31st January 2017
There was a late start to proceedings this morning, with the case being delayed, before re-commencing at 11:20 AM rather than the planned 10:00 AM.
Mrs Alison Mountney, represented by Mr Simon Mountney.
Surjit Tour, Director of Law, Wirral Council, represented by Mr Moore.
Witness for respondent
Kate Robinson, Wirral Council
Judge Robinson started with an apology for the slight delay, and confirmed that the panel had read all of the statements and the chronology for the respondent.
Upon the Judge’s request, Simon Mountney submitted the claimant’s chronology.
The Judge then acknowledged a difficulty with understanding areas of conflict within the statements, but explained that the issues would become clearer following Mr Moore’s cross-examination of witnesses for the claimant, starting with Alison Mountney.
Upon the Judge’s request, Mr Moore acknowledged for the respondent that Mrs Mountney’s disability regarding depression and anxiety was accepted and recognised as a disability.
The Judge stated that crucial to this acceptance was the question, “When did Wirral Council’s awareness of Mrs Mountney’s disability first occur?”
Mr Moore then accepted one qualifying disclosure which occurred on 9th February 2015.
The Judge stated that all witnesses had now provided written statements and that from the respondent’s point of view, Mr Moore would be challenging any discrepancies on behalf of his client. For the claimant, Mr Mountney could ask for clarification, but could not go over the whole statement.
At this point Alison Mountney took to the witness stand, swore on The Bible and began to face cross-examination by Mr Moore, for the respondent, upon her submitted statement.
Wirral In It Together statement
It became clear to us today that given the nature of the evidence that would be provided by witnesses, the uncertainty over scheduling of witnesses, and the planned length of hearing (9 more days including today), it would no longer be possible for us to attend every day, take a record of events and provide a correctly-balanced report.
We do apologise for this situation, and for the fact that this will be our final report, but it is largely due to the fact that the case had been reported publicly as a 5-day hearing, which later unexpectedly became a 10-day hearing. We found ourselves in a position where we were not able to change our work schedule to meet these evidently changed requirements.
The name Dianne Kelly came up more than once in Alison Mountney’s witness statement. Just prior to the hearing breaking for lunch, Judge Robinson cautioned all present that the same Dianne Kelly was a serving member of Vernon Street Civil and Family Courts and that this presented a possible conflict and a potential obstacle to the hearing proceeding. It had been presented and explained during the Alison Mountney witness statement that Dianne Kelly had been a full-time UNISON officer who had working connections with senior councillors and senior officers serving at Wirral Council, hence Judge Robinson’s misgivings over whether the case could proceed.
The Judge did confirm with his two colleagues, then state that from memory, Dianne Kelly had retired from her previous union role and neither he nor his two panel members had served alongside Dianne Kelly on any tribunal cases.
However, in view of Dianne Kelly’s position, he did further caution that he would make separate enquiries before seeking agreement that the case could continue.
He also emphasised that Dianne Kelly had not been accused of anything.
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 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