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Steph Booth v Cool UK Tribunal

From Gareth Binding

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

I would like to share my press statement regarding the Steph Booth v Cool UK tribunal on your Hebden Bridge website and hope that anyone who knew me (or my father - Ray) when I lived in Todmorden would be able to read the other side to the story and make your own minds up. I’m sure it will be of interest to the residents of Calder Valley.

Press Statement

I am disappointed at the tribunal’s findings and would like to say that since the tribunal, Cool UK continues to work with various authorities in the North West who have investigated Mrs Booth’s claims of Health and Safety issues thoroughly and have found them to be unsubstantiated.

We have always maintained a close relationship with all our referrers.

I feel the case was brought against the company only on the basis that information I had passed to the Labour Party could hinder Mrs Booth’s political advancement. Indeed at one point prior to the tribunal I was asked by her representative to simply write to the Labour Party to withdraw the statements I had made about Mrs Booth and the case would be dropped, on a matter of principle I refused.

Ultimately this will have to be a judgement made by the electorate of the Calder Valley as to whether she is a fit and proper person to stand.

In all, it was only a partial victory, there were key points that reflected very badly on her, one being that the tribunal found she did bully and coerce a junior member of staff into sending blogs to the Halifax Courier website, contrary to what she would have had the Labour Party believe.

It was found that I am not the type of person to call anyone a f****** B**** as was reported widely in the press.

There was no evidence to suggest anyone at Cool UK was involved in purchasing pornographic dvds. This was merely an opportunistic chance to smear the company and its staff.

I am pursuing Mrs Booth through the county court for the return of the £5,000 loan made to her, whom the court failed to believe, was a bonus for her work as stated.


Gareth Binding

From Sarah B

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Having read through sections of the judgment which is widely available thanks to Ms Booth - I must say Mr Binding I feel you have been vindicated - well done for standing up for what you believe in. You may have lost the overall case, but against such a vicious attack your chances were slim - the main thing is your name is cleared and she "did not suffer detriment by any act of the employer". I feel sorry for you for getting caught up in the nasty web which has been spun by this person.

As for Booth - when the Tribunal discussed the story about Janet O their findings were: (Section 8.3.1) "we have found that Ms Booth did persuade her colleague to do this in January 2009 and therefore we find that Mr Binding had not concocted this story" - maybe you should be careful who you show the judgment to Ms Booth, it doesn’t completely go in your favour now does it.

Maybe if you concentrated your efforts on doing some good in the community, not just writing letters but actually getting stuck in - stop hiding behind lawyers and attacking charities, fellow party members and builders and do something positive, you may be seen in a better light - let’s just hope for your sake it’s not too little too late.

From Mark Jackson

Thursday, 4 March 2010

I find that above press statement by Binding extremely politically charged: while it sets out his side of the ‘story’, he’s also passive aggressive in his attempts to weigh into discussions of the future of Booth’s political career beyond the tribunal to try to influence of the voters of Calder Valley. Why bother? Binding: Why not let voters make their own minds up?

As is clear from the profile of this dispute, Binding is a significant local employer and businessman, who here is motivated by a desire to set the record straight and on this issue, I guess, who can blame him. Tribunals are always uncompromising and damaging affairs, for all parties, whatever the result. While at one level I can sympathise with his self-interested agenda, I find Binding in the statement above, at times, guilty of the very thing he says he disapproves of in Booth’s behaviour – so why stoop to “her level”? Arguably, the danger of this bold defensive assault on Booth’s political aspirations is that he is in danger of reducing this issue to a question of character and morality, and given the scope of the tribunal this is a slippery framing, given the actual verdict passed by the Tribunal, which really did not go in his favour. It seems to me that he is more interested in fostering a storm around Booth’s political ambitions to cause maximum than in moving on and protecting the good name of his charity in the aftermath of this tribune.

