MP Claire Perry ordered to pay compensation for unfair dismissal

An MP has been ordered to pay compensation to a former member of staff she sacked from her constituency office.

An employment tribunal ruled the Conservative MP for Devizes Claire Perry unfairly dismissed Penelope Nurick in February.

The hearing in Bristol heard Mrs Perry had replaced Mrs Nurick with another employee without fair warning.

The Wiltshire MP was ordered to pay her former secretary £1,296.88.

Mrs Perry told the tribunal that she was forced to replace Mrs Nurick after senior advisor Christopher Jones left his job in November 2011.

She said she was unable to replace Mr Jones and so decided to split his extensive job role between her London and Devizes offices.

Mrs Perry hired Tamara Reay - who was able to cover both policy and surgery-only roles - in her Devizes office at the expense of Mrs Nurick, who had worked with her since 2010.

She said: "It was clear from our early experiences that she [Mrs Nurick] would struggle with more responsibility.

"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."

'Absence of consultation'

Judge Jenny Mulvaney said there had been an "absence of consultation" and that no discussion took place with Mrs Nurick of whether she should be considered for the adjusted role.

She said: "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 judge said that had a "fair procedure" been followed and Mrs Nurick consulted about Mrs Perry's plans there was a "100% likelihood" that she would have been dismissed anyway.

She said that the compensatory award reflected the length of time by which Mrs Nurick's employment might have been extended, in order to enable a fair redundancy procedure to have taken place.

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