Legal proceedings formally begun in response to union management’s ‘disgraceful’ conduct toward Irish union legend
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham, her ally Tony Woodhouse and the union itself have been served with a ‘plenary summons‘, the first formal stage in legal proceedings, by the Irish High Court for defamation against by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle.
The union’s ‘disgusting’ abuse toward Ogle on his return from cancer treatment, after he made whistleblower’s ‘protected disclosures’ about the union’s adherence to covid protocols at the height of the pandemic, triggered widespread outrage among grassroots members, politicians and community groups – anger so serious that an entire sector branch threatened to disaffiliate entirely from Unite, the well-known ‘Right2Water’ campaign said it will no longer work with Unite, Unite’s Community section in Ireland condemned the ‘injustice inflicted’ on him and members picketed general secretary Sharon Graham’s long-delayed visit to Dublin last month.
The abuse also caused Ogle to lodge a tribunal complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission – Ireland’s binding statutory body under its Workplace Relations Act.
Now Ogle has begun legal action:
Skwawkbox understands that Graham, Woodhouse and Unite are being sued under the Irish Defamation Act 2009 in relation to comments made about Ogle in Malahide in September 2022 and at the Gresham in Dublin in May this year.
Separately from the legal action, the union has also been accused of starting a smear campaign against Ogle’s wife Mandy La Combre after she criticised Unite’s treatment of her husband.
In addition to the alleged ‘disgusting’ treatment of Ogle by the union, Sharon Graham’s tenure at Unite has been marked by a string of other serious allegations, which neither she nor the union has ever denied – of abuse, cover-up and failure to protect women:
- that she attempted to have evidence destroyed in bullying and misogyny complaints about her husband, whom she now employs in her office despite a final warning from the union for his behaviour
- after her supporters failed in their bid to take control of the Unite executive despite ‘dark money’ spending on advertising, ineglible and racist members being allowed to stand and the alleged use of paid organisers in and following the exec election campaign, her faction has resorted to Starmerite tactics to try to discredit the executive members’ election of a new left-wing union chair and both vice-chairs, as well as the vital Finance and General Purpose Committee
In addition, she has been exposed behind the union’s decision to ban showings in Unite’s buildings of a film exposing racism, smears, rigging and abuse by the Labour right and has appeared to grow increasingly cosy with red-Tory Labour ‘leader’ Keir Starmer, despite Starmer’s lies, his contempt for democracy, his u-turns on promises to Unite members and his regime’s repeated blocking of Unite-backed parliamentary candidates.
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