Monday, December 19, 2011
Reserve soldier fired from job at British bank
A Territorial Army soldier who fought in Afghanistan was sacked from his job at Barclays Bank because managers saw his service as a 'betrayal'. Lance Corporal Edward Leveratt spent six months as an infantry soldier in Helmand province, going out on regular patrol and coming under fire from the Taliban.
Yet at the end of his tour of duty he was told he could not return to his civilian job at Barclays headquarters, where he managed a team of security guards and worked as a personal bodyguard to Bob Diamond, the chief executive.
An employment tribunal found that at a key meeting in May 2008 when L/Cpl Leveratt's future was discussed, Neil Woods, a security manager employed by Barclays, "explained very forcefully that Barclays had fully funded the Claimant's close protection course on the understanding that the Claimant would not be leaving to serve overseas.
"When this apparently happened shortly after it was seen as a betrayal of the agreement. ... Mr Woods was adamant in saying that the Claimant would not be allowed back."
Employers are required in law to accept reservists back into their old positions. In January 2009, Barclays gave a new reason for its refusal, saying that L/Cpl Leveratt had been identified as a "disruptive influence".
The tribunal heard that Mitie Security, the firm which was contracted to run Barclays' security and which employed L/Cpl Leveratt, had tried unsuccessfully to persuade the bank to accept his return.
Nevertheless, it found that L/Cpl Leveratt had been unfairly dismissed by Mitie in March 2009, and awarded him £8,737 in compensation. He had been offered a different position by Mitie, on similar terms and conditions, but turned it down.
L/Cpl Leveratt said he felt as though he had been "stabbed in the back". He added: "I didn't expect to spend six months in Afghanistan only to then spend two years fighting for my employment rights. "I really wondered what the value was in serving to then be treated like that."
He said he also felt let down by the Ministry of Defence, after it failed to persuade his employers to take him back, then told him that he would have to fund his legal battle himself.
The tribunal judgment criticised the reasons given by Barclays for not allowing L/Cpl Leveratt back, describing them as "to say the least vague in the extreme". It ruled that Mitie did not do "everything that [it] reasonably [could] to avoid or mitigate the injustice brought about by the stance" of Barclays."
The MoD and Mitie were unable to comment on the tribunal verdict. A spokeswoman for Barclays said the bank "would not comment on a case in which we were not directly involved".
L/Cpl lost a separate claim that he was a victim of discrimination, which could have attracted a higher payout, because the law on discrimination only protects specified groups – including ethnic minorities and homosexuals, but not members of the armed forces.
L/Cpl Leveratt joined the TA in 2000. He began working at Barclays in 2005 under a different contractor, OCS Security, and rose to the rank of control room manager, earning £35,000 a year.
In June 2007 he was mobilised and spent five months training in the UK, along with three of his colleagues at Barclays. The bank organised a reception for all four men, to "wish them well on their deployment".
L/Cpl Leveratt left for Afghanistan in October 2007 and spent an "extremely challenging" six months with 52 Brigade in Helmand province as an infantry solider, mainly stationed at forward operating bases. He came under fire from the Taliban several times and served in an Incident Response Team, responsible for recovering casualties from the battlefield.
He then returned to the UK in May 2008 to find that another company, Mitie Security, had taken over the Barclays HQ security contract. It was then that Mr Wood told Mitie "very forcefully" that L/Cpl Leveratt would not be permitted to return to his old job, the tribunal heard. When officials at Mitie wrote to Barclays to ask why L/Cpl Leveratt could not return the bank stated, in January 2009, that the soldier had been identified as a "disruptive influence".
L/Cpl Leveratt was then offered another position by Mitie, on similar terms and conditions, which he turned down. He was dismissed in March 2009. His tribunal victory arises from a judgment made in September but not reported until now.
He said the verdict came as a "relief" and added: "It vindicated my opinion when people around me told me I was wasting my time. It felt like I had made a stand."
The tribunal judgment criticised the reasons given by Barclays for not allowing L/Cpl Leveratt back, describing them as "to say the least vague in the extreme".
It ruled that Mitie did not do "everything that [it] reasonably [could] to avoid or mitigate the injustice brought about by the stance" of Barclays.
Mitie argued that even if it had tried harder to return L/Cpl Leveratt to his job at Barclays, the attempt would still have been unsuccessful. But the tribunal panel disagreed, ruling that: "We feel that if, in May 2008, Mitie had said to a company of the standing of Barclays that they were dealing with the return of a reservist who had statutory rights to ask for reinstatement, that was a matter which needed to be – and would have been – considered very seriously by Barclays."
L/Cpl Leveratt said: "Barclays were given the opportunity to investigate and recognise that a member of their staff had taken a bad decision. They responded with a letter saying 'Not our problem – it's down to Mitie'."
L/Cpl Leveratt, who now works as a sales manager for a defence technology company in the Middle East, added: "Employers need to be aware that when they let a reservist go he's going to come back, and he has every right to come back – and they should not think that they can bully their way out of it."
Stephen Simpson, an employment law expert at XpertHR, a human resources website, said the case highlighted how employers need to be aware of their legal obligations to reservists.
He said: "Companies need to be aware that members of the reserve forces who have been mobilised generally have the right to be reinstated in their former job within six months of demobilisation on terms and conditions no less favourable to them than if they'd not had the enforced absence.
"If it is not reasonably practicable to reinstate a reservist in his or her former job, he or she must be re-engaged in the most favourable occupation and on the most favourable terms and conditions that are reasonable and practicable in the circumstances. "The award of over £8,000 in this case shows how seriously employment tribunals are prepared to take these obligations."
British Liberal leader lampoons PM's support for marriage as a 1950s throwback
Nick Clegg last night opened up a damaging new rift with David Cameron by ridiculing the Prime Minister’s support for marriage as a throwback to the Fifties. In a direct challenge to Mr Cameron’s views, the Deputy Prime Minister describes tax breaks for married couples as outdated nonsense and takes a swipe at the image of the traditional nuclear family.
‘We should not take a particular version of the family institution, such as the Fifties model of suit-wearing, bread-winning dad and aproned, home-making mother, and try to preserve it in aspic,’ the Liberal Democrat leader will say in a speech tomorrow.
The comments amount to a direct assault on the beliefs of the Prime Minister and many leading Tories. Barely six months ago, Mr Cameron issued an impassioned statement of his belief in marriage by saying: ‘I am pro-commitment, I back marriage and I think it’s a wonderfully precious institution.’
Mr Clegg’s outspoken remarks – which will be seen as a desperate attempt to shore up the party’s crumbling grassroots support – cap the Coalition’s rockiest period since it was formed 18 months ago.
Relations between the Government allies have fallen to their lowest ebb after last week’s bitter public row over Europe when the fervently pro-European Mr Clegg disowned Mr Cameron’s decision to veto a new EU treaty. He said he was bitterly disappointed by it.
Yesterday, Mr Clegg kept up the attack by accusing Eurosceptics of stoking up ‘xenophobia and chauvinism’. In his comments on the family, to be made in a speech to Left-wing think-tank Demos, Mr Clegg will stress his implacable opposition to Mr Cameron’s plans to give tax breaks to married couples. ‘We can all agree that strong relationships between parents are important but not agree that the State should use the tax system to encourage a particular family form,’ Mr Clegg is expected to say.
Last night, Tory MPs condemned the Lib Dem leader for his attack on marriage. Priti Patel, MP for Witham, Essex, claimed that Mr Clegg’s ‘liberal ideal of partnerships’ had ‘led to the moral breakdown in society’.
Ms Patel, 39, who is married with a three-year-old son, added: ‘We should be supporting the traditional concept of marriage and family. I would urge the Prime Minister to call Mr Clegg’s bluff and press on with introducing tax help for married couples.’
Is the honeymoon over? Mr Clegg's latest remarks cap a tough few weeks of public disputes within the Coalition
Mr Clegg – married with three children, but in charge of a party whose members traditionally take a more relaxed view of the institution – will compare the Lib Dem notion of an ‘open society’ with Mr Cameron’s much-trumpeted Big Society of greater community involvement and devolving power.
His provocative comments come as Lib Dem MPs are still recovering from Mr Clegg’s abrupt U-turn last weekend over Mr Cameron’s veto, which the Deputy PM initially supported before suddenly changing his mind. He warned Britain would look like a ‘pygmy’ if it left the EU.
Sources say the volte-face came about after party grandees, including Lord Ashdown and Baroness Williams, urged him to show some ‘steel’ in his dealings with the Prime Minister.
One senior Lib Dem MP said: ‘We were all on the same page, happy with Nick’s initially conciliatory response, but then there was this barrage of behind-the-scenes Europhilia from people such as Shirley Williams and Paddy Ashdown. They got to him. ‘Most MPs think it was entirely stupid to have one position and then stage a U-turn.’
Last night, Mr Clegg’s aides denied he had been persuaded by Lord Ashdown to harden his views on the EU negotiations, saying: ‘Nick made his own mind up.’
Aides to Mr Cameron declined to comment on the Deputy Prime Minister’s latest attack.
Australia: When the courts are as guilty as the criminal
The courts have enabled this woman to keep attacking the elderly. They are her accomplices
ONE of Queensland's most notorious thieves has again escaped a penalty for a vile crime. Kim Scully received another tongue-lashing from a magistrate this week but in the end received a conviction and no further penalty for using her baby son's pram to steal the purse of a 63-year-old woman.
Scully has walked free of custodial sentence so often that one magistrate admitted he stopped counting. She is in jail today not because of the crime involving the baby's pram. Instead she is in custody for violating the parole she received after being convicted in June of other thefts.
Police have constantly vented frustration. Those feelings were best summed up by one senior police officer, who, after learning Scully was back before the courts, said: "She (Scully) could get away with murder."
Scully's 18-year criminal career has followed a pattern - most of her victims are older, frail and easily scared. Since her life of crime kicked off in 1993, Scully, who has had drug issues, has preyed upon up to 50 people aged in their early-60s to mid-90s. Almost all of her victims were out shopping when she went after them.
When the 41-year-old mother-of-four stood in a Brisbane court yesterday, it was as a person who has spent more time there than almost any other petty criminal. On some occasions Scully has stolen within hours of walking away from court.
Magistrate John Costello on Thursday said Scully had been given, and failed, more chances at probation than anyone he had ever seen. "I ... almost gave up counting (the number of) probation orders (and actually) gave up counting at 2010," he said. "It's a worry. (Scully) has a routine for picking her victims and they are elderly females."
Mr Costello said Scully's claims, during almost every court appearance, that she had learnt her lesson and was keen to rehabilitate were contradicted by her "five pages" of criminal history.
In March 2005, Sandgate magistrate Pam Dowse told Scully her behaviour made her "sick to the stomach". Ms Dowse made the comments while giving Scully two years' probation for stealing purses from three elderly women.
In June, District Court Judge Deborah Richards told Scully: "I'm not convinced you're really committed to your rehabilitation. "You've have had plenty of chances at probation ... and if you offend while you're on parole they (prison authorities) will ... (send you) straight to jail."
Judge Richards' comments came while sentencing Scully to two years' jail for stealing from four victims aged 75 to 84 in June and July last year, but she was immediately released on parole.
Scully's lack of respect for the courts and chances she has been given have been demonstrated by her pattern of reoffending within hours of leaving court - sometimes while still dressed in the same outfit in which she appeared before the judge or magistrate.
Last year The Courier-Mail revealed a heavily pregnant Scully had travelled to a Redcliffe supermarket and stolen from a 79-year-old woman less than three hours after Judge Michael Noud gave her yet another "one last chance". Judge Noud had told her: "I think you should be given another opportunity on probation to rehabilitate yourself."
On June 3 this year, Judge Richards showed her similar mercy by jailing her, but ordering her immediate release on parole. Less than a week later Scully allegedly struck again and was subsequently charged with a "dozen" offences and ordered to stand trial on eight separate occasions.
However, Legal Aid solicitor Kathryn Volk, for Scully, this week said police had dropped charges against Scully on all but one of those matters.
Local nanny state rules driving Australians mad
ANIMAL owners, charities and even the Scouts have become the target of wacky council bylaws and ratepayers have had enough.
Peacock owner Tiffany Ashman, 44, was outraged to find new laws proposed by the Yarra Ranges Council would force her to buy a permit for each of her four prized birds.
Ms Ashman, of Woori Yallock, hit out at the council for increasing the red tape for everyday citizens. "Frankly it is none of their business what birds I own," Ms Ashman said. "I live on rural land and I've never had a complaint from anyone. "How far are they going to take this, do I have to get a permit for everything I do?"
The 77-page document released by Yarra Ranges proposing new laws next year also cracks down on charities and community groups, like the Scouts, who will need permits to sell raffle tickets and hold cake stalls.
The latest move follows hundreds of controversial decisions made by Victorian councils in the past five years. Casey Council almost banned kites from parks last year, but the law was later scaled back to restrict battery-operated aeroplanes.
The Bass Coast shire shocked families last year when it almost passed a bylaw forcing parents to buy a $100 permit for children to camp in their own backyards.
Yarra Ranges planning, building and health director Andrew Paxton said the draft was a talking point and residents were invited to give feedback.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.