Me v University of Stirling

Happy Christmas to all my readers. And thank you to those of you who find my blog so interesting that you copy some of my posts and send them to others, regardless of any copyright laws you may be infringing! :)

Weather permitting, St Johnstone travel to Celtic Park on Boxing day. The bookies estimate there's a probability of roughly seven per cent that they'll win. Hardly fair, is it?

Maybe they should suggest to the Premier League that they bend the rules in their favour to give them a fighting chance. How about Derek McInnes, the Saints' manager being allowed to select the Celtic team, and how about making Celtic play with just seven players, and any goals Celtic score in the first half don't count towards the final score. That should just about do it, but just to make sure, allow St Johnstone to make eleven substitutions.

I think the Premier League would give their suggestions short shrift, and rightly so.

Stirling University see themselves as having little hope in successfully defending my claim at the Employment Tribunal. So they've made some suggestions to the Tribunal that, if accepted, would give them a bit more of a chance. Of course, they're not suggesting that it's for that reason, but for honourable reasons, like saving time in a case they say I have little hope of winning, and even if I did win, it would be of little value to me.

When you make a claim to a Tribunal, the employer has to respond stating the grounds on which they resist the claim. The Uni put all their effort into trying to convince the Tribunal that my claim should just be dismissed, by saying it's unreasonable and misconceived. They said that the grievance and disciplinary procedures were handled fairly and appropriately, and that my complaints were all investigated and rejected. There was no sex discrimination, they said, apart from the sex discrimination they allege I displayed. They said that I was the major contributor in the breakdown of my working relationship with Kathy McCabe and two other colleagues. They also said that they didn't accept that I made a protected disclosure, and that, even if I did, I didn't receive any detrimental treatment. They failed to convince the Tribunal to dismiss my claim, and a hearing was scheduled to take place over January, February and March 2011.

I'm allowed to ask the Uni for written answers to questions. I asked them for the reasons why they don't accept that I made a protected disclosure. They refused to answer, saying it's irrelevant. I asked them for the facts that Eileen Schofield relied upon when deciding to reject the allegations in my grievance and to uphold Kathy's grievance. They refused to answer, saying that it's irrelevant. I asked them if they now accept that I wasn't given an opportunity to present my case at my grievance hearing. They refused to answer, saying it's irrelevant. If these issues are irrelevant, then they shouldn't have included them in their grounds of resistance! However, they are very relevant, and if they are as concerned about time as they say they are, the sooner they answer my questions, the better.

Both sides are allowed to call witnesses. The Uni has decided not to call their star witness, Kathy, even though she was allegedly able to point to evidence that persuaded Eileen Schofield that she hadn't bullied me or discriminated against me on the basis of my gender, and that I had in fact bullied Kathy. The reason they are not calling her as a witness is because she couldn't possibly have done that. This means that I have to call Kathy as a witness for cross examination in order to see that evidence she pointed to. The Uni has suggested to the Tribunal that I shouldn't be allowed to cross examine her, because they say I am "an aggrieved employee with a difference of view". That would surely describe every claimant at a Tribunal.

They are not calling the other four women, (Eileen, Selina, Jackie and Una) on whose evidence they allegedy based their decision to dismiss me. So I've called them as witnesses. I suspect the Uni realises that those women won't be able to convince the Tribunal that I should have been dismissed. I also suspect there are other, even more important reasons why the Uni will not want them to be cross examined.

They are not calling Eileen Schofield, despite her being convinced that I was the cause of the breakdown in my working relationship with Kathy. I need to call her as a witness to hear how she arrived at that decision.

They are not calling Kevin Clarke who said he couldn't see any flaws in the
grievance procedure. I'm calling him as a witness too, because I want him to explain to the Tribunal how the flaws I described to him aren't flaws.

They are not calling the two managers (Graham and Gail) who carried out the disciplinary investigation, but I need to find out from them why their investigation was so flawed. Who knows, they might tell me the truth, as they are required under oath!

The Uni is asking the Tribunal to restrict me, or my representative, to cross examining only those who made the decisions, claiming that they are the only ones with relevant evidence. They cannot possibly think that's true, especially when they are being advised by a lawyer.

They don't stop at that though. There are other advantages they want too. Normally, in a case like mine where there are elements of discrimination and victimisation as a result of protected disclosures, it is the employee who presents their case first, followed by the employer. The reverse is true when it's only unfair dismissal. I think that makes sense because the party that has to refer to the earliest incidents should go first. The Uni has decided that it would be best for them if they present their case first.

They also wish to treat my claim as if it was just one of unfair dismissal. That's their comfort zone. They want to force the Tribunal to decide if I was dismissed for a fair reason before they've heard from me about any victimisation and discrimination. They probably still wouldn't win, but their chances would be significantly greater, especially if, as they suggest, the Tribunal doesn't get to hear the very dodgy evidence from those five women and others, and they don't get to hear about the flawed grievance procedure or any of the mistreatment I had been subjected to for several years.

