6:50am Wednesday 8th July 2009
By Jamie Henderson
A Wandsworth Council worker who was sacked after he allegedly told a woman with an incurable condition her illness was down to the fact “she did not believe in God” is set to take the local authority to an employment tribunal.
Duke Amachree, 53, was dismissed from his post as a homelessness prevention officer at Wandsworth Council after they received a letter of complaint from the disgruntled woman.
According to the council, the father-of-two saw the complainant after she came into the council’s offices on January 26 this year to ask for housing advice.
Mr Amachree, a council employee for 18 years, told a national newspaper he was unfairly sacked by the council and said he only had a brief conversation with the woman during which he suggested that she turn to God because doctors may not have all the answers.
The Wandsworth Guardian made repeated attempts to contact Mr Amachree.
Wandsworth Council strongly denied Mr Amachree's account and stated that the complainant was in fact subjected to a 30-minute “barrage” from Mr Amachree who told her that the only reason she was ill was that she did not believe in God.
A source said a normal session with a council worker should last 15-20 minutes at most, yet Mr Amachree spent at least 45 minutes with the complainant which indicates the length of the "barrage".
He added: “Mr Amachree told her that she shouldn't trust doctors and that only God could cure her. He also suggested that she watch a series of videos on miracles if she wanted to be cured.”
Mr Amachree claims that the council's decision to dismiss him is a breach of his human rights. He told a national newspaper: “I was stunned when they suspended.”
A local GP said it was “wholly irresponsible” for a council worker to be offering medical advice to a seriously ill person.
A council spokesman said: “We can confirm that following a disciplinary hearing into very serious allegations, a member of staff has been dismissed for gross misconduct.
"The hearing heard compelling and overwhelming evidence that the staff member gave wholly inappropriate, unprofessional and unacceptable advice to a member of the public, which caused great upset and distress.
“After the member of the public had complained about his conduct, the staff member disclosed sensitive personal information about that person to the media.
"It is also categorically untrue to suggest that this is about a member of staff saying 'God bless' or that the council has a policy banning employees from making references to God in the workplace."
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