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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 May 2007, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Woman gets suicide advice payout
Terri King
Mrs King claimed she had permission from the client
A Citizens Advice Bureau advisor who was sacked after she phoned a suicidal woman's GP was awarded 18,000 damages.

Southampton Employment Tribunal agreed with Terri King, 58, who claimed unfair dismissal after she was sacked for breaching confidentiality rules.

Mrs King called the doctor of a woman who had sobbed down the phone and said she had taken an overdose of pills.

Her manager, Peter Wales, said she made an "irrational emotional error." The tribunal ruled this was "ridiculous".

'Imminent danger'

Mrs King, who had worked at the Lymington branch of the bureau for five years, lost her 13,000-a-year job in September over the incident.

But in a judgment, tribunal chairman Ian Soulsby said it was "ridiculous" to describe Mrs King's actions as an "irrational error".

"Viewed objectively there is no criticism of the claimant to act in this way.

"A life may have been in imminent danger. From any point of view this was a sensible course of action to take."

Previous suicide attempt

The woman's doctor was able to treat the distraught woman as a result of Mrs King's call.

The hearing heard that under Citizens Advice Bureau rules, Mrs King should have told Mr Wales, who should then have consulted a committee on what action to take.

The hearing was told the woman had attempted suicide before and following the letter of procedure would have taken too long.

Mrs King denied breach of confidentiality and gross misconduct.

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