A council worker who was harassed by a male colleague for years after she rejected his advances has won £18,000 at a tribunal after bosses failed to tackle the problem - even when he was convicted in court.

Lynn Poustie claims she was dismissed by managers at Midlothian Council and made to feel as if she was "exaggerating" after Alexander Ritchie confessed his love for her in 2011.

When she told him she was happily married, things quickly turned nasty and he began threatening and abusing her, calling her a "f***ing cow" and spreading malicious rumours about her.

When Mrs Poustie complained about the abuse, Mr Ritchie, a road sweeper, was allowed to continue working overtime in the same area as her.

He also waited for her outside her office at finishing time and threatened her with his sharp litter picker.

Ms Poustie, 45, of Dalkeith, eventually took her case to an employment tribunal where judge Murdo Macleod ordered the council to pay out the sum.

Speaking about her case, Ms Poustie, who was represented by Thompsons solicitors, said: "He was just a work colleague, we had everyday chit-chat, 'hi, how are you doing' - that kind of thing.

"Then one day he told me he loved me. I was so shocked, I just didn't know where it had come from. I told him I was happily married with children and I made it clear that I just didn't think of him in that way at all.

"He then took things to the extreme. He obviously didn't handle the rejection well and things turned really nasty. It all just spiralled out of control."

A judgment on the tribunal reveals that on the day Mr Ritchie confessed his love for her, Ms Poustie received a telephone call from a work friend later that evening telling her that Mr Ritchie had turned up at her house "drunk and crying, saying that he had told his wife that he loved the claimant and that he had left home".

Following this, the pair continued to meet each other in Dalkeith town centre as they went about their work and Mr Ritchie began abusing Ms Poustie when he saw her.

He also told other colleagues that "he was in love with the claimant, that she was wearing her hair down and therefore must be in love with him, and that the claimant's husband worked away from home and he knew where she lived".

Ms Poustie raised a grievance with the council saying she was scared to come to work because of the abuse and the council agreed to move Mr Ritchie to Bonnyrigg to work.

However, he was still allowed to do overtime in Dalkeith and still came into contact with Ms Poustie.

He also appeared outside her office at Midlothian House at her finishing time several times a week when he would again verbally abuse her.

He began spreading false rumours that they had had a sexual affair and that she had raised a grievance because he had called it off.

Ms Poustie said she believed the council failed to take appropriate action or take her grievances seriously because her employers started to believe those rumours.

She said: "It was a really hard time. I was scared to go into my work. I was also scared because he had told other people he knew where I lived. We installed security cameras and my children weren't allowed to answer the door to anyone.

"Throughout it all my employers made me feel as if I was a little girl who was exaggerating. I think when someone behaves in that way and it is consistently happening, then it should be a sack-able offence. Nobody should be continually scared to go to their work because of another employee.

"I became so withdrawn, I stopped speaking to people, I stopped going out for my lunch, and my employers were well aware of it. I felt there was a continuous lack of respect for my safety, they were just so dismissive of me."

Mr Ritchie was eventually convicted of harassment and threatening behaviour at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at the end of 2015.

However, he still works for the council and still does overtime in Dalkeith, where Ms Poustie continues to work.

She added that she had hoped the tribunal outcome would change things "but he is still walking about in his uniform and I still don't feel safe if I come across him".

Judge Macleod said: "The claimant has undergone a distressing and anxious time, over a period of some three years, as a result of the harassment visited upon her by Mr Ritchie.

"Mr Ritchie's behaviour towards her was such as to attract a conviction in the criminal proceedings taken against him, and therefore amounted to very serious misconduct."

Peter O'Donnell, a senior lawyer with Thompsons Solicitors, said: "This case involved serious sexual harassment by one employee of another over a number of years.

"Ms Poustie was subjected to threatening behaviour, both verbally and physically, which put her in a state of fear and alarm.

"The council had various opportunities to deal with this over the period and, apart from some steps they took at very early stages of the case, they consistently did nothing to try to prevent the harassment.

"This case is an example of the potential financial liability for employers who do not take steps to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace."