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Unite threatens legal action against Skwawkbox for reporting abuse allegations

Skwawkbox stands by its journalism, despite threat received in belated ‘request for comment’ reply

The Unite union regime has belatedly responded to a Skwawkbox request for comment (RFC), on allegations of abuse by the union’s management toward one of the union’s most senior officers in Ireland and a recent cancer sufferer, with a legal threat framed as a response to the RFC.

Skwawkbox revealed this afternoon that the wife of senior regional officer Brendan Ogle had published a Facebook post accusing the union of trying to coerce Mr Ogle into accepting what amounts to a demotion – and ‘freezing him out’ of his activities with the Right2Water campaign against water charges in Ireland, as well as from other duties, leading to an angry response from union members in that nation. The quotes in the article were included in the RFC in full, in keeping with standard journalistic practice.

More than an hour and a half after the deadline for publication, Unite’s press office responded – not with a denial of Mandy La Combre’s allegations, but with the following:

A Unite spokesperson said: “Over recent months Skwawkbox has made a series of false allegations against Unite, for reasons they are well aware of. Accordingly, Unite has now started legal action to deal with this. Skwawkbox has faced legal proceedings previously for similar unfounded allegations.”

Skwawkbox’s output regarding Unite ‘over recent months’ primarily consists of articles supporting Unite members against bad employers, or against betrayals by the Labour party’s right-wing leadership. In the last month, the site has had to cover a number of items concerning either Sharon Graham personally – an analysis of critical comments by Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL), which had backed Ms Graham in the Unite general secretary election, and reports that she had banned Unite representatives from supporting or quoting the ‘Enough is Enough‘ campaign – or the behaviour of Unite’s senior management in general.

The article about the conduct of Unite’s senior management was published today – to cover the allegations posted by Ms La Combre. In all cases where appropriate, Unite has been contacted for comment – including the article about Ms Graham’s alleged ban on Enough is Enough and today’s article about Brendan Ogle’s treatment – and any responses have been published in full, including the one above.

Skwawkbox stands by its journalism.

Meanwhile, outrage about the Brendan Ogle situation has continued, including a statement from community activist supporters of the Right2Water campaign that they will no longer work with Unite:

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