An industrial tribunal in Belfast found that Dr Tamara Bronckaers had “acquired the status of nuisance” after highlighting a number of issues around animal welfare and the “deletion of moves” of cattle from the records.
Tribunal judge Orla Murray said she accepted that Dr Bronckaers – originally from Belgium but living in Co Tyrone – had a high professional standing as a veterinary surgeon and “exemplary performance and record prior to the year in issue in this case”.
The tribunal also found that the vet was “raising serious concerns squarely within her area of responsibility and expertise.”
Employment judge Murray added: “We are further satisfied that the course of conduct culminated in a last straw which led the claimant to resign in response.”
Dr Bronckaers’ solicitor John McShane, of McCartan Turkington Breen, said the final settlement against Daera could be has high as £1 million.
“Dr Bronckaers has been extremely brave in coming forward to reveal her concerns about certain practices at the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and the outcome of this case has justified those concerns,” he said.
Mr McShane added: “The situation has had a massive impact on Dr Bronckaers with her suffering detriments that have affected her family, career and financial situation.
“However she felt it was vital to do the right thing and that was to highlight the outrageous issues of animal welfare where she witnessed animals being mistreated.
“Dr Bronckaers hopes that the result of this case will encourage other people who find themselves in a similar situation to speak out.”
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