For instance, one could easily reflect on his powers of judgement and character as an important local employer and “charity boss”, as the papers refer to him, in not following employment procedure in the first place and then mistreating someone because they have “blown the whistle”, before appropriate investigation. Leaving aside the issue of whether a charity should always be a beacon of anti-discriminatory practice in following procedure and protocol, it’s important, while obvious, to stress that more was at stake in this case than party politics and local personalities, like Binding and Booth, who need to make sense of the verdicts in terms of advancing their own careers or protecting their own reputations. Regardless of the petty differences between Binding and Booth, my point is that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there was a fundamental principal at stake in this tribunal, one that in this case was not respected by the employer; and the tribunal agreed. The law must support people (even those wanting to pursue political careers - not a job for the faint hearted) who are mistreated by their employers, and for the sake of public fairness this right must always be protected and upheld.

From Sarah B

Thursday, 4 March 2010

If Ms Booth is willing to make statements such as “This is a fantastic result not least because it shines the spotlight on education services such as Cool UK that fail to provide the best service they can – especially those for vulnerable young people.” Which is damning to Mr Binding’s company, then Mr Binding has every right to give his side of the story. I don’t think he shows any signs of being interested in her political ambitions, he is merely as you say, protecting the good name of his charity and giving his side of the story - truthfully.

Ms Booth was willing to drop the claim against him if he wrote to the Labour party claiming he lied, but as he is an honest person he risked it all to stand up for what he believes is the right thing to do. After putting in such a detailled claim against him, she was willing to drop it for one tiny point - providing he lied? I say well done Mr Binding for not backing down, there are not enough decent, honest people standing up for what they believe in these days.

In doing this he lost the case, but at least morally, he did the right thing. So why shouldn’t he mention this in his response to press articles – why should he sit back and let Booth continue to attempt to blacken his good name even further?

I agree with you, the law must support people (even those wanting to pursue political careers) who are mistreated by their employers, and for the sake of public fairness this right must always be protected and upheld. On the same note, good, decent and honest people must also support people who are mistreated by their fellow party members. It’s good to know there are still some of these decent people out there.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 4 March 2010

All the employment tribunal seems to have achieved is make it even plainer that Steph Booth would be an unfortunate choice of candidate for any political party. Isn’t it now time that Christine McCafferty, Cllr Tim Swift and other Labour luminaries stand up and be publicly counted, either for or against Steph Booth remaining as Labour candidate?

From Ron Taylor

Friday, 19 March 2010

I have just finished reading the judgement which the Employment Tribunal came to in the case of Steph Booth v Cool UK.

Of course, our Prospective Parliamentary Labour candidate won her claim that she was unfairly dismissed and obviously the judgement document covers the facts in great detail. But when read as a whole the document shows that SB’s victory is a hollow one.

As well as claiming unfair dismissal she also claimed that Gareth Binding of Cool UK had tried to scupper her chances of being selected by the Labour Party as its candidate. She alleged that he was the source of a damaging and untrue story about her which appeared in the Yorkshire Post around the time of the selection process, details of which he sent to the national party. The story concerned a revelation by another employee of Cool who said that he was told by Steph Booth to write and send emails to the Halifax Courier which disparaged the former PPLC Janet Oosthuysen. At the time Steph Booth strenuously denied the story and the Post, under threat of libel action, withdrew the article from its website. (Mr Binding was also threatened with libel but no action was ever forthcoming).

The Labour Party, at national level, conducted an enquiry into the allegations and, as the judgement document shows, SB produced at the hearing a letter from Eric Wilson of the Party. The letter, dated June 11 2009, said that, " Ms Booth was questioned in detail on the content of the letters (sent by Mr Binding) by the NEC panel which was satisfied with her response...... and found that the claimant (Steph Booth) had given a full explanation of allegations against her and the party was clear they were without substance."

The tribunal, however, having heard all the evidence, did not believe SB and reached the following conclusion. "We have found that Ms Booth did persuade her colleague to do this (write the emails) in January 2009 and therefore we find the Mr Binding had not concocted this story."

The question arising from the findings of the tribunal is, of course, is Steph Booth still someone who is fit to represent the Labour Party (or indeed any party)?

See also

HebWeb news - Labour candidate Steph Booth wins case - but concerns for local voters remain