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Sacked civil servant loses case after calling woman a lying bitch

office for department for work and pensions
office for department for work and pensions Image credit:

Civil servant Andrew Weeks has lost an unfair dismissal and discrimination claim after he called a woman a lying bitch when she claimed for disability benefits in 2019.

Weeks was forced to stand down from his job at the Department for Work and Pensions which he held for the past 26 years in Blackpool.

The woman appealed against the DWP decision to reduce or take away her Personal Independent Payment on March 5, 2019.

She was challenged by Weeks to whether she qualified for the claimant in a letter she received on March 15 which branded her a lying bitch.

The woman told Lancs Live: “I was devastated by Mr Week’s comments as I am struggling to deal with various physical and mental health conditions.

"Mr Week’s comments made me feel even more negative about my conditions. He has displayed a bias and appears incapable of acting in an impartial manner as he has concluded that I am a “lying bitch”.

"His egregious comments demonstrate an implicit bias and highlight how some employees of DWP view disabled people such as myself."

At the time Weeks’ offensive remarks attracted national media coverage urging the Prime Minister to open a formal investigation.

The civil servant was sacked from his role at the DWP on April 23, he appealed four days later saying the decision was 'pre-empted and that unconscious bias was natural and unintended'.

In his appeal Weeks said he was suffering withdrawal effects from antidepressants before he wrote the offensive letter which could had impacted his behaviour.

He went on to say he removed an insulting word at one point composing the reply but forgot to omit a second before sending the letter out.

But chairperson of the hearing, Linda Spencer, argued he had the "presence of mind to remove one comment was enough to suggest that his thought process was not sufficiently disturbed enough to render him unable to control his actions and unaware of the insertion of the wording".

Spencer dismissed the claims made by Weeks, saying his actions were “wholly inappropriate”.

Weeks escalated his case to an employment tribunal in December 2020 on the grounds of unfair dismissal and he was suffering from anxiety as well as depression.

A tribunal implied when Weeks was sacked he was struggling with Prurigo nodularis, eczema and insomnia.

But at a cross–examination Weeks could not provide any evidence that his health had any influence over the comments he made in the claimant’s letter.

He also confessed about deleting an insulting word in his written reply and he was not distracted at the time of writing the letter, he made the accusations after feeling 'under pressure at every stage to come up with something'.

At the final ruling this week Employment Judge A M Buchanan concluded: "It is not acceptable to present explanations to us as evidence when in fact [Mr Weeks] knew the explanation advanced was

not true” and there was a "genuine belief that [Mr Weeks] had used offensive language about a customer in an appeal submission."

At the hearing, the DWP claimed Mr Weeks alleged anxiety and depression did not amount to a disability.