Wrongful dismissal case brought by Roger Cook’s ex-staffer Sanja Spasojevic delayed further

Hannah CrossSound Telegraph
Sanja Spasojevic was an electorate officer for Roger Cook until she was sacked in July 2020.
Camera IconSanja Spasojevic was an electorate officer for Roger Cook until she was sacked in July 2020. Credit: Daniel Wilkins/The West Australian

The unfair dismissal case brought by Deputy Premier Roger Cook’s former staffer has been delayed further in what Sanja Spasojevic believes is an attempt to have the matter heard after the Federal election.

Ms Spasojevic was scheduled to face the WA Industrial Relations Commission’s Public Service Appeals Board on May 4 with her wrongful dismissal claim after she was sacked from her long-held position at Mr Cook’s Kwinana electorate office in July 2020.

But the hearing was again delayed after the State Solicitor’s Office entered new evidence. Ms Spasojevic’s case is now scheduled for July 4, well after the May 21 Federal election.

Ms Spasojevic, who spent nine years as a senior electorate officer for Mr Cook, maintains the dismissal was out of the blue when a human resources manager called to tell her Mr Cook didn’t want her working for him anymore due to a “breakdown in trust”.

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The popular Labor staffer, who is highly regarded by politicians including Premier Mark McGowan and outgoing Governor Kim Beazley, was accused of failing to submit a leave form for time off during the previous Christmas period.

Sanja Spasojevic with Mark McGowan
Camera IconSanja Spasojevic with Mark McGowan. Credit: n/a/Supplied

But Ms Spasojevic maintains it was customary for Mr Cook and other State Labor MPs to tear up leave forms she and her colleagues submitted to give electorate staff a seasonal break in acknowledgement of all the after-hours meetings and functions they attended.

The Deputy Premier was facing the prospect of interrogation under oath about the sacking but Attorney-General John Quigley intervened on behalf of the State in a bizarre move the same day Ms Spasojevic’s appeal was due to begin.

The former Labor staffer had applied to subpoena Mr Cook and several former colleagues and MPs for the appeal.

Mr Quigley questioned the power of the Public Service Appeals Board to summons people to give evidence despite the Board’s history of summonsing people in such cases.

The Attorney-General’s intervention pushed the case back several months and the SSO has most recently attempted to block large swathes of evidence from Ms Spasojevic’s case.

“First they block my subpoenas for Roger Cook and other MPs and then they block my witnesses and try to block a large portion of my evidence,” Ms Spasojevic told the Sound Telegraph.

“They are trying to narrow the scope as much as possible so that the bullying, harassment and intimidation . . . or my impeccable employment history is not included.”

Ms Spasojevic also alleges that during her time at Mr Cook’s office, he wrote inappropriate notes about her appearance on office documents.

In a diary page dated June 2018, seen by the Sound Telegraph, “stared at Sanja’s tits” is written in the notes section of the page.

“That (was) awful and embarrassing for me,” Ms Spasojevic said.

Sanja Spasojevic with Roger Cook.
Camera IconSanja Spasojevic with Roger Cook. Credit: n/a/Supplied

She said the SSO has “tried their utmost” to prevent the appeal from going ahead.

“They’ve continually brought up issue after issue after issue . . . they’ve put up blocks for me to not go to trial,” she said.

Ms Spasojevic says she still hasn’t heard from Mr Cook almost two years after her surprise sacking, even though she had worked for him for almost a decade and was a regular guest at her house.

“I did send him an email in February just imploring him to do the right thing, to talk to my lawyers to clarify the leave issue,” she said.

“But nothing.”

Now all Ms Spasojevic is hoping for is the truth to come out.

“I think the truth will come out. I think no matter how hard they will try, the truth will always come out,” she said.

Mr Cook’s office declined to comment.

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