Colchester: Tribunal bid against MP fails

A CASE of sexual discrimination and breach of contract brought against an Essex MP by a former employee has been thrown out by a judge at a pre-trial hearing.

Former part-time case worker John Scott, 66, of Ballast Quay, Fingringhoe, has failed in his bid to take Colchester MP Bob Russell to a full tribunal over his dismissal in June, 2009.

Mr Scott, who worked for two days a week at the constituency office in Magdalen Hall, Colchester, told a pre-hearing review that he had become the victim of “playground behaviour” from female colleagues working in Mr Russell’s office.

He told the hearing in Bury St Edmunds that he had been ignored and had not been allowed to help constituents, despite being employed as a case worker.

But in his verdict Judge David Skinner struck out the claim on the grounds that the case would have no reasonable chance of success at a full employment tribunal.

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“In bringing and conducting these procedures the claimant has acted vexatiously and unreasonably,” he said.

“The claimant issued proceedings on a flimsy basis and has pursued them in tendentious and prolix fashion, indifferent to case management.

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“Justice is not served by allowing them to be rehearsed at an inevitably lengthy hearing with no realistic prospect of success. We will strike out all claims.”

Mr Russell had told the pre-hearing review that he had dismissed Mr Scott after he received a phone call from a distressed member of his staff, case worker Claire Beedell, who said she had been confronted in an aggressive way by the claimant.

“The tribunal’s decision is a total vindication of the action I took in dismissing Mr Scott following the incident with Miss Beedell,” said Mr Russell.

“It is a huge weight off not only my mind, but also my small team of staff who have been dismayed by a case which has been hanging over us for nearly 20 months.

“Dealing with this case has occupied countless hours, and has disrupted my office and my diary.

“Hopefully, with such a clear judgment which completely vindicates me, my office and I can now put this episode behind us, and we can get on with our lives without further disruption.”

Mr Russell estimates that the cost to the public purse of the three-day pre-hearing review to be about �25,000.

Mr Scott, a former manager at the Inland Revenue, could be required to pay the MP’s legal costs of about �10,000. He says he intends to appeal the decision.

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