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Devizes MP told to compensate staff member she sacked
Devizes MP Claire Perry has been ordered to pay compensation to a former member of staff she sacked from her constituency office.
Mrs Perry, an aide to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, terminated the employment of her close friend Penelope Nurick following a staff reshuffle.
An employment tribunal found that Mrs Perry unfairly dismissed Mrs Nurick from her role as a part-time constituency secretary. Mrs Perry was ordered to pay her a total of £1,296.88, made up of a basic award based on age and service of £332.29, compensation of £664.59 and £300 for loss of statutory rights.
Mrs Nurick was one of Mrs Perry's seconders when she stood as the Conservative Party candidate for the Devizes constituency in 2010, and had worked in her office for two years.
She was dismissed on February 23 this year when Mrs Perry, 48, replaced her with another employee in the constituency office.
Mrs Perry told a tribunal in Bristol she was forced to replace Mrs Nurick after senior advisor Christopher Jones left his job in November 2011. The MP said she was unable to replace Mr Jones and so decided to split his extensive job role between her London and Devizes offices.
She hired Tamara Reay - who was able to cover both policy and surgery-only roles - in her Devizes office at the expense of Mrs Nurick.
"It was clear from our early experiences that she (Mrs Nurick) would struggle with more responsibility," Mrs Perry told the hearing, which was held in September.
"The claimant required a lot of managing and support, particularly in the IT area, and all of this led me to believe that this would not be something she would be able to do, she would be incapable. I could not afford to keep Mrs Nurick on doing a surgery-only job and employ someone to do a local policy job. I found someone who could do both."
Finding in Mrs Nurick's favour, employment judge Jenny Mulvaney said: "It was conceded by the respondent that the dismissal of the claimant by reason of redundancy was unfair and so I find," she said in a written judgment.
"There was clearly an absence of consultation. Although the respondent considered whether the claimant should be offered the role to which Mrs Reay was appointed, no discussion of that possibility took place with the claimant.
"In addition no notice of the meeting at which she was informed of her redundancy was given and she was not informed of her right to be accompanied at that meeting. The reason for her dismissal was not formally confirmed to the claimant until some three weeks later and although given a right of appeal, the claimant would have been justified in concluding that any appeal was unlikely to be successful."