Family ‘destroyed’ by Saatchi decision

The wife of former Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi creative director Mike Austin, who was allegedly dismissed by the agency just two weeks after suffering a severe stroke, claims her family’s life has been “destroyed” by the decision.

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By  Steve Wrelton Published  June 4, 2006

The wife of former Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi creative director Mike Austin, who was allegedly dismissed by the agency just two weeks after suffering a severe stroke, claims her family’s life has been “destroyed” by the decision. Mike Austin suffered the stroke on 27 November last year and has been left paralysed down one side and unable to speak. A fortnight later the 47-year-old received a letter from Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi bosses informing him that despite “considerable anguish” there were “certain inevitable commercial decisions” that meant he could no longer work for the agency. The letter said the firm had been “compelled” to act under Bahrani law which it claims provides for the ending of employment due to disability. Less than two months later it is claimed that the agency notified the property agent of the Austin’s house to terminate the lease. The family has moved back to the UK and has since launched legal proceedings against Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi in Bahrain. Lesley Austin told Campaign: “I cannot believe the cruelty of it. I did not know if my husband would live or die. Our lives had been destroyed and we were told that we were on our own — it’s obscene.” Khamis Al Muqla, chairman of Gulf Saatchi & Saatchi and president of the IAA Bahrain Chapter, denied the Austin’s allegation that the creative director had been sacked. He said: “We have not sacked Mike or stopped his house. This is not true at all. ” A statement from Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA said: “Mike Austin was an employee of Gulf Advertising in Bahrain, the operator of an advertising agency licensed to use the name Saatchi & Saatchi. The network has been monitoring Mr Austin’s situation closely, although Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA has no control over Gulf Advertising’s HR policies.”

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