.K. from early 2017 where she joined them as Office Manager in the GSK Ware Engineering Stores. Georgia lived in Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire with her Mum and two dogs, Fin and Izzy, a crazy pairing of a Samoyed and French Bulldog!

Georgia was in the Office Manager job for 8 months ( roughly) when ERIKS U.K. decided to remove the then Service Centre Manager (SCM) due to his lacking performance. Georgia was left in the deep end and held the stores together alone as the Office Manager until she was approached by ERIKS U.K. and her GSK manager (Graham Hale) in December 2017 to step up to the role of SCM owing to her outstanding performance. Finally Georgia agreed to take the role and was given a pay rise, a company car, private healthcare and a commitment of necessary training and support for the senior role from both GSK and ERIKS U.K. Georgia commenced the SCM role in Jan 2018.

In early Feb 2018 I was requested by my manager and my senior manager to review the spares holding and lead times for the Ellipta Packing department and liaise with the machinery suppliers to smooth this process and reduce lead times of critical parts. The two main suppliers to us were Marchesini, an Italian packing machinery manufacturer and ATS (Automated Tooling Systems) a Canadian machinery manufacturing specialist.

A meeting was held between my two managers and myself with Georgia, Graham Hale (GSK contracts manager) and Sue Gratwick, who also worked for ERIKS U.K. as a store's person.

It was agreed that Georgia and I would work together to highlight the issues that ERIKS faced in procuring the spares we required for Ellipta Packing and we would come up with solutions and improvements that were good for all parties concerned.

Both Georgia and I got on well from the start of the project and I addressed several issues that she was facing very quickly! 

Firstly, to get Georgia a GSK laptop to release orders on the GSK systems remotely, e.g. from home, Georgia had been asking for this for ages and rather than having to be stuck at her desk in the stores office she could release orders remotely as and when required  (GSK run a 24/7 operation whereas the stores only work on days Mon -Fri). Georgia was taking the GSK laptop home and could spend 2 hours per evening releasing orders for GSK which eased the pressure she was under in the office and to concentrate and improve the metrics set by GSK during the day.

As well as this quick win, she voiced issues regarding ATS (Automation spares deliveries). I had first hand experience of this from my Industrialisation role. When I visited ATS in Canada, the guys on the shop floor were disgruntled owing to the closure of their in-house machine shop. Many parts and spares were made in-house at ATS and problems/modifications could be addressed quickly and resolved almost immediately. Since the closure of the in-house machine shop, the parts drawings were sent to China to a 3rd party company to be made in a bid to save costs! The issue that the company now faced was that parts would take 8 weeks to be made from scratch and be shipped from China to Canada. Often the parts were not to the correct standards or there were other issues that caused setbacks, especially on new bespoke machine builds such as GSK machine builds. This obviously caused a delay of a further 8 weeks to remedy the problems but also set back other parts of the project that relied on these parts being delivered. This put ATS under pressure, GSK under pressure and ERIKS U.K. under pressure.

To relieve the problem during the industrialisation phase, I had approached a local Engineering Company that we/GSK Ware had used for many years called Pope and Meads. A deal was struck whereby Pope and Meads could manufacture parts/spares under licence for ATS meaning that we, GSK, could control quality and drastically reduce lead times for critical parts e.g. same day/next day etc. This agreement was never rolled out to ERIKS U.K. and hence ERIKS/Georgia and the stores were getting the bad press for lead time delivery for ATS parts that was clearly outside of both Georgia’s and ERIKS control!

On the back of this, I arranged for Georgia to have a planned visit of Pope and Meads, a tour of the manufacturing facility and an opportunity to meet the team who she would need to liaise with to procure urgent/critical ATS parts on behalf of ERIKS U.K. to keep GSK Engineering spares in stock or respond to urgent breakdowns quickly.

