Barrister confirms expulsion unlawful – Labour compliance unit ‘incompetent’

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Last night the SKWAWKBOX publicised the story of Clare Ayton-Edwards, a 70-year-old disabled woman who was expelled from the Labour Party after decades of membership for a single tweet in support of George Galloway’s General Election candidacy in the Manchester seat of Gorton – a tweet send during a severe bipolar episode.

Barrister Duncan Shipley-Dalton contacted this blog with clarifications that confirmed the party’s actions in ignoring Clare’s mental health issues to expel her were unlawful – and attacked the ‘incompetence’ of Labour’s Compliance Unit:

As per usual the Legal and Governance Unit seem to be demonstrating their normal level of competence by being around 7 years out of date. The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was repealed in whole by Schedule 27 of the Equality Act 2010. It is no longer legally in force. The relevant legislation is now the Equality Act 2010.

Disability is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010. The general provisions impose a duty not to discriminate either directly or indirectly. I think a relevant provision in Clare’s case would be at section 19:

19 Indirect discrimination
(1) A person (A) discriminates against another (B) if A applies to B a provision, criterion or practice which is discriminatory in relation to a relevant protected characteristic of B’s.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a provision, criterion or practice is discriminatory in relation to a relevant protected characteristic of B’s if—
(a) A applies, or would apply, it to persons with whom B does not share the characteristic,
(b) it puts, or would put, persons with whom B shares the characteristic at a particular disadvantage when compared with persons with whom B does not share it,
(c) it puts, or would put, B at that disadvantage, and
(d) A cannot show it to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.
(3) The relevant protected characteristics are—
·         age;
·         disability;
·         gender reassignment;
·         marriage and civil partnership;
·         race;
·         religion or belief;
·         sex;
·         sexual orientation.

It seems to me a reasonable argument can be made that s.19(2)(b) would apply as putting Clare at a particular disadvantage as compared to a person who does not share her disability. This could amount to indirect discrimination by the Labour Party rendering the actions in expelling her both contractually unenforceable and a breach of the Equality Act 2010. The Labour Party has under s.20 and schedule 15 a duty to make reasonable adjustments for a person with a protected characteristic. The Equality Act 2010 is applied to associations at Part 7, s.100 and this includes political parties. The relevant section on membership is at s.101:

101 Members and associates
(1) An association (A) must not discriminate against a person (B)—
(a) in the arrangements A makes for deciding who to admit to membership;
(b) as to the terms on which A is prepared to admit B to membership;
(c) by not accepting B’s application for membership.
(2) An association (A) must not discriminate against a member (B)—
(a) in the way A affords B access, or by not affording B access, to a benefit, facility or service;
(b) by depriving B of membership;
(c) by varying B’s terms of membership;
(d) by subjecting B to any other detriment.
(3) An association (A) must not discriminate against an associate (B)—
(a) in the way A affords B access, or by not affording B access, to a benefit, facility or service;
(b) by depriving B of B’s rights as an associate;
(c) by varying B’s rights as an associate;
(d) by subjecting B to any other detriment.
(4) An association must not harass
(a) a member;
(b) a person seeking to become a member;
(c) an associate.
(5) An association (A) must not victimise a person (B)—
(a) in the arrangements A makes for deciding who to admit to membership;
(b) as to the terms on which A is prepared to admit B to membership;
(c) by not accepting B’s application for membership.
(6) An association (A) must not victimise a member (B)—
(a) in the way A affords B access, or by not affording B access, to a benefit, facility or service;
(b) by depriving B of membership;
(c) by varying B’s terms of membership;
(d) by subjecting B to any other detriment.
(7) An association (A) must not victimise an associate (B)—
(a) in the way A affords B access, or by not affording B access, to a benefit, facility or service;
(b) by depriving B of B’s rights as an associate;
(c) by varying B’s rights as an associate;
(d) by subjecting B to any other detriment.

So clearly the question of the removal of membership of the Labour Party is within the terms of the Equality Act 2010 and applies to the actions taken. The question would seem to be whether in Clare’s case was the removal of her membership done without making reasonable adjustment for her protected characteristic (disability) such that it placed her at a disadvantage compared to a member who did not share that characteristic? If the answer is yes then clearly the Labour Party has unlawfully expelled her and is in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The expulsion is therefore not contractually valid as it is unlawful. The question of whether the party made reasonable adjustment is a bit of a judgment call but considering they appear to have made no adjustment whatsoever and are still labouring under the misapprehension that a 7 year repealed piece of legislation is the appropriate law then they may have difficulty in demonstrating that reasonable adjustment was made.

On another point: the 5-year ban is unlawful in my view. The alleged offence is under Chapter 2, Clause I, section 4 (B) which references Chapter 6 I, 2. This section states that a 5 year ban is to be applied to an offence under Chapter 2,4, A. It makes no reference to Chapter 2, 4, B.

My view is that no contractual power exists under this sub clause of Chapter 6 to impose a 5 year ban for a breach of the sub clause at Chapter 2, 4, B and in doing so the NEC is exceeding its contractual discretion and is acting ultra vires. However in Clare’s case this is a minor point against the far more serious indirect discrimination she has suffered.

The current legislation, if anything, makes the case even clearer: by making no allowance for Clare’s mental health issues, about which she clearly informed the party, Labour’s HQ has acted unlawfully by making, or at the least by not lifting, her expulsion.

The whole way in which the Compliance Unit has handled suspensions and expulsions is extremely problematic – but the way in which it has treated at least one disabled member is deeply disturbing and to ignore her repeated pleas for help when she has advised them that she is prone to suicidal thoughts when depressed is deplorable.

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12 responses to “Barrister confirms expulsion unlawful – Labour compliance unit ‘incompetent’

  1. Pingback: Barrister confirms expulsion unlawful – Labour compliance unit ‘incompetent’ | Jaffer's blog·

  2. Not just Clare’s but the vast majority of the suspensions and expulsions were almost certainly a spiteful attempt by the Compliance Unit – read Iain McNicol, to prevent Corbyn supporters from voting. This has to be one of the most shameful episodes in Labour’s history and for that, McNicol should be sacked.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Clearly her expulsion should be overturned, and as his last action as general secretary before collecting his P45 and heading home McNicol should be made to apologise to her in person for this treatment.

    Liked by 8 people

  4. Thank you Duncan and all concerned in this dreadful case. I know how hard you have all worked (especially in the last week) to obtain a crumb of justice in this and many other expulsions and suspensions. You make the world a better place.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Thank you for this and thank the barrister.
    How many more unlawful expulsions have there been ? And can we get them back in the Labour party.

    This is control of membership by stealth and should be both lawful and not arbitrary.

    Codes of Conduct throughout employment/professional regulation have also been deliberately created and used for this means, with no right of appeal, in breach of the rule of law and natural justice.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. And what about Blair encouraging people to vote Tory, and Mandleson doing everything in his power to get rid of the leadership? !These are far worse than this and other ordinary members tweets. Disgusting how corrupt the GS McNichol and his the compliance unit is.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. Pingback: Labour HQ unlawfully expels mentally-ill member. Ignores pleas for help | Rotherham Politics·

  8. TURNING A BLIND EYE FROM THE ISSUES OF BREAKING LABOUR RULES ON THE RIGHT IN HQ IS A TOOL THEY USE ALONG WITH IGNORANCE!
    THEY DO NOT LIKE THE LEFT WHO HAVE BECOME THEIR THORN!
    THEY ARE OBLIVIOUS TO THE TRUTH OR ANY CREDIBLE ARGUMENT THAT DOES NOT GO ALONG WITH THEIR GUIDELINES!
    LONG PASTIME THAT THE BONUS BRUSH WAS BROUGHT OUT TO DEAL WITH THEM THE ONLY WAY THEY KNOW, A CLEAN SWEEP! SUSPEND THEM FOR LIFE!
    PLEASE!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve said this before so excuse repeat. I asked Iain McNicol on Twitter why he hadn’t suspended or expelled Mr Mandelson for telling nation he gets up every morning trying to think of ways how to get rid of Mr Corbyn. To which he replied: It’s only his opinion. Gasps in horror.

    So then I asked, if that was case why did he choose to suspend two 80yo terminally ill women. No answer to that one, because there isn’t a plausible one to be given.

    We now know that Compliance Unit trawling through social media in order to find folk, THEY DEEM, to be tweeting against Labour Party, has also been found to be unlawful, under Data Protection. Therefore why is it that Labour PartyUK, NEC, Compliance Unit is still acting unlawfully? How is it the Mr McNicol, having shown RW bias, not been removed.

    It is nothing short of an utterly disgraceful way for Labour Party officials to act. Time for change and BIG change. Enough is enough.

    Like

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