Deputy harbourmaster sacked two days after wife’s funeral

Grieving deputy harbourmaster, 56, is sacked just two days after his wife’s funeral ‘for mooring his boat in the wrong berth’

  • Jeremy Butcher, 56, had email from his bosses two days after his wife’s funeral
  • He was sacked immediately because he had moored his boat in the wrong berth
  • His friends are now campaigning to reinstate him as the deputy harbourmaster 

A grieving deputy harbourmaster was left ‘broken’ when he was sacked two days after his wife’s funeral because he had moored his boat in the wrong berth.

Jeremy Butcher, 56, received an email from Yarmouth Harbour Commisioners on the Isle of Wight while he was on compassionate leave.

He was dismissed with immediate effect by email on November 23 last year – two days after his wife’s funeral. 

Jeremy Butcher with wife Sarah Butcher on their wedding day – she passed away last year after being diagnosed with terminal cancer

Mr Butcher is a former top Metropolitan Police detective sergeant and lost his wife Sarah after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

He said being sacked for alleged gross misconduct had left him ‘broken at a time when he is already vulnerable.’ 

Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners on the Isle of Wight claim Mr Butcher, who became deputy harbourmaster in September 2014, moored his boat in an incorrect berth. 

Mr Butcher had bought the boat in the months before his wife’s death ‘knowing their time together was precious’.   

Known as ‘Jez’, he is taking Yarmouth Harbour Commissioners to an employment tribunal and a campaign called ‘Justice 4 Jez’ has been launched to reinstate him as deputy harbourmaster.

His friend Della Phillips launched the campaign and says she is ‘disgusted’ at the way Mr Butcher, from Yarmouth, has been treated.

Mr Butcher, 56, was sacked by his bosses two days after his wife’s funeral because he moored his boat in the wrong berth

She said: ‘At that time [when Mr Butcher was sacked], Jez had been signed off by his doctor, understandably so.

‘Nevertheless, rather than the Commissioners showing some compassion and understanding, they decided to email him with a confirmation of dismissal, dismissing him with immediate effect.

‘I am disgusted that a person can be treated this way.

‘The timing of this situation was very cruel. How can anyone contemplate doing such a thing only two days after Sarah’s funeral?

‘It has broken him at a time when he is already vulnerable.

‘I am doing this for Sarah, just as much as I am for Jez and I know she will be right behind me.’

Mr Butcher said: ‘I am still grieving for Sarah and this has not given me an opportunity to deal with it properly, so I am not that strong at the moment.

‘But I spent 31 years in the police putting wrongs right, so I fully support what’s going on with this campaign [to support him] and I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what I have.

‘I am taking this to tribunal because I feel it should be out in the open, so people know exactly what happened and to allow me to keep my dignity.’

Yarmouth Harbour said it would be defending the claims at the tribunal.

Tim Adams, chief executive and harbourmaster of Yarmouth Harbour, said: ‘The harbour is fully aware of the Facebook and Twitter posts by Mr Butcher’s friends regarding their belief he was unfairly dismissed.

‘It is, of course, open to Mr Butcher to pursue a claim in this regard via the employment tribunal system, and this is what we understand he has done.

‘It will now be up to the tribunal to decide whether or not the harbour has acted fairly.

‘It would be inappropriate for us to to comment further.’

Mr Butcher was a member of the Met Police for 31 years, receiving a number of commendations and ‘led a team of highly specialised and dedicated officers working in challenging and often dangerous environments’.

Mrs Butcher was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013 and passed away aged 56 on October 30, 2017.

Ms Phillips said the pair bought a boat together around six months before her death so they could enjoy their time together.

She said: ‘In May 2017, Jez and Sarah bought their current boat, which Sarah found and persuaded Jez to buy, which of course he did, knowing that their time together was precious.

‘Sarah loved the boat and spent many happy times on board with Jez and her friends.’ 

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