A former special adviser to the government has reportedly been given a five-figure pay off just weeks before her unfair dismissal and sex discrimination claim was due to be heard at the employment tribunal.
Sonia Khan, media adviser to former chancellor Sajid Javid, was escorted out of Downing Street by police officers in August 2019 on the order of the Prime Minister’s senior aide, Dominic Cummings.
Cummings, who is himself expected to leave Downing Street by Christmas, dismissed Khan in August last year after he claimed she was leaking information and had misled him over her contact with an individual close to former chancellor Philip Hammond. Khan has denied the claims.
Her claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination was set for a five-day hearing at an employment tribunal next month, but she confirmed in a statement that she had reached a settlement with the Treasury.
The statement, issued by the FDA Union on Khan’s behalf, said: “Following 14 months of negotiation, I have today reached a settlement with the Treasury, my former employer, and as a result I am no longer pursuing my employment tribunal claim which was due to be heard in London in December.
“I would like to thank the FDA who have supported this action and were instrumental in finding a settlement, alongside their legal advisers Slater and Gordon.
“I would also like to thank the Metropolitan Police Service for their support during intense scrutiny and pressure for myself and my family, and my current employer, Cicero/AMO, for their wholehearted backing in the last year.”
Cummings’ lawyers reportedly attempted to get him removed as a respondent in the case, but Khan’s legal team argued he was pivotal in her dismissal and that what he had done personally, rather than just as an agent of her employer, should form part of the case.
At the time of Khan’s dismissal, only the Prime Minister had the power to dismiss special advisers, but this was later changed so that Cummings had “ultimate power for disciplinary matters”.
It is not the first time the government has paid off an employee in a case involving Cummings. In 2012, a senior civil servant received £25,000 from the Department for Education in a bullying case she took against Cummings and another senior civil servant. An internal investigation found no grounds for disciplinary action.
Earlier this year the government recruited for an HR lead for special advisers.