£250k pay-off for sex-claim fire boss

Malvern Gazette: PAID: Deputy chief fire officer Lucy Phillips quit in August PAID: Deputy chief fire officer Lucy Phillips quit in August

THE region’s deputy chief fire officer was handed a £250,000 payoff amid claims she suffered sexual discrimination, it has emerged.

Lucy Phillips, who left Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service in August, secured compensation after bosses agreed a confidential out-of-court settlement.

Mrs Phillips, aged 48, of Worcester, joined the service in 2003 but was overlooked for the top job of chief fire officer in April 2010 when it went to Mark Yates instead.

Sources told the Worcester News she lodged a claim of sexual discrimination following that decision, and her treatment at work afterwards.

Bosses then took legal advice, which recommended the fire authority members agree the payoff privately at a meeting in May or risk a larger award before an employment tribunal.

Part of the sum awarded to Mrs Phillips was towards her pension, which made up a majority of the £250,000, but the rest was because of her sexual discrimination complaint.

Her salary as deputy chief fire officer was £97,003.

One source, who did not want to be named, said: “The legal advice was very clear that it should be settled at around £250,000 out of court.

“The general feeling was that we were lucky to get away with £250,000 because if it went to court the pay-out could have been higher.”

Part of the agreement was that she officially retired on health grounds, and that the reasons behind the complaints would remain confidential.

The Fire Brigades Union yesterday said it was angry about the decision being made in a secret session.

Steve Gould, secretary of the Hereford and Worcester branch, said: “We raised questions about why all this happened behind closed doors because we believed the public should have the right to know.

“It should have been open and transparent.”

A spokesman from Hereford and Worcester Fire Service said: “The details of her retirement were approved by the elected members of the fire authority in advance.

“Because of the personal nature of the matter, those details remain confidential and we are therefore unable to comment on any speculation that may surround them.”

It is the second time in recent years fire chiefs have been embroiled in controversy over payments to a senior worker.

Back in May 2010 Paul Hayden retired as chief officer after being wrongly advised he didn’t need permission and would get a bumper tax-free pension.

The decision ended up costing the taxpayer £320, 000 after the deal was challenged by the Fire Brigades Union and Mr Hayden claimed back his tax liabilities.

There is no standard retirement age for fire service employees, but anyone aged 50 or over with 25 years’ service can apply to leave early, and the most common age is 55.

Mrs Phillips has been replaced by Richard Lawrence.

Comments (9)

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11:41am Fri 12 Oct 12

Realistblue says...

nice to see my Taxe's are being spent accordingly...
nice to see my Taxe's are being spent accordingly... Realistblue

12:14pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Longtreeroad says...

Disgusting, somebody should lose their job over such a big mistake like this. But this time make sure its done properly!!!!
I hope no money was paid to her after august, when it says she QUIT!
Disgusting, somebody should lose their job over such a big mistake like this. But this time make sure its done properly!!!! I hope no money was paid to her after august, when it says she QUIT! Longtreeroad

4:45pm Fri 12 Oct 12

scolesy says...

You have to laugh £97k , and in the job for a few years,,,,,,,,.never would have worked on a tender, just pushed paper around a desk,,,,lets ask if there's a fire and I need to be rescued could she carry me out?? (maybe drag a leg,,) I want a so called Deputy fire chief to have at least 15 years in the job,,,and top of their game and the best at what they do,,not some namby pushing paper,,,,,,
You have to laugh £97k , and in the job for a few years,,,,,,,,.never would have worked on a tender, just pushed paper around a desk,,,,lets ask if there's a fire and I need to be rescued could she carry me out?? (maybe drag a leg,,) I want a so called Deputy fire chief to have at least 15 years in the job,,,and top of their game and the best at what they do,,not some namby pushing paper,,,,,, scolesy

6:22pm Fri 12 Oct 12

take a deep breath says...

WHAT A WASTE OF MY MONEY!!!!.....£97K salary and pension for life......I sometimes sit and think and sometimes I just think!!!!!!
WHAT A WASTE OF MY MONEY!!!!.....£97K salary and pension for life......I sometimes sit and think and sometimes I just think!!!!!! take a deep breath

9:34pm Fri 12 Oct 12

Voice of the Voyager says...

So, let's just look at the facts - she puts in for CFO, and fails to get the job; so then puts a discrimination case in, and walks away with £250K.

Could we actually have the background to Mrs Phillips, as regards her qualifications, experience and calibre for the position she held, and the position she was aiming for? Not the number of degrees she holds and management/diversity courses in attendance - the relevant assets for the job in hand.

Or is this as I suspect, a personal vendetta to extract as much as possible, because she lovingly believed she was the best person for the job, but others felt otherwise and her background did not stand up to scrutiny at that level? In blunt language - rumbled and not good enough.

Presumably she has walked into another civil service/quango position?

A few 'Fireman Sams' I have come across have been ex military, usually with a tour of Ulster under their belt, or in one case, a Falklands vessel. Somehow, I don't see Mrs Phillips fitting that bill.

Another case of someone promoted above their ability?

Indeed, may we ask how she obtained the position of deputy CFO in the first place?
So, let's just look at the facts - she puts in for CFO, and fails to get the job; so then puts a discrimination case in, and walks away with £250K. Could we actually have the background to Mrs Phillips, as regards her qualifications, experience and calibre for the position she held, and the position she was aiming for? Not the number of degrees she holds and management/diversity courses in attendance - the relevant assets for the job in hand. Or is this as I suspect, a personal vendetta to extract as much as possible, because she lovingly believed she was the best person for the job, but others felt otherwise and her background did not stand up to scrutiny at that level? In blunt language - rumbled and not good enough. Presumably she has walked into another civil service/quango position? A few 'Fireman Sams' I have come across have been ex military, usually with a tour of Ulster under their belt, or in one case, a Falklands vessel. Somehow, I don't see Mrs Phillips fitting that bill. Another case of someone promoted above their ability? Indeed, may we ask how she obtained the position of deputy CFO in the first place? Voice of the Voyager

9:31am Sat 13 Oct 12

reflector says...

