East Lothian Council worker’s hunger strike threat

Theresa Sives, pictured with two grandchildren, pledged to starve herself. Picture: Deadline
Theresa Sives, pictured with two grandchildren, pledged to starve herself. Picture: Deadline
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A SACKED council worker has threatened to starve herself to death in protest at a legal bill she says would force her family out of their home.

Theresa Sives has been starving herself for 11 days and lost a stone after her former employers at East Lothian Council decided to go to court to seize £200,000.

The 57-year-old was sacked after claiming money for treating drug addicts was being siphoned to other projects. Mrs Sives then lost an employment tribunal, the cost of which the council is demanding from her.

Yesterday she said she would “rather die” than be forced to sell her Musselburgh, East Lothian, home.

She added: “Eventually this happens to all whistleblowers.”

Mrs Sives, who has eaten no solid food since 30 March, posts a regular diary on YouTube in which she urges supporters to sign a petition.

The dispute started when she was working as a £31,000-a-year project manager helping drug addicts to find work. She was sacked for gross misconduct in 2013 after she claimed there had been mismanagement of funds. A subsequent employment ­tribunal case was thrown out following a 19-month battle.

A court case due to be heard later this month will decide whether or not to grant East ­Lothian Council’s costs application.

Asked whether she was willing to die for her cause, Mrs Sives said: “Yes. Absolutely.”

She added: “I would rather die than lose our house to the council. We’ve lived here for 30 years — there is no way we will leave our home for anyone.”

She said there was “no other course of action left”.

“I’m really, really tired,” she said. “Sore all over. It changes day to day. Some days I find myself looking at magazine pictures of food. Some days you’re just tired.

“I’ve lost about a stone.”

Her hunger protest started at 7am on 30 March.

She has called for more protection in law for whistleblowers adding: “I can’t believe people all over the UK have been treated like this.”

Mrs Sives alleged to her bosses that grants from the Big Lottery and East Lothian Drugs and Alcohol Partnership did not appear directly in her projects account. She claimed money instead went into a museum fund and was “siphoned off to a different project to cover something completely different”.

A council spokeswoman said: “East Lothian Council thoroughly investigated Ms Sives’ allegations as part of a disciplinary process but could find no evidence for her claims.

“Following an appeal hearing Ms Sives then took her claims to an employment tribunal who dismissed her case and awarded costs to the council.

“The legal action over a period of years has amounted to significant public costs which East ­Lothian Council is now seeking to recover as it would in any other action.”

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