A former civil servant in the Department for Work and Pensions has lost a court case against her ex-employer after she was fired over a series of offensive tweets.
Paula Walters, who worked in the child benefit department and was previously chair of UKIP’s Wirral branch, was sacked in November after the Echo newspaper uncovered tweets comparing immigrants to terrorists and paedophiles.
DWP said the tweets, which also included claims that immigrants were given preferential treatment by the benefits system, had breached the Civil Service Code.
A statement Walters sent to the Echo in response to its reporting on her comments also breached the code, the tribunal found.
The two-page statement included a series of incorrect claims about immigrants benefiting disproportionately from public funds, and several offensive statements, such as “I can’t tell the difference between a migrant and a terrorist.”
Walters was dismissed from her administrative officer post following an investigation by the Government Internal Audit Agency Counter Fraud and Investigation department and a disciplinary process.
She had previously been dismissed in 2017 for standing for election without permission, in breach of the Civil Service Code, but was reinstated the same year with a final written warning.
The former official took her most recent case to an employment tribunal, claiming her dismissal was a result of discrimination against her due to her nationalist beliefs and opposition to political correctness.
However, the tribunal found she was fairly dismissed for gross misconduct and that discplinary procedures had been properly followed.
"Her claims for direct discrimination and harassment on the protected characteristic of her philosophical beliefs are not well founded and fail," the judgement said.
Walters's views did not amount to a philosophical belief and were not therefore a protected characteristic, it added.
She was “unable to define political correctness in a way that was cohesive in the sense of her beliefs being intelligible and capable of being understood”, the judgement said.
“The claimant’s belief that she should be able to say anything about anyone is not worthy of respect in a democratic society. Her belief put her in inevitable conflict with the fundamental rights of others, rights protected under the Equality Act 2010,” it added.