AN MSP's caseworker spread rumours that her office boss masturbated in the toilets after becoming aroused by the sight of the back of her head, an industrial tribunal has heard.

Philomena Donnachie has launched a legal battle against SNP politician Stuart McMillan, alleging she was regularly “belittled” and “undermined” in his Greenock office by manager Matthew Leitch.

An employment tribunal in Glasgow was told that Mr Leitch submitted a complaint about Ms Donnachie to Mr McMillan, in which he claimed the 55-year-old had been spreading "salacious" rumours about him.

In the missive, Mr Leitch wrote that Ms Donnachie had told at least two people that "I go to the toilet to masturbate because I have become aroused by staring at the back of her head."

The letter formed part of a grievance procedure against Ms Donnachie, although she resigned before it could be concluded.

READ MORE: SNP politician in tribunal claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination

The caseworker, who denied ever making the allegation, said that she was "horrified" to see it in print when it was emailed to her by her MSP boss.

She said: "I was absolutely horrified that these words appeared in the letter sent to me from Stuart [McMillan].

"My whole sensibilities were offended by it in every manner. It almost made me speechless to think about it. It was horrific."

"I could not believe he would put that in writing to me."

HeraldScotland:

Stuart McMillan MSP 

Ms Donnachie, who suffers from depression, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and other health issues, has launched a claim for unfair dismissal and discrimination because of her sex and disabilities.

She said that the office of the Inverclyde MSP had a particular layout which resembled a school classroom, with workers sitting in a row with Mr Leitch at the back of the room behind them.

The former MSP's staff member admitted that this made her uncomfortable, and that she had complained to others about feeling that her office manager was staring at her.

However, she denied ever mentioning him taking bathroom masturbation breaks, claiming those were words she would never say.

The tribunal heard that Ms Donnachie had a strained relationship with Mr Leitch, who had criticised her poor timekeeping and workrate in the past.

She said the bad atmosphere between them contributed to her taking almost a year off due to work-related stress.

READ MORE: Ex-prosecutor in legal battle with Crown Office over unfair dismissal claim

Solicitor Brian McLaughlin, representing Ms Donnachie, said that the tribunal would hear from witnesses who claimed she had made the masturbation remarks.

However, she said that this would be "lies", and that the claim was the "final straw" before she decided to resign.

She said: "It was all too much for me. I just thought 'this man [Mr Leitch] hates me. He does not want me around. I just thought it was the final straw and that I could not take any more of this."

The tribunal, before employment judge Lucy Wiseman, continues.