A police dog handler has won £9,000 for 'injury to feelings' at a tribunal after being separated from the dog she had trained.
PC Katherine Keohane was also awarded £2,584 for loss of overtime as compensation, in a decision which "takes the biscuit" according to The Taxpayers Alliance.
Metropolitan Police chiefs re-allocated the dog, named Nunki Pippin, away from PC Keohane when the officer fell pregnant in October 2010. Scotland Yard bosses claimed Nunki was needed because of a shortage of police dogs, and there were concerns because the dog had been inactive for nine months during her handler's previous pregnancy.
However PC Keohane sued for direct pregnancy discrimination, claiming injury to feelings and that the move hit her earning potential as a drugs dog handler.
A tribunal heard that PC Keohane's mental state was badly affected by the loss of her dog. Witnesses detailed a 999 call from a member of the public, reporting she was in distress on a train.
However Robert Oxley, speaking on behalf of the Taxpayers Alliance, claimed that a police dog "isn't a pet" and is in "a valuable resource in the fight against crime and should be treated as such.
"This kind of ludicrous compensation pay-out is yet another example of a creeping compensation culture that is undermining the hard work of the vast majority of officers."
Compensation payments by public bodies have long raised eye-brows in certain quarters, when apparently innocuous incidents result in sizable awards from public coffers.
Last year, the Sun published a selection of workplace incidents which proved costly for UK taxpayers. Here is a selection of the most egregious:
- A worker suffered emotional distress after getting trapped in a lift and sued. A payout totalling £1,500 was made by Newcastle Under Lyme council.
- In Telford, a gravedigger won £1,500 after falling into an open grave.
- A man who tumbled into a skip came out £16,549 richer, after suing Cookstown District Council for bruising.
- In Lancashire, a teacher won £5,500 from the county council after falling out of bed to answer a work call.
- A lost toe nail proved highly lucrative for one employee of Dacorum Borough Council, who won £7,750 when a pool table collapsed on their foot.
- In Wales, carrying six tins of baked beans triggered a back injury in one council employee - followed by a £3,500 compensation pay-out.
- A teacher who injured their thumb using the school guillotine pocketed £9,065 from London's Islington Council.
- A street cleaner sued for getting dust in his eye while operating a machine in Teignbridge. The council handed over £16,549 as a result.
- In Birmingham, an overweight worker who damaged a toilet by sitting on won £1,750 for their injuries.