A Royal Navy nurse accused of bombarding her married female senior officer with lesbian love messages has claimed her boss made a series of sexual innuendos including ‘charge my battery’ and ‘too much milk for you’.
Commander Sally-Anne Bagnall, 51, is accused of harassing her boss, Surgeon Captain Elizabeth Crowson, by launching a relentless ‘romantic pursuit’ despite being repeatedly rejected.
Barrister Dingle Clark, defending Cdr Bagnall, quizzed Surgeon Captain Elizabeth Crowson about the remarks which he claimed led his client to believe her boss was ‘keen’ for a lesbian relationship with her.
Mr Clark said, while referencing a female Lieutenant Colonel at Costa, Capt Crowson said ‘she does nothing for me’. He added: ‘Then you turned round and gave Cdr Bagnall a knowing huge smile.’
Commander Sally-Anne Bagnall pictured outside Bulford military court. She claimed her boss made a series of sexual innuendos including ‘charge my battery’ and ‘too much milk for you’
He also said: ‘Subsequently, at a lecture at Whittington barracks, when you were listening to the lecture… Cdr Bagnall recalls you turning to her looking very knowingly and said “are you coming?”
‘Do you remember being in the Costa after work and saying ‘oh gosh, two middle aged women together, what will they think?’ On one occasion, you were discussing transgender issues and said “gosh, high risk sex”.
‘Do you remember an occasion where you said in Costa with a knowing look “too much milk for you?” On another occasion, you looked closely at her body and breasts and said “come on, let’s go for it”.
‘And, on another, you were charging your laptop or your phone or something, and you said in a knowing way “charge my battery”.’
He added: ‘There’s only one inference Cdr Bagnall drew from that, that you were keen for a romantic relationship or giving the impression that you were keen.’
Capt Crowson said she had no recollection of any of the comments and dismissed the suggestion they were intended sexually.
She said: ‘The examples you are bringing up show how I felt. Every innocuous, normal conversation was misinterpreted as having some sexual innuendo or connotation.
‘I have no recollection of those examples, I would never remember saying something like ‘charge my battery’.’
Capt Crowson said Cdr Bagnall even misinterpreted ‘office chit chat’.
She said: ‘Whenever I said I don’t want a relationship she would respond by saying “well you say that but you know you don’t mean it.. because of the way you behave and the emails you send me and other people”.
‘The way you act around me, I know you want a relationship with me. The way I behaved towards my work colleagues and her would be a cheery greeting at the beginning of the day and a social enquiry like “how was your weekend?”
‘It was office chit chat, just the wheels of office life. My emails would be polite and courteous to her and others but she seemed to misinterpret them.’
Commander Bagnall outside Bulford military court. Barrister Dingle Clark, defending Cdr Bagnall, quizzed Surgeon Captain Elizabeth Crowson about the remarks
She added: ‘I’ve thought long and hard about how she could have misinterpreted them.’
Mr Clark said that it was quite clear Cdr Bagnall had the impression that Capt Crowson was ‘up for it’.
Capt Crowson said: ‘It didn’t make any sense to me as I’m a straight married woman and had not given her any reason to believe that, but that’s what she wanted to believe.’
Capt Crowson said one of the most concerning aspects of the alleged harassment was a stream of ‘blatantly sexual’ messages and calls at all hours.
She said: ‘The bits I found most difficult to manage were the calls and messages well outside the working day.
‘One of the texts came through at 5.30am and woke me and was blatantly sexual in its content. There was another strange text that was hard to fathom that came through at 9pm.’
Capt Crowson said the messages had ‘sexual overtones’.
It was heard Capt Crowson lived in Helensburgh, Scotland, with her family and would make the six-hour journey to DMS Whittington at the start of the week.
Commander Bagnall, now of HMS Nelson in Portsmouth, Hampshire, denies harassment.
The trial continues.