Long time, no see!

Hello everybody and compliments of the season to you.

Sorry I have not written any articles for the past year but there’s been a lot going on…

The reason for my self imposed exile was due to a court case I was the claimaint in, against the Labour Party (I know!) well when I say Labour Party … I mean the General Secretary.

Allow me to enlighten you; (long read)

The Labour NEC met to determine whether or not Jeremy Corbyn could feature on the leadership ballot. They ruled that he could, but they simultaneously ruled that those members who joined after 12th January 2016 would not be eligible to take part in the leadership election. Additionally, a charge of £25 would be levied to register as a Labour Supporter, a significantly higher fee than the £3 previously charged. At a time when British people are once again reinvigorated by politics and political change, and clamouring to take an active part in their party of choice, they are being denied this chance. Jeremy Corbyn has inspired unprecedented growth in the Labour party membership, and those new members, and those who wish to vote in the leadership contest, should not be denied a chance to vote.

The figure of £25 was a discriminatory price that would clearly exclude a great many from being able to take part in this vote.

Many people on social media (my self included) were appalled at the action of the General Secretary in this disenfranchisement of many who were already registered supporters and who were now having to find an additional £25. One person suggested setting up a Just Giving page to help people pay their food and utility bills that they would have to borrow from in order to pay the £25 to vote.

The setting up of the Just Giving page was done quickly as people had to register to vote and pay £25 between 18th to 20th July 2016, in order to secure their right to vote. Many people were involved in this setting up process and there was no hierarchy to it, however Just Giving required a named person with whom they could communicate. We will call this person “Mary”

Many discussions took place between those involved and interested in the Just Giving page, in what would commonly be referred to as “brainstorming”. The end result of the brainstorming, was that because of the way the Just Giving site works people who wished to vote would need to pay £25 using money obtained from their household bills. The Just Giving pledges would then take the form of a hardship fund to assist people in paying for food or utility bills at a later date.

The way the Just Giving site works is as follows;

  • the donor pledges an amount of money on the site, Just Giving remove the pledged amount from the donors credit or debit card or their paypal account.
  • Just Giving retain the pledged amount until the page is closed.
  • When the page closes, Just Giving send the monies to the fundraiser

The fundraiser distributes the monies.

However on 15 July 2016, “Mary” was contacted by the National Executive Committee and told to close the page and return the monies as evidenced by the update posted on the Just Giving site.

The page was closed by “Mary” and Just Giving were contacted by her, to inform them to return the monies to the donors.

“Mary” received an e mail, dated 18 July 2016, from a NEC Compliance Officer acknowledging this and advising the fundraiser that no further action would be taken.

This is the update “Mary” posted on the fundraising page …

https://www.docdroid.net/50Tb1tE/update-150716.pdf

So to all intents and purposes, that was that.

However, on 9 September 2016, I along with many others, was suspended from the Labour Party on the grounds that I had “breached the rules on recruitment”

I had no idea what this meant and so I looked at the Labour Party rule book but could find nothing in there relating to any rules on recruitment … so I rang, e mailed and wrote to the Labour Party on numerous occassions to be eventually told that the rule I had breached was Chapter 2 Clause 2 paragraph 4A which states ” It is an abuse of Party rules for an individual or faction to “buy” Party membership for an individual or group of individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to pay their own subscriptions” 

OK. think about this for a minute … as Mary had said in her update  ;

https://screenshots.firefox.com/Y7o6IKWmUFwr7tb7/www.docdroid.net

Around this time , I received a link to an article from a Twitter “friend” concerning leaked memos from the General Secretary of the Labour Party …

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/labour-leadership-election-racist-anti-semitic-abuse_uk_57c85b1ee4b01e35922a55a0

The interesting part of that article is this …

Note that this e mail from the General Secretary has only been sent to NEC members not “ordinary” members.
Another interesting part of the article was this leaked “guidance” memo, especially the bit about “crowd funding” … bearing in mind that there was nothing specifically in the rule book about this nor had it been communicated to ordinary members.
https://i0.wp.com/img.huffingtonpost.com/asset/scalefit_630_noupscale/57c84e7f160000ef1bbfffee.jpeg
Now the interesting thing is this … the Labour Party is an unincorporated association.
The members have a contract with the organisation.
Every contrct in its simplest terms consists of 3 elements:
  • Offer
  • Consideration
  • Acceptance

So when you sign up fo membership you look at the terms and conditions they OFFER. You CONSIDER those terms and conditions and you ACCEPT the offer by filling in the application form and paying your subscriptions. Simple isn’t it.

