A builder questioned by police for wolf-whistling at a young woman yesterday (Wed) hit back – claiming he was paying her a “compliment”.
Ian Merrett, 28, said wolf-whistling was “part and parcel” of working on a building site and even bragged about using cat-calls to seduce a string of other women.
The dad-of-one was quizzed by police after Miss Smart, 23, secretly filmed him and accused him of sexual harassment.
She claimed she suffered daily wolf-whistles as she walked past the building site on her way to work as a marketing co-ordinator at a digital media firm in Worcester city centre.
The issue sparked a national debate with women’s groups condemning the builders’ behaviour claiming it promoted “everyday sexism” while others criticised Miss Smart for wasting police time.
But yesterday Mr Merrett, from Worcester, defended his actions, and said: “It’s highly likely it was me who did that wolf-whistle.
“I’ve seen the news coverage and it’s not right. I’m a builder and my mates are builders. We are all hard working people and our reputation has been damaged.
“Wolf-whistling is part and parcel of working on a site, it’s complimenting a girl.
“I can remember that day when she [Miss Smart] took the video, we were under-pinning a wall that day.
“I only saw the back of her, I didn’t even see her face and you can see in the video the wolf-whistle comes after she had passed the gate.
“I didn’t even see her face, and I wouldn’t recognise her if I fell over her in the street, so I don’t know how that could possibly be sexual harassment.
“Police came to our site and said someone had made an allegation of harassment. They showed us the video so we stopped doing it.
“It’s not worth getting into trouble over some silly little girl.
“I don’t know why she complained, she must be thinking things above her station.
“I’m sure if she walks past again and she is lucky she will get wolf-whistled again.
“I have wolf-whistled so many girls and got so many birds and snogged so many girls off the back of that, and never had a complaint before.
“But I’ve got a girlfriend so need to be careful what I say.”
Earlier this week, Miss Smart condemned men who wolf-whistle, claiming it was demeaning and compared it to racism.
She said: “I’ve noticed this behaviour more and more around the city.
“Men will lean out of their cars or vans and shout comments about my appearance or whistle and I know and have seen this happen to others as well.
“I think more women should speak out about this behaviour, maybe it will make people think twice.
“Imagine hearing someone speaking that way to your sister, mother, wife or daughter.
“Personally I don’t think that such comments, even if they are considered complimentary by the perpetrators, are appropriate.
“It is very disrespectful and is comparable to calling out at someone of a different race or religion.”
West Mercia Police confirmed they investigated the allegation but did not take further action.