Today’s Telegraph carries an item regarding the sacking of Lisa Greenwood, from her £16k a year civil servant at the Department of Children, Schools and Families.
Miss Greenwood, 38, posted an anonymous message on the internet at the height of the furore over abuse of the second home allowances. Rather foolishly she posted the comment from a work computer. Her comment was traced back to her work email account.
Miss Greenwood had been angered by Miss Blears's ability to avoid paying capital gains tax on the sale of her designated second home. On May 13 she posted the following comment anonymously, on a political website: "How dare you wave a cheque about on national TV, saying that you are sorry. You are only sorry that you have been caught. You are a disgrace (including all the other honourable members). Why haven't you been sacked?"
Miss Greenwod, who had worked for the DCSF for seven months, was brought before a disciplinary panel and dismissed on May 22.
"A written warning I could understand, but I was shocked to be sacked," she said. "It has been extremely upsetting that I have been sacked for having an opinion. When the scandal broke we had all been discussing it at work, despite the civil service code. It was just the same in writing that everyone else had been saying at work and discussing openly in the office."
A DCFS spokesman said Miss Greenwood had been found guilty of gross misconduct and had brought the Government department into disrepute. "The civil service has a clear code of conduct for its employees, which states that civil servants should be politically impartial and not act in a way that could damage the reputation of their department."
Even though there was a lot of justifiable anger at the venality of our Members of Parliament, Miss Greenwood was foolish to post the comment from work. Although her comment was anonymous and she did not identify herself as a civil servant, it would have been pretty obvious from her ip address that she was posting from a government department. Had she waited until she got home nobody would have been any the wiser.
That said, I think the DCSF were needlessly heavy handed in their approach. Looking at her salary Miss Greenwood was a probationer in a very junior post (probably an Admin Assistant or maybe an Admin Officer). A verbal or written warning would have ensured that she would have kept her own counsel at work in future.