A SWINDON health boss played an innuendo-laced game of scrabble with a newly qualified nurse and told her she was ‘f***able’ in a bid to get her into bed, a tribunal has heard.

Peter King, who worked for the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust , is accused of bombarding the rookie nurse with saucy text messages and making lewd remarks as he waged a campaign of harassment.

The senior manager is alleged to have used sexually suggestive words during a game of online Scrabble on Facebook and intimated he could ‘molest her’ when she was in his car.

In one exchange, King is accused of saying: “You are obviously not catching on too quickly, and I’m getting bored of inferring things. I’ll be blunt, I think you are f***able.”

The nurse was so repulsed by his approaches she reported King to Wiltshire Police who gave him a caution for harassment.

King, who was already on a final warning for harassing student nurses, is subject to a Nursing and Midwifery Council misconduct hearing accused of waging a campaign of sexual harassment.

He was team manager of the Swindon North and West Community Mental Health Team at the time of the allegations, in August and September 2010.

Nurse A, whose identity has been protected during the hearing, joined his team on August 2 as she qualified as a psychiatric nurse, and immediately became the object of King’s attention, it is said.

Ros Stower, who investigated the complaints, said Nurse A’s experiences had left her ‘fearful, intimidated and threatened’.

Nurse A began keeping a diary of alleged approaches by King, which started that August 12 when he is accused of saying to her ‘You mean you have been in my car before and I did not molest you?’

“Those are exactly the words she used and she read them out from her diary herself,” said Ms Stower. Nurse A went off sick on August 24 with stress, but King allegedly continued to pursue her by trying to get her personal mobile phone number through her mentor.

Ms Stower told the hearing King had been on his last warning at work, with sexual innuendo part of daily life in his department. She said: “He was on a final written warning because of complaints raised by student nurses of sexually inappropriate comments towards them while they were on a placement with his team,” she said.

“From the interviews it appeared his team was quite split, with Peter King held in high regard by some and others hold him in less regard. The consistent message was Peter King was quite friendly with his team, and there was a lot of belief he did not consistently present in a professional manner.

“Sexual innuendo was a long-established culture on his team.”

He was suspended from his role as manager of the community mental health team, based in The Mall, and was eventually sacked by Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust for serious gross misconduct in March 2011.

King, who has not appeared at the hearing, wrote to the panel denying any wrongdoing. He admitted sending nurse A texts but denied they were sexual, and did not deny trying to get her personal mobile phone. But the NMC did not accept any admissions of guilt have been made.

Giving evidence yesterday, the nurse said she put his comment about ‘molesting’ her in his car down to his reputation among the nursing team.

When she got into a game of online scrabble with King via Facebook, he laid the eight-point word BOOB while sending her sexually charged instant messages, it is alleged.

“I can’t be 100 per cent certain what he wrote, but I have some memory of the word boob being placed on the board,” she said.

“I just thought he was mucking around. I am absolutely sure he made sexual innuendos, he made me feel uncomfortable during one of the games, so uncomfortable I made excuses that I had to go and tend to one of my children, which wasn’t the case.”

Nurse A said King had pressured her into adding him as a friend on Facebook, and said she felt she had no choice after he asked three days in a row. She said King, who she described as having an ‘army persona’, had isolated her from other colleagues since joining the team, so she had no one to confide it.

“It seemed like every time I tried to beat him off, as politely as possible, he kept coming back saying it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone,” she said.

She thought about quitting nursing, and was signed off sick with stress on August 24. After she confided in a colleague the alleged harassment was reported to a senior manager in the trust. The nurse also called in Wiltshire Police after one of the text messages, and King was asked to sign a document promising not contact her again.

Nurse A, who fought back tears as she gave evidence to the hearing, was eventually moved to a different mental health team within the trust.

She was promoted to a band 6 nurse last September and took on a new job as a specialist practitioner in April this year.

The hearing continues.