THE POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF CPSA
FREEDOM! UNITY! SOCIALISM!
REVOLUTION UNTIL VICTORY!
The era of the PLAIN BROWN ENVELOPE is clearly not over. Indeed, Barrabas has recently been the recipient of one and was disappointed that it did not contain large sums of money. However, since the 46 GREAT and GOOD members of the NEC have seen its contents (OK, 3 weren't at the June NEC) and since the PCS website stopped reporting NEC meetings last December, and since Runswicks website doesn't mention it, here is Barry's 40 minute rant to the NEC vis-a-vis His contract of employment and Conference Motion A195. The plotters thicken..........
NEC.1 7118100 NEC.1 7118100 Public and Commercial Services Union PRIVATE & CONFIDENTIAL: FOR CIRCULATION TO ELECTED NEC MEMBERS ONLY TO: NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
FROM: Barry Reamsbottom, Joint General Secretary
SUBJECT: BDC RESOLUTIONS
TIMING: For discussion at the NEC meeting on 6 June 2000
Report from JGS Reamsbottom concerning motion A195 NEC paper 17/12/00, which was issued by John Sheldon late last week, makes recommendations for dealing with conference motions, including motion A195. Following discussions with John, the paper was issued without my name on it, as I do not believe that the motion was in order to be debated at conference, although I see my name has been included on the supporting ballot materials. I assume that this was done in error. Some of the issues were posed when the NEC discussed its attitude to the motion at its April meeting, and Bob Bowman moved support for the motion on the basis that it would give members an opportunity to vote in an election for the post of General Secretary. I made a number of points in that debate, which I will outline again later in this paper, but Bob Bowman did not choose to address them in his right of reply to the debate.
The attitude adopted by the April NEC is at variance with the discussions held between PTC and OPSA prior to the merger in March 1998, and to the attitudes adopted towards motions on this issue put forward to the 1998 BDC. It is also not consistent with the position adopted in the PTC on the question of election of the general secretary. There were ample opportunities for those involved (many of whom are serving NEC members) to change that position at the time, but there was no move to do so.
As was noted by the Certification Officer in respect of the challenge to John Sheldon's position, members endorsed the current arrangements in the ballot on the instrument of amalgamation. No explanation has ever been given for the apparent volte face by the April NEC on this issue. After much soul searching, I have decided that it is right and proper that before deciding whether or not to go ahead with a ballot of members on the rule change called for in motion 195 at this year's PCS conference, NEC members are entitled to be aware of the full facts surrounding this issue. The real truth of the matter is that the NEC has been manipulated into the position of supporting the motion, and evidence that I will outline establishes that to be the case. On 3 February 1999 I received, in an envelope pushed under my door, documents that revealed that a secret discussion was going on at HQ to attack my position as general secretary.
The first document, headed "BARRY'S POSITION. Ability of the NEC to call fresh GS elections," says, inter alia,: "If the NEC did decide to call a GS election, it would be up to Barry, or perhaps a member on his behalf, to try to convince a court that the NEC did not have the necessary power under the rules." Then, in a paragraph headed: "Change of rules" it states: "In theory it would be possible for the NEC to propose rule changes, to clearly take away any protection for the incumbent JGSs. This would involve amending C19 in particular, to make explicit the period of time for which JGS appointments are intended to last. Under PRI3 and PRI6 this would have to be done initially by way of (a) a two-thirds majority of the NEC, or (b) a two-thirds majority of the BDC, followed by a membership ballot. It would not be possible to secure (a) and therefore (b) would be needed. The deadline for motions to the BDC is 25 September. After 25 September the next opportunity to change the rules would not arise until the second half of 2000 (i.e. in a ballot following either the 2000 BOC or fresh NEC elections)."
It is clear from this that these, highly improper, moves were being made before 25 September 1998! The document then goes on to explore other ways of removing me, including disciplinary action.
A second document, clearly written later, goes on to list three options (A, B, and C). Under a heading: "Rule change - Option A", it says: "Option A has the effect of electing a sole General Secretary in the autumn of next year (i.e. 2000). BR, if he did not win the election would have a right to revert to Assistant Secretary. "Short of calling an SDC to change the rules before the BDC in May next year, this is the quickest way of resolving the situation. "It would also allow JDS to stand against BR in the election, if it were judged that no other candidate had a good chance. "The potentially major disadvantage of Option A is that BR would have a case for saying that his contract of employment had been breached, since his contract gives him tenure until five years from his election as CPSA GS - ie June 2002. "There is a risk that he might be given an injunction to stop the process of changing the rules. "Even if he failed to get an injunction, it could leave the NEC in the uncomfortable position of being seen to breach his contract by calling an election."
Option "A", as described in the papers, is in the form of a draft rule change as follows: "This Conference believes that PCS members should be given the earliest possible opportunity to elect the General Secretary of the Union. Conference therefore: (a) Resolves to delete the second sentence of rule C19 (a) (Appendix C), and replace it with the following: "An election for the post of sole General Secretary shall be held by not later than 31 December 2000. No claim as to a pre-retirement exemption (under principal rule PRI 1) shall operate to prevent the election being held. On the appointment of the sole General Secretary following the election, the posts of Joint General Secretary shall be abolished." (b) Requests the NEC to hold a membership ballot under principal rules PR13 and PR16 to secure endorsement fro the rule amendment in (a) above. (c) Instructs the NEC to meet the financial obligations of the union to either Joint General Secretary under their contract of employment, in the event that they decide not to stand as a candidate, or stand as an unsuccessful candidate, in the election in (a)."
The paper also suggests other variants on the theme. In option B, the amendment to rule C19 (a) (Appendix C), is described as follows: "When John Sheldon ceases to serve, a vacancy shall arise for the post of Joint General Secretary. The vacancy shall be filled by an election, which shall be held not later than 31 December 2000. When the former CPSA General Secretary ceases to serve as Joint General Secretary, the remaining Joint General Secretary shall become sole General Secretary. The provisions of principal rule PRI 1, as to the exemption of a General Secretary who is within five years of their retirement date, shall not apply to the former CPSA General Secretary: the term of office of the former CPSA General Secretary shall therefore end not later than 1 June 2002."
In the notes accompanying option "B", it is stated that: "Option B would leave BR in office for around 18 months longer than Option A. But for that period his authority would be seriously weakened - especially if he had stood and lost in the election. "The big advantage of Option B is that there would be little or no chance of BR using his contract to stop the process. His contract would have been honoured in full. "Another serious tactical problem with Option B is that we might not be able to persuade the BDC to choose it in preference to Option A. Branches may not be impressed by the legal risks attached to breaking BR's contract. They may prefer to take the Option (A) which gets rid of BR as soon as possible."
Option "C" also proposed changes to transitional rule C19(a), but with the effect that there would be a later ballot. In the commentary it explains: "Option C simply has the effect of bringing forward the GS election from 2004, when BR retires, to June 2002."
Attached to the document is a "Summary of main options", after which a number of miscellaneous points are made, as follows: "1. Would BR try to get an injunction to stop Option A? Tactically he might not want to be seen to be arguing that his contract should be used to override the rules and prevent an election. "2. Would BR be granted an injunction? Cavalier says it might be difficult to call [note: Stephen Cavalier is a partner in the law firm Thompsons, which is one of the union's firms of lawyers, and who gave advice on whether motions to conference should or should not be excluded under SR 6.22(g)].
Forcing BR to go before June 2002 would be a prima facie breach of his contract. But the remedy might be financial compensation, rather than an injunction to stop the process. BR would need to seek an injunction early - ie not leave it till after decisions had been made. The Court might be sympathetic to the view that members should be allowed to take the decisions. BR has himself said on the record that he will consider his position when JDS goes. "3. Technically, a decision as between Options A and B does not have to be made until the BDC. Both motions could be tabled for debate, allowing further time for the issue of BR's contract to be clarified. The problem is that even if BR did not test the situation by applying for an injunction to stop the BDC debate ... Given strong enough legal advice in his favour, he might therefore gamble on getting an injunction at the ballot or election stage, leaving Option B to fall (it would have to be tagged to Option A)."
There is a further page, headed "Possible problems". Amongst the problems identified are the following: "No motion is tabled for Conference. Remedy: draft a motion for Branches, and ensure many of them are submitted. MF do not win a majority in the May 2000 NEC elections/ there is no NEC majority to support the motion. Remedy: help MF to get re-elected. The SOC refuse to table the motion, because of threats of legal action by Barry (Probably alleging inducement to breach of contract). Remedy: talk to SOC from early stage, provide reassuring legal advice. There is a technical defect in the motion carried Remedy: draft the motion centrally with the help of legal advice. There is a technical defect in the way the motion is carried. Remedy: brief President and SOC on all potential problems. Nobody credible is prepared to stand against Barry. Remedy: line up serious candidate(s) at early stage. The anti-Barry vote is split between different candidates. Remedy: MF decide their candidate as soon as possible."
Other documents have also been sent to me anonymously, over a period of time. One undated document includes the following statements: "In order to force an election which required Barry to leave before 2004, it will therefore be necessary to amend the Principal Rules. "One rule change has been cleared by lawyers (so-called "Option B3"). This would allow for an early election, with Barry stepping down in June 2002."
A further document, which must have been written after 19 November 1998, but possibly before the BDC which began on 25 November 1998, suggests action to, "put a little heat on McCann ... and/or BR", and also, "should we not keep Hanson busy by asking him to draft a detailed reply for the consideration of the HOC [Honorary Officers Committee], and keep things going for a while. Hanson must on no account be reappointed as SOC Sec for the 2000 BDC, and this will help prepare the ground for that - or indeed for moving against Hanson more generally."
It is worrying to see evidence of action being plotted against colleagues, but the key paragraph from this particular document states: 5 "Remind you that Donnellan has said that he wants a meeting to review the use/abuse of 6.22(g). Should organise this, as eventually we need a Presidential interpretation which makes it clear that the operation of the rule is limited. This would open up the chance at the 2000 BDC to start changing the rules on BR's position as GS, and force an election "Reallocation of JGS duties. You have talked about a `No 1' and `No 2' JGS. What about a reallocation which makes this clear? And at the same time limits BR's role in Scotland."
And finally, a memo between two senior officers dated "Wednesday", but from the context, it is clear that this document was written after the 1998 BDC but before the residential NEC in February 1999, includes the following: "DonnelIan I have spoken to Donnellan by phone. He says he will be in tomorrow. [There is a paragraph about NEC subsistence, which is not relevant] GS elections I took him through the legal position on the phone. You were right - something has prompted him to take another look at the rules. I didn't probe him as to what. He was effectively asking for clarification as to Barry's current status. There were one or two points I made which he had not considered. He seemed then to accept that the rules as they stand do not allow for elections before Barry retires in 2004. He made it sound like a casual query, but that may be just Peter. He didn't give me the impression that he was pressing for a way through the legal problems. It is frustrating that this issue should keep resurfacing without anyone talking to us about the technical or tactical side of it. Attached is a flowchart which shows the various options in technical terms, as I understand it is based on discussions some months ago with Cavalier. It is difficult to be certain on some points without seeing Barry's contract. The most straightforward option is to change the rules at the BDC next year - or at an SDC if one intervenes."
The flow chart referred to above is difficult to reproduce, but it talks of a "Dossier" at the [left hand] start of the flow chart, with a footnote that, "There should in every case be a comprehensive written record of the grounds for proceeding, including formal censures by the NEC." The chart then describes the process going through disciplinary action, rule changes, breaches of discipline, GS elections (during which John Sheldon remains as the sole General Secretary) towards a conclusion of final GS elections on the right hand side.
Clearly there have been no grounds for proceeding with disciplinary action against me, or censuring me on the grounds of incompetence or inefficiency. These documents provide further evidence of the involvement of the union's lawyers, and senior officers, in a campaign to dislodge me from my position.
6 When I received these documents, I immediately sent them to my private lawyer (I attach copies of receipts at Appendix 1). If anyone doubts their veracity, I would be happy for my lawyer to send them securely to the President, to be opened in the presence of an independent witness. I accept that it is in the nature of the job of general secretary that one has to deal with all sorts of stresses and strains. I have had to carry on doing what I am sure everyone accepts is a demanding job in the knowledge that senior colleagues have been colluding to undermine my position. I know of no union affiliated to the TUC where such a situation would be allowed to persist. I have been aware of these issues since February 1999. I have not made them public before because I did not want there to be damaging publicity for the union. I know there has been some press reporting of the issues, but it has emerged that these documents have also been copied to others, including papers received in an envelope franked from UNISON headquarters. The press reports have not come from me, and when I was asked for a comment I kept my remarks to the absolute minimum.
One of the documents in my possession, which talks about removing me from office on a trumped up disciplinary charge, says that the matter would have to be squared with, among others, John Monks. I have therefore briefed John Monks about the contents of the papers in my possession. I should also draw to your attention correspondence between myself and the President, and JGS Sheldon, concerning motions to this year's BDC. I attach a note which I made at the time of the meeting where we discussed the question of which lawyers should be used for advice on motions relating to my position (Appendix 2). I also raised my concerns with Geoff Shears, the managing partner of Thompsons solicitors. You will see that I was excluded from seeing legal advice on the conference motions affecting my position, as was the secretary of the standing orders committee, in clear breach of NEC/14/38/00 (copy attached at Appendix 3) agreed as recently as March of this year. The documents quoted above shows that there has been a concerted plan to get motions through conference to force an election for the post of General Secretary by employees/officers of the union.
On 12 May, my solicitor wrote to the Standing Orders Committee in respect of motion A195, saying that as it could lead to a breach of my contract, and result in legal action against the union, it should be withdrawn from the agenda under supplementary rule SR 6.22(g). The SOC appear to have rejected the terms of this letter, in a summary response, and took no subsequent action on motion A195, despite a clear potential for legal action against the union if the motion was carried (copies attached at Appendix 4).
7 I also refer to the discussion at Conference on the papers mentioned in the debate on John Mclnally's complaints against the CPSA. For those who are unaware of the circumstances surrounding this issue, John MclnalIy's partner was involved in a dispute with ES management, following unauthorised industrial action. CPSA took up her case, but would not agree to pay her salary while the case was considered, which became a bone of contention between CPSA and John McInally. Since that time, he has pursued a vendetta against the former CPSA officers, making unsubstantiated allegations about CPSA finances. I find it very odd that someone who has declared himself as a candidate in the General Secretary election should have secretly conducted investigations into CPSA finances, and reached conclusions which are potentially defamatory to me, and that a report of an investigation into these allegations has apparently been supplied to John MclnaIIy, but withheld from me.
The distribution of Moderate election leaflets has been portrayed as evidence of a major scandal. Despite the fact that I am the joint general secretary with lead responsibility for balloting, membership records and distribution, I have still not been given the full documentation in support of the investigation into this matter. I strongly feel that the evidence cited above shows that there is potentially an equally serious scandal about the abuse of PCS resources to displace me from my constitutional and contractual position as Joint General Secretary. Much of the above will be new information to NEC members, and you will probably not be aware of the full circumstances surrounding the passage of motion A195.
To summarise, these are as follows: (i) There have been plans within some parts of the organisation since the inception of PCS to undermine my position, or remove me from office, virtually since the first day of the merger; (ii) Union resources, and one of the union's firms of lawyers, appear to have been involved in drawing up these plans, without my knowledge, and without the sanction of any executive body of the union; (iii) Information has been withheld from me about important issues for which I have lead responsibility as joint general secretary, including allegations of abuse of membership data in the run up to recent elections; (iv) Legal advice provided by the same solicitors who appear to have been involved in giving advice on the plan to undermine my position on the conference motions on the same issue has been withheld from me, and the secretary of SOC; (v) There has been a breach of the union's rules in the way that motion Al 95 was included for discussion at the conference (rule 6.22(g)); 8 (vi) A senior full time officer who has I understand now declared himself publicly as a candidate for election to the post of GS appears to have had privileged access to some of the information referred to above, in respect of complaints from John Mclnally. This SFTO has been allowed to take legal advice and produce a report on unsubstantiated allegations in respect of my financial management of the union, all without my knowledge and without the allegations being put to me, to give me a chance to rebut them; The impact of motion 195, if it were endorsed in a membership ballot, would be as follows:
a. It would end the pre-retirement exemption for any future general secretary of the PCS. If a future general secretary had only six months of their contract to serve before retirement, under the new rules they would be required to stand for election for that period, and then there would need to be a further election a few months later when they retired;
b. The clock on a five year term of office for a general secretary starts ticking as soon as the ballot closes. A general secretary Ses~,~xd~e elected in 2000, although not taking office until 2002, would be forced to submit his/herself for re-election in 2005, just three years into their term of office;
c. Transitional rule C19 remains unchanged by any amendment to the principal rules, and in accordance with PRI6, shall supersede the relevant parts of the union's rules, and cannot be amended except as in accordance with the procedures in PRI3. Cl9a explicitly states that, "in the event that one of the Joint General Secretaries ceases to serve, the remaining Joint General Secretary shall be appointed as General Secretary. When John Sheldon retires, I shall be appointed as General Secretary, which post I will legally be entitled to hold until my retirement.
The status of anyone elected to a post of General Secretary in accordance with motion 195 becomes highly questionable - do they become general secretary elect for four years? Given that it has been demonstrated that motion A195 could lead to legal action against the union, and the events surrounding the way in which the motion persisted on the conference agenda, NEC members may wish to consider whether it would be right for any further action to be taken on the motion. In the circumstances, to put the motion to a ballot of members would seem to be entirely wrong, and I recommend that no further action be taken on the motion.
9 APPENDIX 1A JAF/VB/ Mr. B.A. Reamsbottom, 19 May 1999 Flat A, 156 Bedford Hill, LONDON, SW12.
Dear Mr. Reamsbottom, We write to acknowledge safe receipt of the sealed envelope signed by you and dated the 13th May 1998 containing "documents lodged with Swinburne & Jackson (Solicitors) Consett". We confirm that the envelope is now lodged in our strong room for safe keeping and will not be released other than on the authority of either you or your personal representative. Yours faithfully, SWINBURNE JACKSON & PARTNERS,
APPENDIX 1B Swinburne Jackson & Partners Solicitors Commissioners for Oaths 2 Edith Street Consett Co. Durham DH8 5DW Partners: Michael L Dunstan, LLB. John A. Flynn, LLB. Verity J. Dobbie, LLB., M.A. Tel: (01207) 502532 Fax: (01207) 503385 DX 61930 Consett Our Ref.: JAF/VB/ Your Ref.: 11 October 1999 Mr. B.A. Reamsbottom, 156 Bedford Hill, LONDON, SW12 9HW
Dear Barry, I acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 8th October 1999 and confirm that I have placed the additional documents with the other envelope. Unfortunately while the post was being opened the envelope was inadvertently opened but I have put a letter of explanation in with it and resealed it over my signature. Yours sincerely, A QUALITY SERVICE This firm is regulated by The Law Society in the conduct of investment business.
APPENDIX 1C Swinburne Jackson & Partners Solicitors Commissioners for Oaths 2 Edith Street Consett Co. Durham DH8 5DW Tel: (01207) 502532 Fax: (01207) 503385 DX 61930 Consett Partners: Michael L Dunstan, LL B John A Flynn, LL B Verity J. Dobbie, LL.B., M.A. Your Ref.: Our Ref.: JAIF/VB/ 25 January 2000 Mr. B.A. Reamsbottom, 156 Bedford Hill, LONDON, SWl2 9HW
Dear Barry, I write to confirm that your additional envelope has been placed with the other two in safe custody. Yours sincerely, A QUALITY SERVICE approved by the Law Society
APPENDIX 1D Swinburne Jackson & Partners Solicitors Commissioners for Oaths 2 Edith Street Consett Co. Durham DH8 5DW Tel: (01207) 502532 Fax: (01207) 503385 DX 61930 Consett Your Ref.: Our Ref: JAFIVB/ 22 March 2000 Mr. B.A. Reamsbotton, 156 Bedford Hill, LONDON, SWI2 9HW
Dear Barry, I acknowledge receipt of your fourth envelope which has been safely lodged with the others in our strong room. Yours sincerely, Partners: Michael L. Dunstan, LL.B.t Solicitors: Jennifer Flynn LL.B. John A Flynn, LLP.* Moira Spinl< BA. Verity J. Dobbie, LL.B., M.A.* Legal Executive: Alan Brown F. Inst. L.EX Member of the Law Society Probate Section ~ Member of the Law Society Family Panel & SPLA A QUALITY SERVICE This fir,n is regulated by The Law Society in the conduct of investment business. App.oved hf The LggaI A.d B~wd Private and confidential
Appendix 2 NOTE OF A MEETING REGARDING LEGAL ADVICE ON MOTIONS TO CONFERENCE, HELD IN PCS HEADQUARTERS AT 1:25 PM ON FRIDAY 24 MARCH 2000.
Present: Peter Donnellan, Barry Reamsbottom, John Sheldon and Jim Hanson The President began the meeting by reporting that the chair of the NSOC had identified six categories of motion where the NSOC had a concern that the motions might fall for exclusion from the conference agenda under supplementary rule 6.22(g). He added that the NSOC had given him the motions rather than the secretary because they felt that as the secretary was JGS Reamsbottom's assistant and some of the motions specifically concerned JGS Reamsbottom's position, he might be compromised in some way.
The motions included the following: NEC election regulations - 126, 390, 423 Editorial Board - 124, 149, 236, 273, 278, 370, 409, 486, 562, 630, 662. Election for GS post - 14,15,127,143,176, 207, 272, 280, 334, 395, 424, 440, 549, 580, 617, 663, 692, 720. CAPE-221. Union lawyers - 307 The Scottish case against PCS - 26
The President said that he felt the motions should all go to Thompson's for advice, and JGS Sheldon agreed with him. JGS Reamsbottom then raised two issues. Firstly he pointed out that that over a period of time beginning in May 1999, he had lodged a number of documents with his private solicitors, on 4 separate occasions, which related to a campaign to force him to stand for election or resign his post by the end of year 2000, and certainly no later that the end of the year 2002. These documents had been leaked to him by someone who obviously felt they were very serious, and may suggest evidence of corruption. They appeared to show that headquarters officials, NEC members and a solicitor of the legal firm Thompsons had been working together to submit motions for the BDC in May which would force JGS Reamsbottom to either resubmit himself for election, or resign his post.
Barry had held a meeting with the managing partner of Thompson's, Geoff Shears, that morning to discuss the situation, and Geoff Shears had agreed to conduct an investigation. At that meeting, JGS Reamsbottom had given copies of his receipts for the documents to Geoff Shears. In the light of those facts, which indicated that staff and resources had been used in a campaign to unseat JGS Reamsbottom, he said that although he thought there were equally competent lawyers who could do the work, he would motions on other subjects going to Thompsons.
However, because of Thompson's direct involvement in the drafting of motions on his position, he could not accept that Thompsons could give objective advice on those motions concerning his position. Those motions should therefore go to another firm.
JGS Reamsbottom also pointed out that there would two categories of motion to be referred for legal advice. As well as those to be considered under 5R6.22(g), for which responsibility rested with the NSOC, there were a number of motions on which advice should be sought as to whether they were legally in order or not. JGS Sheldon said that he did not know about the papers to which JGS Reamsbottom had referred, and that he would have to speak to Geoff Shears about them. But he still saw no reason why all the motions should not go to Thompsons.
JGS Reamsbottom put it to him that that it was the JGSs duty to advise the President, and questioned whether JGS Sheldon still wanted to give that advice, despite the reference to documentary evidence of Thompsons' involvement in a campaign to unseat him. JGS Reamsbottom expressed astonishment that that should be his position. The President said that he did not know about the papers to which JGS Reamsbottom had referred, although he did know about discussions at a meeting of the "Membership First" group held before the March 2000 meeting of the National Executive Committee, where the subject had been discussed.
JGS Reamsbottom went on to say that the President must have been aware that a motion had been debated by the pre-NEC meeting, where a senior member of the NEC had proposed a motion concerning JGS Reamsbottom, and made reference to a letter from Stephen Cavalier from Thompsons.
The President said that he would have to reflect on the matter before making a decision. Neither the President nor JGS Sheldon responded to JGS Reamsbottom's point that no authorisation had been sought from the NEC, Honorary Officers, PRC, Senior Full Time Officers, or any other official body of the union for legal advice to be sought on the question of an election for a post of either general secretary or joint general secretary. As the meeting was ending, JGS Reamsbottom asked the President to confirm that the bulk of the motions would be going to Thompsons, which he and JGS Sheldon did confirm. JGS Reamsbottom registered his objection to them not being shared between law firms, as precedent had dictated.
Appendix3 NEC/14/38/00 PCS Public and Commercial Services Union
To: NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
From: Barry Reamsbottom and John Sheldon, Joint General Secretaries, and Peter Donnellan, President
Date: 6 March 2000
Subject: REQUEST FROM NSOC FOR LEGAL ADVICE AND INDEMNITY
TIMING For decision at the March meeting.
ISSUE The National Standing Orders Committee have requested indemnity to be granted to them under supplementary rule 9.20.
BACKGROUND At BDC 1998, despite opposition from the NEC, a consitutional amendment was carried to supplementary rule 6.22(g), which transferred responsibility from the joint general secretaries and president for determining which issues should be considered for exclusion from the agenda because of potential legal difficulties, to the NSOC. The NSOC are now requesting that they be given indemnity, under the provisions of supplementary rule 9.20, in respect of any legal action taken as a consequence of this rule change.
RECOMMENDATION Our jointly agreed recommendation is that the NSOC is not granted indemnity under SR 9.20. It is our view that, as long as they take legal advice from one of the union's solicitors, and abide by that advice, they will not be subject to effective legal proceedings. The only circumstances under which we can imagine there being a problem is if they took action in defiance of advice given to them, in which case a problem might arise. In such circumstances, indemnity would not satisfy the terms of the rule. We also recommend that the secretary of the NSOC be responsible for transmitting motions requiring legal advice (of which we hope will there will be a minimum) to the union lawyers, as approved by the president and JGSs. PRESIDENT JOINT GENERAL SECRETARIES
A.J. HOWS & ASSOCIATES Heathrow Office 81 New Road Solicitors Harlington Middlesex UB3 58G Tel: 020 8476 4047 The Secretary Fax: 020 8476 4075 Standing Orders Committee DX: 3512 Hounslow PCS email: email@example.com 160 Falcon Road London SW11 2LN BY POST& FAX: Our Ref: AJH/JST/Reamsbottom Your Ref: 12 May 2000
Dear Sir Re: Barry Reamsbottom We act for Mr Barry Reamsbottom. It has come to our client's attention that, despite his correspondence with the Chair of the SOC. Motions 195 and 196 still appear on the Order paper for the forthcoming PCS Conference. A number of other motions have clearly been withdrawn from the Order paper. This has, presumably, been done in accordance with Supplementary Rule 6.22(g),. Our client has asked for a copy of the Legal advice obtained by the SOC in respect of Motions 195 and 196 but this has been refused. We are instructed to draw the following matters to the attention of the SOC in relation to these two Motions, which are virtually identical:
1. The position of the Joint General Secretaries is governed by Rule C19. The Rules in Appendix C can only be amended in accordance with Rule PR 16. Neither of the Motions seek to amend Rule CI 9. The only proposed amendment is to Rule PR11. We have advised our client that the terms of the Motion would, therefore, be ineffective to alter his position as General Secretary. Any attempt to implement Motion 195 or 196 (if passed) would be challenged by our client in the Courts on the basis that the Motion cannot lawfully affect his contractual position nor his position as set out in the Rules.
2. So that there shall be no doubt about the matter, it is our client's contention that he is entitled to remain as sole General Secretary on the retirement of John Sheldon and that he is entitled to serve in that position until his 55th birthday in 2004. In all the circumstances, it must be clear that if either of the Motions is passed by Conference and implemented by the NEC, legal action by our client to protect his position will be inevitable. In these circumstances, it must follow that under Rule 6.22(g) these Motions should have been ruled out of order. Please let us have by fax today a copy of the legal advice that you are relying on or confirm that these Motions will be withdrawn from the Order paper for Conference. Yours faithfully A J HOWS & ASSOCIATES
Public and Commercial Services Union National Standing Orders committee c/o The Winter Gardens Blackpool Tel: 01253622158 A J Hows and Associates Heathrow Office 81 New Road Harlington Middlesex UB3 5BG 16 May 2000
Dear Sir Re: Barry Reamsbottom Having carefully considered the content of your letter of 12 May - a full copy of which we only received earlier today - we are writing to confirm that the motions referred to remain on the order paper for debate at PCS Conference 2000. There is no obligation, within the PCS rules, for us to provide you with a copy of any legal advice we have received. Yours John Jamieson (Chair) Mary Arlidge Paul Beachcroft Derek Mellor Keith Williams