We seem to be in a land of lunacy here. I understand that Mr Yates had worked his way up through the ranks from being a firefighter to Deputy Chief Officer of Cornwall Fire Brigade, presumably being highly trained and very experienced, having attended thousands of fire and rescue incidents in his time.

Mrs Phillips, on the other hand, had been Deputy Chief officer for only a very short time having previously headed a civilian section within Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service for only a few years. I was told that she had never previously occupied an operational post within the Fire Service and presumably therefore had never been in charge of an incident, or maybe even attended one. Some were surprised that she was even considered for the Deputies £97,000 per annum post, let alone being appointed to it as they normally go to experienced fire officers. For someone then to be appointed Chief after only 7 years in the fire service, let alone in a non- operational post, would I suggest have been somewhat unusual.

It doesn't take a genius to work out that she might perhaps have lacked a little experience to be considered for the top job which could just be why her application was unsuccessful.
We seem to be in a land of lunacy here. I understand that Mr Yates had worked his way up through the ranks from being a firefighter to Deputy Chief Officer of Cornwall Fire Brigade, presumably being highly trained and very experienced, having attended thousands of fire and rescue incidents in his time. Mrs Phillips, on the other hand, had been Deputy Chief officer for only a very short time having previously headed a civilian section within Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service for only a few years. I was told that she had never previously occupied an operational post within the Fire Service and presumably therefore had never been in charge of an incident, or maybe even attended one. Some were surprised that she was even considered for the Deputies £97,000 per annum post, let alone being appointed to it as they normally go to experienced fire officers. For someone then to be appointed Chief after only 7 years in the fire service, let alone in a non- operational post, would I suggest have been somewhat unusual. It doesn't take a genius to work out that she might perhaps have lacked a little experience to be considered for the top job which could just be why her application was unsuccessful. reflector

2:21pm Sat 13 Oct 12

Doogie 46 says...

Sounds like the Fire Service could have had a winnable case had they chosen to fight it - why do the public sector never contest these discrimination cases and just hand over a huge sum of OUR money? Given some of the details above, how did she rise as high as she did - POSITIVE discrimination perhaps?
Sounds like the Fire Service could have had a winnable case had they chosen to fight it - why do the public sector never contest these discrimination cases and just hand over a huge sum of OUR money? Given some of the details above, how did she rise as high as she did - POSITIVE discrimination perhaps? Doogie 46

5:47pm Sat 13 Oct 12

Omicron says...

What planet do these people who run the fire service come from. Reflector and Doogie 46 are spot-on with what they say. I remember at the time when this woman was appointed Deputy Chief Officer and thinking just how can someone who has no experience of actual fire fighting and emergency attendance get such a high position. It is total utter nonsense.
It is similar to the ridiculous situation of the previous chief officer who retired early and sued the fire service because it was allegedly stated that his pension would be tax free. For goodness sake a pension is income and is subject to income tax - end off.
It makes me wonder if there is a conspiracy in the fire service as these top people certainly know how to work the system to their advantage.
The fire service should challenge these decisions and go to tribunal if necessary. To capitulate in such a spineless manner is absolutely disgusting. I hope the WN is able to put on the necessary pressure to find answers.
What planet do these people who run the fire service come from. Reflector and Doogie 46 are spot-on with what they say. I remember at the time when this woman was appointed Deputy Chief Officer and thinking just how can someone who has no experience of actual fire fighting and emergency attendance get such a high position. It is total utter nonsense. It is similar to the ridiculous situation of the previous chief officer who retired early and sued the fire service because it was allegedly stated that his pension would be tax free. For goodness sake a pension is income and is subject to income tax - end off. It makes me wonder if there is a conspiracy in the fire service as these top people certainly know how to work the system to their advantage. The fire service should challenge these decisions and go to tribunal if necessary. To capitulate in such a spineless manner is absolutely disgusting. I hope the WN is able to put on the necessary pressure to find answers. Omicron

9:06am Sun 14 Oct 12

reflector says...

Doogie 46 wrote:
Sounds like the Fire Service could have had a winnable case had they chosen to fight it - why do the public sector never contest these discrimination cases and just hand over a huge sum of OUR money? Given some of the details above, how did she rise as high as she did - POSITIVE discrimination perhaps?
Why don't they contest these cases? Easy - because the spineless councillors and the officers who advise them are paying out OUR money! Easy come, easy go.

In days gone by councillors could be surcharged by the District Auditor but that seems to have gone by the board. Maybe if some or all of the money were to come out of their own pockets, they wouldn't be quite so ready to capitulate to ridiculous demands.
[quote][p][bold]Doogie 46[/bold] wrote: Sounds like the Fire Service could have had a winnable case had they chosen to fight it - why do the public sector never contest these discrimination cases and just hand over a huge sum of OUR money? Given some of the details above, how did she rise as high as she did - POSITIVE discrimination perhaps?[/p][/quote]Why don't they contest these cases? Easy - because the spineless councillors and the officers who advise them are paying out OUR money! Easy come, easy go. In days gone by councillors could be surcharged by the District Auditor but that seems to have gone by the board. Maybe if some or all of the money were to come out of their own pockets, they wouldn't be quite so ready to capitulate to ridiculous demands. reflector

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