Advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi denies liability for stroke victim


Advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi has been branded “despicable” by the family of a former creative director who was sacked after suffering a stroke.

Personnel Today exclusively revealed in May 2006 that Mike Austin, a former creative director of Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi in Bahrain, was dismissed just two weeks after having a stroke on his way to work. In the following weeks, the lease on his house was terminated and his pay was cancelled.

Documents obtained by Personnel Today show that Saatchi & Saatchi acknowledged Austin had suffered a “tragic illness” and that his case was “complex and distressing”.

But the company has insisted that because the agency in the Gulf is run as a franchise operation, it is not under its control.

However, Johann Xavier, Saatchi & Saatchi’s chief financial officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has now offered the Austins $100,000 (£49,838) as a “goodwill payment” without admission of liability.

A letter from the company’s legal counsel to the Austins said: “We do not believe that a protracted court case is in any of the parties’ interests. The payment would be in full and final settle­ment of all alleged claims against Saatchi & Saatchi Holdings Ltd.”

The stroke left Austin paralysed down one side and unable to speak. His condition has since deteriorated and he is now prone to seizures. His wife, Lesley, has been unable to work since the event, and is facing huge medical bills.

She said her husband was a broken man, and accused the company of corporate bullying.

She said: “Saatchi & Saat­chi has ignored the behaviour of Gulf Saatchi and its abuse of human rights. To them it is just a cheque to Michael, it is his life.”

No-one at Saatchi & Saatchi was available for comment.

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