£4.6million Payout for Unfairly Sacked Council Officer

Hammersmith & Fulham fired Rachael Wright-Turner while she was on sick leave

Rachel Wright-Turner with her children Sebastian (left) and Zachary (right)
Rachel Wright-Turner with her children Sebastian (left) and Zachary (right). Picture: Facebook

March 18, 2024

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has been ordered to pay a former employee £4.6million after a tribunal found that she was unfairly dismissed.

52-year-old Rachael Wright-Turner had been on sick leave in 2018 when the council wrote to her to inform her that she had been fired from her £125,000-a-year role as director of public service reform.

A hearing back in in 2021 determined that the correct procedure had not been followed and that council officers had given false testimony, but it is only now that the amount of compensation has been decided.

The tribunal had been told that Ms Wright-Turner was falsely accused of being drunk at a meeting with senior staff in a pub in May 2018. She says that she had been suffering from PTSD brought on her previous role with Kensington and Chelsea Council as its “humanitarian assistance lead” following the Grenfell Tower tragedy. She insists that she was not drunk but had suffered a panic attack brought on by her condition which required her to be taken to A&E.

She had also separately been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which former council chief executive Kim Smith alleged she did not disclose when she applied for the job,

Her letter of dismissal did not mention either of her medical conditions which the tribunal panel concluded was to avoid any inference that they had a bearing on the decision.

The panel also that Ms Smith and the council’s former HR director had misled the tribunal when they gave evidence that Ms Wright-Turner was handed an extended probation period on the morning she went to hospital. In fact, this happened a day later when she had also started her sick leave.

Ms Wright-Turner told the Mail on Sunday after the award was made, “This case has cost us everything. Before this started, I was married with two children in private school.

“Now my marriage has collapsed, I’m fighting to stop my house from being repossessed and my children have been left devastated after being forced to leave their schools.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham council spokesman told the Mail on Sunday, “We are very sorry for the ordeal suffered by Ms Wright-Turner, who joined Hammersmith and Fulham council in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.

“However, we have always considered Ms Wright-Turner’s claim for compensation to be vastly excessive, disputed and highly unprecedented.

“While we are grateful to the tribunal panel for dismissing many of the exceptional claims that her lawyers have made, we still believe this award is excessive and will be looking to appeal.”

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