Sackable offences: When push comes to shove – the elbow in all its savage guises

General Stanley McChrystal's recent sacking was brief and brutal. Even before his comments in Rolling Stone about President Obama and his aides hit the newsstands, he was summoned to the White House. General McChrystal was told not even to bother returning to Afghanistan to say farewell. He's not the first, nor likely the last, to be sacked, publicly, without any softening of the blow. Here are some others:

Former staff of Lehman Brothers, 2008

When Christian Meissner, former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, fired a group of several hundred staff, he was blunt. "It's over," he told them, adding, "Some people were more to blame than others." When one hapless banker asked if his shares in the company would be worth anything, Meissner replied: "I wonder how well you did in your accountancy exams."

Graham Cole, Actor, 2009

Graham Cole, 57, was a familiar face on British television for 25 years as The Bill's PC Tony Stamp. Cole was en route from a family funeral when he was booted over the phone. "They even asked me to say I'd left by mutual consent," he told a sympathetic reporter. "I may have to sign on. I can't tell you how disrespected I feel."

Chelsea Taylor, Waitress, 2010

The 16-year-old waitress was cruelly sacked from her Saturday job via Facebook. Elaine Sutton, the manager of Cookies-In-Leigh, Manchester, fired off a brutal dismissal letter littered with errors to Chelsea Taylor's public Facebook page writing "call in the week with your uniform. xx".

Astrologer to The Sun, 1984

The Sun's editor Kelvin MacKenzie did not take kindly to apparent proof that Justin Toper, the paper's astrologer, was recycling predictions on a quarterly basis. MacKenzie is reported to have fired off a dismissal missive, starting: "As you will no doubt have foreseen... you're fired." The recipient had no idea it was coming.

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