MYSTERY surrounds the departure of one of Wiltshire Council’s highest-paid employees who left the authority last week after months on leave.

Corporate director Maggie Rae had been absent from her role for the past three months after being signed off work with what the Wiltshire Times reported were ‘stress-related issues’.

The 60-year-old was responsible for services delivering adult social care and public health together with responsibility for housing, communities and public protection.

Her workload was being shared by director of children’s services Carolyn Godfrey and Carlton Brand, corporate director for economic development and regeneration.

She was also the director of Wiltshire Public Health and worked with GPs on public health issues.

Wiltshire Council said: “We can confirm that Mrs Maggie Rae is leaving her employment as corporate director with the council with effect from September 30, 2016.

“The council wishes Mrs Rae well for the future.”

Wiltshire Council refused to confirm whether she had remained on full pay, believed to be up to £148,271 a year.

A spokesman said: “We do not comment on individual members of staff.”

In June 2014, Mrs Rae defended the fact that many top council executives are paid more than the prime minister – with the PM at the time, David Cameron, earning £142,500 a year.

When she was quizzed by MPs at a Parliamentary hearing on senior pay, she claimed it was a struggle to fill senior council positions with the best staff even at high salaries.

She said: “We’re paying middle-range salaries while at the same time we have an ambition to be the most excellent council, and we are struggling to get staff into jobs even at those salaries because people can earn much more money in the private sector.”

Mrs Rae took over the corporate director role in 2013 at Wiltshire Council after social services boss Sue Redmond took voluntary redundancy and the council merged public health and adult social care.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, a fellow of the Faculty of Public Health and head of school of Public Health, South West Region, Severn Postgraduate Medical Education and a governor of the Prior Schools Foundation.