Mayor loses job over Prime Minister ‘deserves this’ Covid-19 comment

By Richard Vernalls, PA
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Mayor loses job over Prime Minister ‘deserves this’ Covid-19 comment

A town mayor who said Boris Johnson “completely deserves this” after he was hospitalised with Covid-19 has lost her job at a law firm.

Sheila Oakes, who is mayor of Heanor in Derbyshire and a district councillor, posted the comment on Facebook on Monday night.

Replying to a message calling for people to say a prayer for the Prime Minister, she wrote: “Sorry, he completely deserves this and he is one of the worst PMs we’ve ever had.”

Ms Oakes, who sits on Amber Valley District Council representing the Heanor East ward, later apologised after her remarks attracted a storm of criticism, saying “I made a mistake”.

Following her comments, Amber Valley Labour group withdrew the party whip from the councillor, saying a “full investigation” would take place in due course.

Ms Oakes’ remarks have also now cost her her job at solicitors VHS Fletchers, where she had been working as a paralegal.

The law firm, which has offices across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in the East Midlands, said it had taken “swift and decisive action” after becoming “embroiled” in the row.

In a statement, Ms Oakes’ former employer said: “On Monday evening Sheila Oakes, a paralegal at our Ilkeston office and also Mayor of Heanor posted deeply offensive remarks relating to the Prime Minister’s current state of health on Facebook.

Boris Johnson pictured before he was admitted to intensive care on Monday, after his Covid-19 symptoms worsened. (@BorisJohnson/PA)

“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.

“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.”

The statement added Ms Oakes’ stated views were “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,” the firm said.

“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.”

The firm also urged people to “show restraint” before making online posts.

“Our experience shows the hurt and upset that such posts can cause,” it said.

The statement concluded: “The partners hope that our actions have clearly demonstrated that we will never condone such sentiments or activity on social media or elsewhere and that the activities of an individual no longer employed by the firm will not reflect badly on the remaining staff.”

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