Whilst we at Wirral In It Together are generally, and with good reason, critical of Wirral Council, the public can rest assured that the reporting on this blog post will follow standard, statutory court reporting requirements and will make strenuous efforts to provide a balanced version of events as they unfold. This is the first time we have reported from a tribunal and we see this important case as a very good opportunity to discharge our Article 10 rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The right for journalists and social watchdogs to access and impart public information was underlined recently following the 15-2 verdict in favour of upholding Magyar Helsinki Bizottság v Hungary (18030/11)
As a result, there is now a defined (if not unconfined) human right of access to and the subsequent imparting of public information.
30th January 2017
The hearing convened at 10:00 am. It quickly became clear that this was to be a 10 day hearing and not a 5 day one, as had previously been publicised.
Mrs Alison Mountney, represented by Mr Simon Mountney.
Surjit Tour, Director of Law, Wirral Council, represented by Mr Moore.
Judge Robinson commenced proceedings by introducing himself and by checking with all present that his position as a Wirral Council tax payer did not cause any difficulties. It didn’t and he proceeded to explain that 10 days had been set aside to hear the case and that the bundles were large and there would therefore be a lot of reading for panel members.
Judge Robinson envisaged that this would take a further day and events would be expected to proceed in earnest at 10:00 AM tomorrow, Tuesday 31st January, although this was by no means certain.
The issue of the chronologies of events then arose. Judge Robinson confirmed that a chronology had not yet been agreed by the claimant, who has made additions in red. The respondent confirmed that they have had sight of the claimant’s chronology.
Next to be introduced was the order of witnesses and their names. This was as follows:
*Order not certain yet for claimant witnesses and there may be some variations to that stated
Judge Robinson emphasised that claimants become witnesses when they are seated behind the desk in the witness chair, providing their statements. They are reliant only upon the statements and documents in use. Mr Mountney will become an advocate once again upon returning to his advocate’s chair.
For the respondent, Mr Moore will cross-examine witnesses for the claimant.
There will then be a re-examination by panel members for the purposes only of clarification and possible amplification.
The Judge asked Mr Moore if he had any concerns. Mr Moore brought up two. The first was the subject of PCPs or Provision Criteria or Practice with regard to disability and reasonable adjustments, that the claimant might want to have it in mind, stating, “PCPs were never articulated”.
Second was PIDA jurisdiction points and specifically the time limit of 20th November 2015, where he stated that before this date was ‘out of time’.
Judge Robinson then went into greater detail regarding PCPs and their use and implementation, stating during the case he would need to know what had placed Mrs Mountney at a disadvantage. For the purposes of learning more on this subject matter, see the above link.
The Judge asked Mr Mountney if he had any concerns. Mr Mountney brought up the subject of former Wirral CEO Mr Graham Burgess, who had been the incumbent at the time of the occurrences.
Mr Mountney had placed a document the previous Friday in application for a ‘witness order’ to have Mr Burgess summoned to provide clarification over an apparent conflicting piece of information which had been provided within Mr Tour’s statement.
The Judge said there was no statement for Mr Burgess. He went on to state that no witness order would be issued, rounding off with a request that the claimant provide their chronology tomorrow, Tuesday 31st January.
Prior to leaving today, we checked and confirmed with the tribunal office that the case in Tribunal Room 2 did not have any reporting restrictions applied.
The case continues.
To assist public web searches, and web-crawling search engines that help to pinpoint names and keywords, we’re reproducing textual versions of the above list of witnesses here and will copy this to each of the three posts we’ve made:
Surjit Tour; Kate Robinson; Joe Blott; Tony Williams; Fiona Johnstone; Clare Fish; Chris Hyams; Lesley Hales; Alison Mountney; Simon Mountney; Ian Upton; Rachelle Bramhall; David Davies; Elsie Graney; Anthony Martin Morton