MEP's former worker wins tribunal case

6:10pm Monday 17th December 2007

By Tom Moseley

A EURO MP's former office manager has won a case of constructive dismissal against the politician.

And now Hilary Harris is expected to receive thousands of pounds after winning her case against North West MEP Dr John Whittaker, chairman of the UK Independence Party.

An employment tribunal upheld her case after she claimed her job was advertised without her knowledge when she was off sick.

Speaking after the verdict, the 57-year-old said: "I feel great.

"All I wanted was an apology. I really loved that job, and it's a relief to have won."

She ran his Preston offices from February 2004 but she fell ill in December 2006, and it was later found she had suffered a stroke.

She told the tribunal in Manchester that she had been pressurised to return to work by party aide, Greg Beaman, and Dr Whittaker.

But in their evidence, they said the reason they had phoned her a number of times was because they were concerned about her.

Dr Whittaker said: "During nearly three years that Hilary worked in my office I always thought we got on well."

While she was away, the job of office manager was advertised on an initial part-time basis.

Mrs Harris, of Chipping, claimed she had no idea this was going to happen, and said she had not been involved in the recruitment process.

Dr Whittaker and Mr Beaman claimed she had been told they were looking to appoint a job-share for the post of office manager.

Mrs Harris said she was left Feeling "undervalued and abused" after learning from her new colleague that she too had been appointed office manager.

She handed in her notice in February 2007, claiming her position had been made "untenable".

The judge said whether she was consulted on the "job share" was the key to the case - and awarded compensation after deciding she had not been told.

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