They were offered an opportunity to have the matter of the protected disclosures decided first. I'd imagine that wouldn't take very long because there is a clear definition of what qualifies as a protected disclosure, and the Uni is struggling to find a reason to argue my protected disclosures don't qualify. However, they rejected that offer, and I suspect that's because the natural thing to decide after that would be whether or not I suffered detriment (from which I was protected) as a result of the grievance procedure, and they wish to avoid that subject like the plague. The Tribunal would also have the protected disclosures at the forefront of their minds while listening to evidence on my dismissal.

So far, they haven't insisted that I be blindfolded and have my hands tied behind my back; but it's still early days...


Kathy McCabe - Silent witness

"Honesty goes to the core of my very being."
Kathy McCabe 6 June 2008

Kathy is undoubtedly an intelligent woman, but she is also a compulsive liar.

We all have to lie at some point, even if it's just to spare a friend's feelings. "No dear, it doesn't look big."

Kathy, however, lies constantly and possibly uncontrollably.

Lying, just like drugs and alcohol, can be addictive. It's an escape from reality and can provide the user with comfort or even a buzz. Kathy also uses it to avoid discomfort, often in an attempt to cover up previous dishonesty, or, heaven forbid, that she has made a mistake.

As with other addictions, there is a down side. Too much alcohol can damage your health and kill you. That can be a problem if you, or your friends, want you to live and be healthy. I'd imagine that being a compulsive liar would be a nightmare, but that's just the opinion of someone who claims to be fairly honest. I'd much prefer to be an alcoholic. It's much easier.

One downside is that to lie effectively, you would have to make an awful lot of effort to ensure that your lies are not detected, because that could be embarrassing and you could lose credibility, and whatever you were lying about in the first place would be uncovered, and it may lead to other lies being uncovered in a domino effect. (I tell a lie; dominos aren't uncovered, they're knocked down!).

You would need to keep a diary of all of your lies to remind you of stuff you've blurted out under pressure. Make sure nobody finds your diary. Best to deny that you own one, then you won't have to lie about what you keep in it.

Number your lies. This will help you to cross reference them, to ensure you don't ever look foolish by digging yourself into deeper and deeper holes. For example,

0001 I do not own a diary.
0002 This is not my diary. It's somebody else's. - 0001
0003 Honesty goes to the core of my very being.
0004 He has never asked to attend a conference. - 0005
0005 I have never attended a conference with him. - 0004
0006 He did receive a merit award from me. Honest!
0007 I treat the team fairly and consistently. - 0003
0008 The Uni doesn't use Oracle anymore. - 0004
0009 He bullies me, so he does!
0010 He keeps threatening to raise a grievance, but never does.
0011 He used an inappropriate procedure when he asked to attend. - 0004
0012 It wisnae me; a big boy did it and ran away.

The Uni intends to fight my claims of discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal at the Employment Tribunal. They are allowed to call any witnesses with relevant evidence. However, they have decided not to call Kathy. It cannot be because she doesn't have relevant evidence. Just as she did at the grievance hearing, she could easily refute my allegations and point to evidence that supports her case that I bullied her. I wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Job done! Case dismissed!

No, that's not why they are not calling her as a witness. Imagine the scene...

Judge: Before I ask this question, Mrs McCabe, may I remind you that you are under oath and you could go to jail if you lie.
Kathy: Honesty goes to the core of my very being, m'lud.
Judge: Do you own a diary?
Kathy: No, m'lud, and I don't keep anything in it either.
Judge: Then what's that you're reading from, Mrs McCabe?
Kathy: Erm, my diary.
Judge: So you lied to me?
Kathy: No, you asked me if I own a DAIRY, and I don't.
Judge: What do you write in your diary?
Kathy: Look, m'lud, I prefer to look to the future. So if you ask me any more questions about the past, then I'm going to look upset and leave the court. I've told you that honesty goes to the core of my very being, and that's all you need to know. If you don't trust me then there's no point in us having this conversation.

The reason the Uni won't call Kathy as a witness is because she could then be cross examined, and she would be seen as a loose cannon. There's no predicting what she might say, especially since she would be asked some very difficult questions about issues where it is obvious she has lied. She could literally say anything. Kathy lies under very little pressure and she is convinced that her lies are undetectable. There are no boundaries. Kathy won't even admit to making a mistake, so she is highly unlikely to admit to lying. That will mean that each lie (and there are lots) will have to be covered up by a bigger lie made up on the spur of the moment which she will think is undetectable, but isn't, and then she'll quickly reach the point where normally she would just change the subject or leave the room, but she won't be able to. She'll quickly pass the point where she would normally call Mark Toole and ask for help, but he won't be there to help her. The panic will increase exponentially. This will have the effect of making the lies even more absurd and even more inconsistent with previous lies she has given under oath. There will be a lot of temptation for her to pass out; just drop to the floor a la Gillian McKeith.

Judge: So if I understand you correctly, Mrs McCabe, you say that you are from the planet htraE where you were chosen by the rulers to come to Earth in an invisible spaceship in order to carry out experiments, and you can't return to htraE because you can't find your invisible spaceship and you don't remember where you parked it?
Kathy: Honesty goes to the core of my very being, m'lud.