A paralegal and local councillor who wrote on Facebook that Boris Johnson ‘completely deserved’ to have coronavirus has lost her job, her former firm has said.
Midlands practice VHS Solicitors released a statement last night that Sheila Oakes, who was based at its office in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, and also mayor of Heanor, is no longer employed by the firm in any capacity.
Oakes, a Labour member, had written on Facebook on Monday evening that the prime minister ‘completely deserves this and he is one of the worst PMs we’ve ever had’, after Johnson had been admitted to intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
VHS said Oakes had posted in a personal capacity, but it was clear from her Facebook biography that she was an employee of the firm, and as a result it had become embroiled in the media backlash which followed her comments. Several of the comments on social media about the original post had mentioned VHS and called for it to dismiss her.
The firm said it was clear that Oakes’ actions had the potential to have a detrimental effect on its reputation and those working in it, reducing the morale of staff working to provide advice and representation to suspects in police interview or court.
The firm added: ‘We have previously stressed that her views are 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. 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 partners are hopeful that we are now able to move on from this incident. Swift and decisive action was taken by the firm, even though at times we could be less than transparent with the steps that we were taking due to issues of confidentiality. We hope that people are in retrospect understanding of these issues.’
Oakes has since apologised ‘unreservedly’ and said she was concerned about the doctors and nurses who lacked equipment to protect them from the virus. She described her comments as ‘something said in anger’. She has been suspended from the Labour party pending an investigation.