Underhill, Kay and Tomlinson LJJ dismiss appeal of former Wirral Council solicitor Gregory Eyitene of earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal decision involving allegations of race and disability discrimination

Underhill, Kay and Tomlinson LJJ dismiss appeal of former Wirral Council solicitor Gregory Eyitene of earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal decision involving allegations of race and disability discrimination

Underhill, Kay and Tomlinson LJJ dismiss appeal of former Wirral Council solicitor Gregory Eyitene of earlier Employment Appeals Tribunal decision involving allegations of race and disability discrimination


Tim D N Kenward Invoice 2 Page 1 of 2 7 Harrington Street Chambers 19th April 2013 Gregory Eyitene v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council £900 written advice draft letter
Tim D N Kenward Invoice 2 Page 1 of 2 7 Harrington Street Chambers 19th April 2013 Gregory Eyitene v Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council £900 written advice draft letter

I’m going to write about a rather complicated story now involving a former Wirral Council employee who worked as a solicitor there called Gregory Eyitene.

Mr Eyitene made claims of race and disability discrimination against Wirral Council which was heard by an Employment Tribunal in Liverpool (Employment Judge Ryan, Mr Roberts and Mr Gates) many years ago (the decision was sent out to parties in February 2012). The Employment Tribunal decided in favour of Wirral Council, but Gregory Eyitene then appealed this Employment Tribunal decision to the Employment Appeals Tribunal.

When it was heard by the Employment Appeals Tribunal in 2013, HHJ Richardson, Mrs A Gallico and Ms G Mills dismissed his appeal of the earlier Employment Tribunal decision. Mr Kenward of 7 Harrington Street Chambers appeared at this stage on behalf of Wirral Council.

Gregory Eyitene then appealed the decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal to the Court of Appeal (Civil Division).

Underhill, Kay and Tomlinson LJJ dismissed his appeal in 2014. The latest decision in the case can be read online [2014] EWCA Civ 1243 and makes for interesting reading.

Mr Tim Kenward of 7 Harrington Street Chambers (who had also appeared for Wirral Council at the EAT stage) also appeared for Wirral Council in the Court of Appeal. Gregory Eyitene (the appellant) who was representing himself, had written in before the hearing to state he was unwell and couldn’t attend but was happy for it to go ahead without him there.

Although you can read the judgement for yourself [2014] EWCA Civ 1243, permission to appeal was granted (mainly) on one point, that is allegations of bias made by the appellant about the original Employment Judge Ryan who referred to a particular aspect of the Appellant’s conduct in the written reasons as “brinkmanship” (paragraph 2.37 of the reasons) as well as other reasons. The lay members (Mr Roberts and Mr Gates) to the original Employment Tribunal decision had stated they hadn’t seen the written reasons before Employment Judge Ryan had sent them out.

The view of the Employment Appeal Tribunal on their original ET decision as quoted in the judgement were as follows on this:

“In our judgment, there is no force in this point at all. The practice is for the Employment Judge to consult the members and agree findings, conclusions and reasons before the judgment and reasons are given. Based on the results of that consultation, the Employment Judge will then give reasons either orally or in writing. There is no reason to doubt that this process occurred here. The fact, if such it be, that the members did not receive a copy of the written reasons does not provide any support for the proposition that they did not associate themselves with the judgment and reasons. The members said they did not have a copy of the written reasons, but nothing in their comments suggests for a moment that they would or did disagree on the question concerned.”

The two lay members at the Employment Tribunal stage stated the following after Elias LJ had required the original Employment Judge and members to provide their comments.

Mr Roberts (one of the two lay members on the ET decision stated):

“This was a lengthy and complex case which generated a considerable amount of discussion between Tribunal members in chambers following completion of the case. I had access to my copies of the bundles and my handwritten notes totalling in excess of 80 pages. Colleagues consulted their own bundles and notes as necessary. In my many years of Tribunal experience, I have rarely been asked to comment on a draft version of the final written reasons for a judgment, nor have I been regularly copied into the written reasons sent to the parties. But I have always contributed fully to discussion and deliberations and been fully consulted in agreeing findings of fact conclusions and a final judgment. I have never had any reason to doubt that the written reasons sent to the parties would do anything other than accurately reflect the views of the Tribunal, unanimous or otherwise. I am content that Judge Ryan issued written reasons in this case that fully reflected the Tribunal’s findings and conclusions.”

and M Gates (one of the two lay members on the Employment Tribunal stated)

“Judge Ryan, Mr Roberts and myself sat down and discussed the issues and matters of fact in relation to all aspects of the case in great detail. We debated the numerous issues that had been raised throughout the hearing. Judge Ryan made full notes on all points and drafted the decision; again, standard practice in my experience. The decision we reached was a unanimous one with a full consideration and input from all the members. Judge Ryan had it typed and sent to the parties. I say this is normal/standard practice on the basis that I have sat as an ET member for over ten years sitting in six Tribunal hearing centres with judges from at least five Tribunal regions, the process followed in the various Tribunals and regions being broadly similar. Throughout my time sitting, I have only twice received from a judge a copy of the typed decision. On both these occasions, the decision of the Tribunal was not unanimous, but majority decisions; the judges on both occasions asking the members to consider the points relating to the differing views in particular.”

So Wirral Council successfully defended themselves at the Employment Tribunal stage, Employment Appeals Tribunal stage and the Court of Appeal stage of the decisions in this matter.

Some of the invoices for earlier stages in this case (for the FY 2013/14) were published in this earlier blog post. Colin Hughes was the solicitor at Wirral Council dealing with this matter at the EAT stage.

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A professor, 2 solicitors and 3 councillors discuss alcohol sales at Westbourne Hall & filming of public meetings

A professor, 2 solicitors and 3 councillors discuss alcohol sales at Westbourne Hall & filming of public meetings


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The Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee comprising of Cllr Steve Niblock, Cllr Denise Roberts and Cllr Louise Reecejones supposed to start at 10.00am actually started at 10.20am. Cllr Steve Niblock was chair for the meeting. Quite why meetings of the Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee never start on time is a Town Hall mystery to write about another day, but councillors were there to decide on an application for selling alcohol at Westbourne Hall in Westbourne Road, West Kirby which is now run by Westbourne Hall Community Trust.

Attending the meeting were two trustees from the Westbourne Hall Community Trust whose names were David Wade and Ray Davies. Representing them was a solicitor called Barry Holland. There were also various council officers present to take the minutes, give legal advice or answer questions about the detail of the application.

A local resident, described as a professor who lives near Westbourne Hall was objecting to the application was also present, as was myself and my wife. Normally that would be everyone, but unusually (as there were no objections to this application from Merseyside Police) Sergeant Simon Barrigan (Licensing Sergeant for Wirral) and an unknown police officer accompanying him, sat and observed the meeting in silence.

At the start of the meeting Margaret O’Donnell (Licensing Manager, Wirral Council) informed people present that two residents had contacted Wirral Council officers to say that they couldn’t attend the hearing but had emailed in their views. The solicitor representing the Westbourne Hall Community Trust, Barry Holland said that he had had a chat with the objector to straighten out some issues. The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock read out what he does at every Licensing Act 2003 Subcommittee about what the purpose of the meeting was.

Margaret O’Donnell raised the issue of filming the meeting by saying, “Just to confirm for those who are present as well, that this particular hearing is being filmed and whether or not you wanted to give people an opportunity to comment on that.” I’ll point out here that when Pt 2 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 came into effect on August 6th of this year Wirral Council is not allowed to stop filming at its public meetings. The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock asked people present if they consented to being filmed and asked people present to confirm their consent.

As I sat there, as I’ve sat there through many discussions about filming at the start of public meetings at Wirral Council, I felt like I was in the film Groundhog Day where the same thing keeps getting said in an endless loop about filming in an effort to try my patience.

Heads were nodding around the room about the filming issue and the professor said in reply, “Well I assume I don’t even have a say in the matter, but as it’s a public meeting, usually I object to that in general but I also approve of the general principle of public meetings, so I think I don’t have any choice but to accept.”

Seemingly with a look of disappointment and a big intake of breath Cllr Steve Niblock as nobody was objecting to the filming of the meeting he asked their legal adviser Ken Abraham for “guidance on this issue”. I will point out at this point that in June, Cllr Niblock totally ignored the guidance that Ken Abraham gave him at a previous Licensing Act 2003 subcommittee meeting which led to the stop filming, that means stop now blog post back in June.

Mr Ken Abraham replied very quietly as he can hardly be heard on the video, “Well legislation has recently been passed in respect of meetings held in the past, held by the local authority which is regulations which are in force as well in relation to that. The guidance that was issued, really doesn’t touch upon the issue of individuals who object to the meeting being filmed. So there may be a pragmatic view really, if an individual did object to recording then that part of the hearing with which they were involved, you could ask for the camera to be switched off and we would have to in making that request, rely on the errm credibility and honesty of the individual filming to ensure the fact that the camera is actually put off and there would be no filming of that part.

Really to object to this filming, it would be a shame et cetera. So, councillor as I said before, Members around the table, you could attempt to do that but that is the rule.”

The professor said he didn’t want to cause any problems, followed by the solicitor for the applicant saying they would not to object to filming as it would be “churlish” as the application was being made on behalf of the community.

Margaret O’Donnell said that the purpose of the hearing was to decide on an application for a premises licence made by Westbourne Hall Community Trust and related to Westbourne Hall, in Westbourne Road, West Kirby. She said that they currently had a premises licence, which also allowed for regulated entertainment. Margaret O’Donnell read out the times they had applied for and that there were representations from residents about the application and one resident was here at the hearing.

The Chair, Cllr Steve Niblock asked the solicitor for the applicants to speak in support of their application. He said that it was not an application for a public house, sporting club or any kind of commercial venture. Westbourne Hall had operated as a community trust, originally run by Wirral Council and people from the area. Mr Davies had been associated with it since the joint panel was formed in 1994, but he had been involved before that dating back to 1991.

He went on to make it clear that it would not be a public house, there would be no stock and the application was to enable the premises to offer to people who rent it such as charities, arts groups, martial arts groups, dance groups and that it was a “genuine community venture”. Mr Holland said that the hall was rented out for wedding receptions and that the hall had had a licence since the inception of the 2003 Licensing Act.

However Westbourne Hall used its full quota of twelve temporary event notices and that there was no objection from any of the responsible authorities to this application. He said that due to the restriction the hall had lost out on potential lets and gave the example of an organisation renting the hall for rehearsals but also wanting to have an annual dance and Christmas party there. At the moment these were going to Heswall or Hoylake.

When the trust had taken over they had put a business plan together as to how they intended to run it, but they lost bookings who had gone elsewhere. He referred to the Hoylake Community Trust had done the same and it was to level the playing field. The community trust was not a commercial venture and he went into the detail as to the times.

Birthday parties for people aged 18-25 would not be permitted and he explained that they had had to make notices available about the application on the premises and in the press. If he had changed the wording of these notices to please the neighbours to explain it was not a commercial facility then it could have been argued that the statutory requirements hadn’t been complied with. He had been involved in a previous application where this had happened.

He asked for the artificial restriction of only twelve temporary event notices a year to be lifted and that the hall didn’t aim to change the relationship with its neighbours but he would happily answer any questions.

Two councillors (Cllr Louise Reecejones and Cllr Steve Niblock) asked similar questions about how they would ensure that the licensing objectives were upheld by organisations renting the hall and selling alcohol?

To be continued…

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