July 03, 2007

Utterly Completely Useless - Part 2

Dear Sally (UCU leader), Jenny (regional UCU official) and Hamish (UCU legal official),

I am writing to each of you today to ask for your assistance in seeking justice in a matter that I believe has important implications for all UCU members.

As you may already know, I have fallen victim to acts of criminal witness intimidation, in violation of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, at the hands of Mr Donald Beaton, University Secretary of Kingston University, and have more recently learned that Prof Peter Scott, Vice-Chancellor of the University in all likelihood, ordered Mr Beaton to commit these rather serious and troubling acts on his behalf.

All evidence points to guilt on the part of these individuals, who are, quite shockingly, members of senior management, however, unfortunately, a number of events have prevented them from being held to account for their actions. Moreover, they/the University have not denied that these individuals have committed the acts in question, as there is, in my view, rather compelling documentary evidence to support a conviction on these charges.

The only justification or explanation that has thus far been offered by the University's lawyers, who have represented Mr Beaton following his indictment by the Magistrates' Court on 20 April 2007, is that while the acts in question, if committed in connection with a civil or criminal matter in a wide range of "relevant proceedings" (e.g. County Court, High Court, Crown Court, Magistrates' Court, etc) would be illegal, the Act does not explicitly list Employment Tribunal proceedings under the set of "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the Act. In other words, according to the University's solicitors, committing witness intimidation in connection with ongoing Employment Tribunal proceedings, does not amount to a criminal act because Employment Tribunal proceedings are not "relevant proceedings."

The effect of this view, if it were to be upheld as a matter of law, is to create an "open season" on claimants and respondents alike with respect to such proceedings, as in effect, witness intimidation would become legal in Employment Tribunal cases.

What has since transpired is that a hearing was held on 10 May 2007 before a District Judge, Hon. Stephen Day. Judge Day wisely ruled that the case should be continued in anticipation of the possibility that the matter would be taken up by the CPS for prosecution. He also ruled that were the CPS to take the case and were they to then decide to drop it for any reason, my wife and I could take the case back as a private prosecution, which is how it was launched in the first instance.

This week, the CPS notified us that they had, indeed, decided to take on the case, but that they had decided to drop the matter altogether on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence, since, in their view, Employment Tribunal proceedings did not constitute "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the Act. To my surprise and dismay, I learned today at a hearing before the Court, that we would not simply be able to take the matter back to continue it as a private prosecution, but that it would be formally ended.

As I understand things, our only viable option would be to refile the matter as a private prosecution before the County Court. In discussing our options with my Branch Rep, (Name deleted) who so kindly attended today's court proceedings and who was extremely supportive of my efforts to seek justice in this rather extraordinary matter, (name deleted) felt that one possibility would be to file a petition with the County Court for a District Judge to hear arguments as to why Employment Tribunals should, as a matter of law, be considered to be "relevant proceedings" for the purposes of the act, notwithstanding the fact that such proceedings are not explicitly referenced, on the grounds that Parliament must surely have intended for witness intimidation to be a crime for such in such a clearly bona fide civil proceeding as an Employment Tribunal case, and that it could not possibly have been their intention for witness intimidation to, in effect, be legal in such proceedings. Following a positive ruling on that, he suggested that we could then launch a private prosecution on the matter, having already achieved a clear view on whether such proceedings constitute "relevant proceedings" in respect of the intentions of Parliament, and therefore as a matter of law. Thus we would file to separate actions in sequence, the first being to decide matters of law and the second to decide whether or not the facts then suggest that Mr Beaton and Prof Scott had, indeed, committed illegal acts as set forth in the allegations.

This seems to me like a reasonable set of steps, though given that the case is relatively simple and given that following (name deleted)'s suggested course of action would likely take more time to pursue, it might very well be that both steps could be accomplished in one case, namely a private prosecution, part of which could be devoted to first establishing the matters of law, and then the case could continue along to deal with matters of guilt or innocence.

In the end, I would certainly be open to either possibility as a course of action, but in all instances, I feel so strongly that a serious injustice has taken place, and that if allowed to stand, this case will set precedent in respect of any FE/HE employer (or employee) being able to resort to witness intimidation in Employment Tribunal cases with total impunity. That will mean that witnesses in such cases will feel reluctant to come forward and that important and compelling evidence, (such as that which Kingston University has attempted to suppress), of wrongdoing will be prevented from seeing the light of day, thereby depriving UCU members of their right to have their concerns properly aired before a Court of Law.

I am therefore asking each of you to consider seriously the matters at stake in this case in respect of their potential and likely impacts on all UCU members now and in the future. And I am asking that you take appropriate action to support me in pursuing this case further in the Courts so that the rights of UCU members to be free from intimidation in Employment Tribunal cases is preserved.

Specifically, I am taking the unusual step of formally requesting legal support and or any other support that UCU can provide so that this matter can be taken forward, since there will, indeed, be costs (albeit, hopefully not excessive costs) involved in pursuing this matter vigorously. I do realize that such support is not normally provided as part of UCU's Legal Assistance Scheme, and I am not specifically requesting such support under this scheme. Rather, I am asking that UCU consider providing support under whatever auspices it feels are appropriate under the circumstances.

Again, I believe this to be an unusual and important case, one that is worthy of being supported by UCU on behalf of all of its members, and so I therefore urge you to support my efforts. I look forward to your prompt written response to my request for support and to receiving whatever support you feel that UCU can offer.

Please feel free, as well, to forward my letter to any other UCU officials whom you think would need to see such a request for support so that it can be duly considered. I would also urge you to speak with (Branch Rep), who has seen the relevant evidence in this case, in order to gain directly his valuable insights on the matter.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Dr Howard Fredrics, UCU Member.
Letter written on 22 June 2007. To date, Dr Howard has not received a reply.


Anonymous said...

Digusting how they collude with the employer those union rep's

Ruhannah Y said...

i am astonished at the arrogance of these 3 people in leadership roles with the UCU. No wonder the unpaid union reps and the regional reps too, are utterly useless. In fact, the whole edifice of the UCU is corrupt, and need to be exposed as such, by members. seems the managers and the unions reps are working hand in glove to provide insult and injury , whilst the feathering of their own nests goes on unabated.
Ah well, when we see them licking the arses of dictators like the Gaddafis, how naive of us to expect them to have any integrity