Councillor Sheila Oakes, who is currently mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire, was sacked from her job as a paralegal at VHS Fletchers in Nottingham on Wednesday after going through a disciplinary hearing. News of her departure came a day after the Labour Party booted the senior councillor out of the party.
In response to several complaints from members of the public, VHS Fletchers shared a statement on Wednesday that read: ‘These posts were made in a personal capacity, but it was clear from her Facebook biog that she was an employee of this firm, and as a result we became embroiled in understandable and legitimate criticism of what she had said.’
Councillor Sheila Oakes (pictured above), who is currently mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire works as a paralegal for Nottingham law firm VHS Fletchers who were quick to distance themselves from her hard-hitting comments
Her comments on Facebook stated that the Prime Minister ‘deserved’ the situation he was in with the coronavirus
The firm posted their statement to its website and made the announcement on Twitter today
‘We can confirm that as of now Ms Oakes is no longer employed by this firm in any capacity. We have no knowledge of what her intentions are in relation to her political career.
‘We have previously stressed that her views are not shared by the partners or any other members of staff. To wish illness upon anyone must be abhorrent to all right thinking members of the public. We are acutely aware of the distress that such posts can cause, both to the family and friends of the Prime Minister, but also to all of those affected by this terrible virus.
‘These are difficult times, and it is perhaps all the more important that people show restraint and most importantly think about what they say and post online before they do so. Our experience shows the hurt and upset that such posts can cause.
‘The partners are hopeful that we are now able to move on from this incident. Swift and decisive action was taken by the firm, even though at times we could be less than transparent with the steps that we were taking due to issues of confidentiality. We hope that people are in retrospect understanding of these issues.
‘Although the commentary on this issue has been mixed in tone, although united in condemnation of Ms Oakes’ actions, we have been heartened by a number of those who were able to distinguish her actions from those of this firm. It must have been clear that her actions had the potential to have a detrimental effect on the reputation of the firm and those working within in, and reduce the morale of those staff who continue on a daily basis to provide advice and representation to all those who need it, whether this is in police interview or at court.’
Boris Johnson is pictured above last week before he was taken to hospital for treatment
Writing on Facebook in response to the news that Mr Johnson was transferred to an ICU at St Thomas’ Hospital in Westminster on Monday night as his symptoms worsened, Ms Oakes declared: ‘Sorry he completely deserves this, and he is one of the worst PM’s we’ve ever had.’
She later apologised ‘unreservedly’, but the Labour Party withdrew the whip from her, effectively kicking her out.
Miss Oakes will keep her seat until the next election, but she is now an independent politician.
Twitter users called on VHS Fletchers to take swift action against Ms Oakes (pictured above)
Twitter users called on VHS Fletchers to take swift action against Ms Oakes, who had been working from home because of the coronavirus lockdown. The firm is one of the biggest in the East Midlands and specialises in a range of areas from criminal defence, prisoners’ rights, sport and education.
One user Tweeted: ‘I feel for you, I really do and I hope you will deal with this vile employee to full extent of your disciplinary powers, to have such a vile human representing your firm is no fault of yours, politics aside, I am truly disgusted that one human can say those things to another.’
Before announcing Cllr Oakes had left, the firm tweeted: ‘We employ 60 people across 6 offices and are the only legal aid provider in 2 towns we are in.
‘Are you content for the business to fold and those people to lose their jobs, and local people to lose access to justice, because of one person’s comments?’
A separate district council standards inquiry may also follow for Ms Oakes, an Amber Valley councillor since 2014, if formal complaints are made to the local authority.
The firm today tweeted that Sheila Oakes’ comments had been ‘disgraceful’
Explaining the decision to remove her from the Labour Party, a spokesperson for the Amber Valley Labour Group said: ‘Following comments from Cllr Oakes on social media, which we utterly condemn, the Amber Valley Labour group withdrew the whip this morning and can now announce this now the whip has spoken to Cllr Oakes.
‘This means that Cllr Oakes does not currently sit as a Labour councillor and further due process will follow.
‘We wish the Prime Minister, and all who are suffering with this awful disease, a speedy recovery and send love and solidarity to them and their families.
‘It would be inappropriate to comment further until due process has taken its course.’