The sacked children’s mental health tsar has compared her dismissal by the Government to something to something farcical out of sitcom The Thick Of It.
Outspoken Natasha Devon was let go from her unpaid role in May after she publicly claimed that the Tories own policies were likely to worsen children’s mental health - the issue her appointment was meant to generate publicity for.
Last week, she obtained all the emails sent by the Department for Education about her work with them and her dismissal.
Devon revealed on Monday it was “so The Thick Of It” - the sitcom that mocked the contradictions and absurdities of Whitehall and Wesminster - as she appeared on LBC.
She read out loud one of the emails that said: “Obviously we don’t want to make it look like she was got rid of because she criticised, but equally it cannot be conceivable that she carries on when she criticises.”
That email was written in March, two months before she was dismissed. Other emails expressed alarm that Devon was saying things that were “damaging”.
The emails Devon obtained also revealed that the DfE mooted replacing her with a group of teenagers.
“The reason they were going to do that is not because they were trying to give young people a legitimate but because, if I then objected to it, they could say ‘well Natasha Devon obviously doesn’t care as much about young people as she says she does’,” Devon claimed.
She told LBC’s James O’Brien that the DfE tried to stop her commenting on forcing schools to become academies. She has described her former role as “largely tokenistic, meaningless”.
Devon said subjects that could serve as “coping mechanisms” for children such as music, PE and PSHE had suffered amid budget cuts and were “squished out of the cirriculum”.
She said: “I actually wrote to [then-Education Secretary] Michael Gove in 2011 and said these reforms will herald a crisis in young people’s mental health and then low and behold, in 2015, that was acknowledged.”