Expelled, disabled member seeks help to bring McNicol to judge-ordered mediation


Disability activist Rick Burgess

Labour member Rick Burgess rejoined the party at the beginning of 2016, inspired by the party’s vision under its leader Jeremy Corbyn – and just missed the retrospective cut-off date imposed by the Labour National Executive Committee (NEC) to be able to vote in the 2016 leadership contest. So he paid the supporter’s fee £25 (increased controversially from the £3 fee the previous year) to be able to vote.

This was no small step – and no small sum – for Rick, who is disabled and also cares for his mum, who suffers from Alzheimers and vascular dementia. Rick himself has been ‘through the mill’ of multiple and punitive disability assessments.

The Labour and social justice movements owe a lot to Rick. He co-founded the WOW Petition which, led by comedian Francesca Martinez, was signed by over 104,000 people and made history by being the first motion brought to the main chamber of the British parliament by disabled people. Despite winning the vote the current government still refuses to abide by the motion.

Rick built on the success of the petition to co-found ‘New Approach’, which laid out a practical path for the government to abolish the widely-condemned ‘work capability assessment’ and co-founded Manchester Disabled People’s Assembly.

He was then summarily expelled from the Labour Party during last year’s second ‘purge‘ of pro-Corbyn members – even though Labour General Secretary Iain McNicol has since told Labour employees that trawling social media for disciplinary reasons is a breach of the Data Protection Act – for a tweet quoting words from a serious article by a former UK ambassador:


Rick wasn’t calling anyone vermin, or even Blairite – the article and the tweet about it referred to the words on a t-shirt worn by an elderly man at a rally. The SKWAWKBOX also published an article on this man and the reality was nothing like the ‘moderates’ portrayed it.

When Rick’s appeal and explanations were ignored, he decided to go to small claims court to try to retrieve his £25 supporter fee – since it cost him £25 to do so this was about the principle, not about the money. Here’s what happened next, in his own words:

I wrote to the Party asking for an appeal, no response ever came. So I lodged a small claim to recover the £25 the party took from me yet denied me a vote. Lodging the claim cost £25 so this not about money but principle.

The claim was put on the mediation track which I agreed to but at the last moment Mr McNicol refused to attend mediation.

The claim then was examined by District Judge Mauger who referred the matter back to another attempt at mediation which again I agree to. I wrote to Iain McNicol and his solicitors showing my willingness to mediate. There has been no reply.

I hope by writing this open letter that Mr McNicol responds by attending mediation. However a court date in London for Friday 28th July has been set by District Judge Mauger should mediation fail (costing another £25 court fee, I am a disabled carer on a fixed low income).

So I am appealing to any readers with legal expertise to contact me through the blog if they fancy lending a hand, in case the offer of mediation is refused.

Rick Burgess

If you’re in a position to offer help with Rick’s fight to force Labour’s bureaucracy to be accountable for its behaviour, please contact him via his website. You might just open a door for tens of thousands of unfairly-treated members to get some kind of justice and recompense as well.

The SKWAWKBOX is provided free of charge but depends on the generosity of its readers to be viable – in spite of mainstream media libels to the contrary, this blog runs on coffee and a shoestring. If you can afford to, please click here to arrange a one-off or modest monthly donation via PayPal. Thanks for your support so this blog can keep bringing you information the Establishment would prefer you not to know about.


  1. Mcnicol…Showing tories how treatment of the disabled’s done :/

    As (An able-bodied) carer meself, I wish Rick all the very best. Lad’s a star turn for refusing to be silenced or cowed by the wannabe tyrants.

    I’d have thought if mediation was refused again, then the judge’d have no option but to find in Rick’s favour at the next hearing. Evidently Rick’s done all he can to settle the disgrace – sorry, ‘matter’ – amicably.

    Oh, and by the way, the likes of mcnicol are lower than vermin in my book. Breaching the DPA in order to conduct his & his cronies’ proscriptions…Rodents.

  2. Rick Burgess is a hero. The system is so rigged against us, justice is just a dream at the moment. Hope he finds the help he needs.


  4. Rick may already know this but I understand from a retired solicitor that to take this forward, he would need a public law solicitor who is currently in practice and possibly a pro bono counsel. Depending on Rick’s circumstances, he might have to pay for this professional support because of the Government’s severe restrictions on access to Legal Aid. If this were the case then crowd funding might be a possible way forward. Justice for all?

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: