Why is embattled Conservative MP Lucy Allan being pilloried when left wing females get away with far worse transgressions? When sacked for Gross Misconduct, any employee, even those without 2 years service can sue – so where is the adverse tribunal finding in favour of sacked staffer Arianne Plumbly? Your Inquisitor says Allan is innocent until proven guilty.
Full disclosure here, I have met Lucy Allan, as we both campaign on family justice issues. Lucy Allan is also known to #GamerGate because of her commendable support for the Parliamentary debate on International Men’s Day. She is a member of my political party. Even so my support arises not from blind loyalty but from the facts of the case.
Years ago, I worked as a team manager in a call centre in various companies. At one workplace, I had a troublesome employee – let us call him ‘Colin’ (not his real name). Colin was a young graduate, fresh from university. Lacking experience he had been unable to find the employment he felt he deserved but had landed a 3 hour nightly shift.
Call centres are often stressful environments and low paid, so a great deal is tolerated from staff that would not be accepted elsewhere. Even so, ‘Colin’ was special.
I was surprised when Colin was transferred to my team – most of the graduates, passing through on their way to greater things, were clutched close greedily by team managers. One day shortly after he joined my team, I noticed he had turned up late. 90 minutes late in fact. Into his 3 hour shift. When I asked him if he would be so kind as to sit down and get on with, you know, some work he abruptly shouted, “I was talking to my friends!”
The technical name for this type of behaviour is ‘Gross Misconduct’ – grounds for instant dismissal. Casual inquiries reveal Colin had prior. Lots and lots of prior. Unfortunately no one had actioned it formally. I thought the right thing to do would be to fire him but the institution I worked for was having none of that. Once employed, even the most appalling of staff had to be given a chance.
Unlike his former manager, who had passed him on, I decided to tackle the issue properly. I did the most they would let me – I gave Colin a file note. In the company I worked for, this was the first step on the winding, baroque path that led to a warning and then to a disciplinary.
You would think I had drowned a kitten. Colin had few friends amongst the staff, but they were pretty clear. Colin was being oooppppreessssed. Just to avoid any suspicion I feel I should clarify that Colin was the same gender, race and sexual orientation as me but even so he was vocal in his complaints to my superiors. To Colin I was the literal embodiment of evil.
Thankfully my own manager shared my opinion of Colin, and frustrated by corporate procedure decided to ‘encourage’ him to leave. She counter-signed my file notes for Colin and she directed him to perform menial tasks such as cleaning out the cupboards. Colin felt the task was beneath him and so the instruction sent him into paroxysms of rage. Before we could complete the company’s byzantine pre-disciplinary procedures he resigned.
Company procedure also required HR to give a standard, dates and title reference for all leaving staff except for those terminated. So, having resigned, that is what Colin got. I pitied his next employer. When fired or criticised, few employees accept their failings and Colin was certainly not one of them.
Fortunately, Colin resigned instead of going off sick. The latter is a common tactic in call centres because it allows the staffer to at least postpone dismissal and give them time to find another job – often on sick pay.
Today I listened to the recording of Lucy Allan MP (hat tip Guido Fawkes), who represents Telford, talking to her former staffer Arianne Plumbly on the phone. Allan sounded frustrated and angry in much the same way as I was angry with Colin. I have no idea, of course, as to whether she was in the right. Arianne has only shared a single, largely context free recording and some messages. We have no idea of the full series of events that made her employer so angry. For her part, Lucy Allan has given a terse statement saying this –
“Arianne Plumbly was dismissed from her employment with Lucy Allan, MP in Telford, after four months’ employment, for gross misconduct following misuse of the Parliamentary email system, persistent unauthorised absenteeism, refusal to follow a reasonable instruction and rudeness to residents.”
Left wingers often complain that sacked employees have no recourse when their employment is terminated under two years. In this case, however, that simply is not true. In UK law dismissal for Gross Misconduct is special. As Allan explains in the recorded call, termination is without payment for the notice period. As a result, any employee (regardless of service length) may issue a claim in Employment Tribunal.
Unlike an ‘Unfair Dismissal’ claim, employees in these circumstances sue for ‘Wrongful Dismissal’. The difference is that an ‘Unfair Dismissal’ claim deals with questions of fairness whereas in a ‘Wrongful Dismissal’ claim only breach of contract is at issue. An Employment Tribunal will determine the case under the American rule – the employee will not have to pay costs if they lose unless they were unreasonable in bringing the case. There are fees to file the suit, but if the employee is unemployed and has no income they are waived.
In short if Arianne Plumbly is innocent or has been treated unfairly she can file a claim on a simple form at marginal to no risk of costs. The damages for a Wrongful Dismissal claim are limited to notice and other contractual benefits, but she can rely on the finding of fact subsequently in other claims (for example, libel or negligent misstatement). That means if she wins, say, a week’s wages she will have a good chance of finding a CFA lawyer to top up her damages with a claim in the High Court. Such claims may be risky, but any adverse earlier findings in the Tribunal would bind Allan, who would not be able to retry the facts.
Yet in all these stories, such as on the BBC, I read nothing about a Tribunal claim being filed. When I hear of an ET1, and only then, will I start taking Ms Plumbly seriously. When there is a judgement in her favour or a settlement then I will believe her. Until then Plumbly is just a sacked former employee with an axe to grind.
The other criticism levelled at Lucy Allan is that she falsified a death threat. Many MPs on all sides of the House complain of receiving threats and abuse online. Some on the left have decided to make this purely a women’s issue although men experience it too. A casual glance at Allan’s twitter timeline shows that of course she has received abuse and threats in the past.
The issue at hand was that to illustrate the point Allan tried to build up an anonymised example from fragments of several letters. This error has led to charges of falsification. Because she used such a large chunk of one person’s letter, it was certainly unfair. It was certainly unwise.
Yet Allan’s misdeeds are miniscule compared to the relentless misconduct of extreme left SJW feminists such as Randi Harper, whose chequered history online and offline was so egregious it required no less than three (count ’em) Breitbart articles to set it all out ,  and . Harper was invited to the United Nations to talk about the harassment she claims to have experienced online. Allan is being pilloried.
Right wingers on both sides of the Atlantic are often reluctant to defend a colleague from a feeding frenzy. This is a mistake. Lucy Allan is innocent until proven guilty and deserves no less support from us than Randi gets from her horde of slavish SJW followers.
Until there is a judgement I back Lucy Allan MP, who I know as a good and decent woman. Until then I ask that #WeBackLucyAllan too.