During the time spent in the engineering stores, and with Georgia working on this project, I became aware of a certain individual, a Sodexo worker (Sodexo were another GSK 3rd party business partner used on the Ware site for plant/facilities maintenance) who was coming to stores constantly throughout the day and for the same part, 

On one occasion, I noticed this person pointing to Georgia behind my back and she looked worried. She went to the main store area with the Sodexo worker for a few minutes and came back to the office visibly upset. I asked her if she was OK and she said "no". 

She shared with me that this guy was constantly asking for a relationship with her, she had declined politely stating she did not want a boyfriend but he was persistent and would not take no for an answer. Georgia opened up to me that several GSK employed engineers had made inappropriate propositions and comments to her and another Sodexo manager, [redacted], had acted inappropriately with suggestions and comments on SKYPE. This had been reported to Simon Russell, the now area manager for ERIKS who approached  [redacted] about his manner and it stopped immediately. She said she could shrug off most of this male attention but this individual would not take no for an answer and if he saw her talking to any other male on site he would be asking her if she was seeing this bloke or that bloke.

I explained to Georgia that she did not have to suffer this type of harassment and GSK had strict policies and reporting lines if this inappropriate and unwanted behaviour continued.

Georgia was due to go on a short city break with a friend and this was in late February. She relayed to her friend how this Sodexo individual was making her feel at work and her friend was threatening to come to the site to confront the individual directly and to tell her mother.

Following Georgia’s return from her break, I asked Georgia out on a date and we started a relationship in early March. We got on great and enjoyed each other’s company. The harasser had no idea that Georgia was seeing me but persisted to ask her if she was seeing this guy or that guy if he saw her talking to any other male employee. Georgia described him as a 'dripping tap' His attempts to approach Georgia around the site increased and if he passed her at one point on site he would run through buildings to ensure he was in her path, a few moments later on her return from a meeting to her desk for instance!

Towards the end of March 2018, I was at my desk in my office area with my colleagues on a Monday morning and my manager approached me and just said, "Mark, you have to come with me, you are not going to like this but you have to come with me now." My colleagues were clearly shocked and I did as I was instructed. I was taken across the lobby to the meeting room in the Directors suite where the head of security was waiting with two security guards. Neil Garrod, the GSK head of security said to me, “Mark, I’m so sorry to have to do this, in the last 20 odd years of knowing you on site I have never heard your name mentioned in vein”. Neil went on to state Colette Cochrane, my Engineering Director, "received a call from Security over the weekend where somebody has reported that you were seen drunk as a lord in a local bar and openly taking and handing out cocaine”. He added, "Colette has instructed us to conduct a drink and drugs test on you now and that is why you are here", Colette had sighted GSK Speak-up as the reporting system used to deal with this allegation.

I stated there and then that I had not been out at all over the weekend, I had not touched a drop of alcohol over the weekend and I do not do/take drugs so the allegation was completely false on ALL counts. I said I would pass the test and be clear on both drugs and alcohol! I had to take the test to clear my name and, as stated, was clear on both counts.

On return to my desk, my colleagues were concerned about what I had been subjected to and one went on to source the GSK policy for Drug and Alcohol testing. We realised then that the policy had been breached by Cochrane. The policy for GSK testing and speak-up is below

Drugs/Drink testing Policy
Click on image to enlarge

Following this test, I did speak with Cochrane and again she sighted 'speak-up' as the policy used to action the report. GSK had the number but would never release it to me, only the Police! This is important because I went to the Police and they basically laughed down the phone saying that your Engineering Director has been watching too many films and the Police would only get involved in tracing a call/phone if a serious crime was linked to it! This is a workplace matter. End of call!

I relayed this info to Cochrane who was reluctant to share the number. Luckily Georgia had mentioned this matter to Graham Hale who said that the call was made from a Sodexo work phone. As we suspected, Georgia’s harasser was probably behind this malicious call.

Hang on to these thoughts and read the policies as it is important to what happens next!

GSK Protocol

Mark has much more to say in Part Two.

Stay Tuned!

Bob Fiddaman

Please contact me if you would like a guest post considered for publication on my blog.