26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Whistleblowing vet wins case

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A former Northern Ireland Government veterinary officer has received a £1.25 million ($A2.2 million) settlement from the Department of Agriculture and Environment, along with an “unreserved” apology.

Tamara Bronckaers resigned from the Department in 2018 after concerns she raised about animal welfare and failures in traceability in the meat supply chain were not acted on.

In September last year an Industrial Tribunal found she had been constructively dismissed.

The Department has now dropped its appeal against that decision.

In a statement issued by her solicitors, Dr Bronckaers (pictured) said the past few years had been “extremely harrowing”, and she could now “move on in the knowledge that I did what was right”.

The Industrial Tribunal heard she was regarded as an expert on livestock market legislation and had identified serious failings in animal welfare at some livestock markets.

Dr Bronckaers said her concerns were reported to colleagues, including her Line Manager, Julian Henderson, but were not acted on and many of her e-mails were ignored.

The Tribunal judge said Dr Bronckaers had been reasonable to persist in raising her concerns, and that she had been professionally ignored, undermined and excluded by Dr Henderson in particular.

The judge also found it was reasonable for Dr Bronckaers to regard Chief Veterinarian, Robert Huey’s actions towards her as “intimidating, patronising, belittling and dismissive of her as a professional”.

Belfast, 28 April 2022

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