When the contract is then varied as it was when these memos were leaked and ordinary members had not been informed of the material change to the terms and conditions, then the organisation has to once again go through the process of offer, consideration and acceptance.

It’s the law mate and no one, not even the General Secretary of the Labour Party is above the law.

Here is my witness statement, which is mostly self explanatory and which led to he General Secretarys solicitor ringing me at 2pm on a Saturday to negociate …

IN THE COUNTY COURT AT:                                                CLAIM NO: XXX                                     CARDIFF

 

BETWEEN:                      MRS GLYNIS MILLWARD           CLAIMANT                                              

                                                              and

                                              MR IAIN MCNICOL                  DEFENDANT                                      

 

                          WITNESS STATEMENT OF MRS GLYNIS MILLWARD

 

  1. I live at XXX and am the Claimant in this case. I make this statement in support of my claim for remedy due under a breach of contract. This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

 

  1. Evidence referred to is exhibited to this witness statement and is marked folio 1, folio 2 etc.

 

 

  1. For the avoidance of doubt the Claimant avers that her membership of the Labour Party gave rise to a contract between the Claimant and the Defendant and that the Defendant is in breach of that contract

 

  1. The claimant claims a refund of Labour Party membership fees for the period of suspension on the grounds that the allegation against her has not been made out, tangible recognition at the discretion of the court, for the distress and inconvenience caused as a result of being unable to cast a vote in the Labour leadership election which took place on 21 September 2016, payment of the claimants court costs to include the Litigant in Person(LIP) rate of £19 per hour in relation to work carried out in preparation of the case amounting to 12 hours to date. [folio 1]

 

 

  1. The claimant became a full member of the party in May 2015, prior to this, she had been a registered supporter.

 

  1. The claimant made provisions for her membership fees to the party to be paid annually by direct debit; the last payment taken from her account was £60.50 on 12 May 2016.

 

  1. The fees are due for renewal on or around 12 May 2017.

 

  1. On 19 August 2016, the claimant received an e mail from the Party informing her that ballots were being issued to enable members to vote in the leadership election on 21 September 2016 and that she should receive her ballot (by e – mail and in paper form) by the end of August. [folio 2]

 

  1. On 31 August 2016, no ballot had been received.

 

  1. On 31 August 2016, the claimant rang the National Helpline ; a recorded message stated that the ballots should be received by 1 September 2016; the claimant carried out the instructions referred to in the recorded message, which was to check spam/junk folders and add Labour leadership election e mail address to her contacts. [folio 3 – 7]

 

  1. On 1 September 2016, having still not received her ballot, the claimant again rang the National Helpline. After confirming the claimants’ e mail address, the advisor stated that she would re issue the ballot and that it could take 7 – 10 days to arrive.

 

  1. Following this telephone call, the claimant considered 7 – 10 days to be an excessive amount of time for an e – mail to be issued and rang the National Helpline on 2 September 2016, to query this.

 

  1. The claimant was told that the e – mails were sent via the Electoral Reform Service (ERS) a private company engaged as scrutineer, who would then issue the e – mail.

 

  1. The claimant rang ERS and was informed that the Party was dealing queries of this nature.

 

  1. The claimant rang the National helpline and was advised that the lists of those eligible to vote were sent to ERS.

 

  1. The claimant e – mailed ERS to ascertain their role in the process and was advised that the Party supply the membership list, ERS has the responsibility to ensure that all votes cast are accurately recorded & counted.[Folio 8 ]

 

  1. The claimant waited for the 7 days referred to by the National Helpline and when the ballot had still not arrived, she again rang the helpline and was told it would be re issued and should arrive in 5 days time.

 

  1. The claimant also visited the Party website and made an on line request for a re issue of her ballot.

 

  1. On 9 September 2016, the claimant received an e mail with a letter attached, signed by Iain McNicol, informing her that she had been suspended from the party for breaching the rules on recruitment [ FOLIO 9 ]

 

  1. The claimant did not know what this referred to and could find nothing in the Labour Party rule book relating to recruitment.

 

  1. The claimant immediately made an appeal refuting the allegation and requesting the following information;
  • The precise allegation against her;
  • The precise date of the allegation;
  • The source and copy the source of the allegation against her, e.g copy of the twitter or other publications relied upon to make the decision to suspend;
  • Copies of minutes of meetings, internal emails, reports, involving the criteria for the suspensions that was discussed.

 

  1. The claimant allowed 48 hours for this information to be supplied, on the grounds that the information used by the Party to suspend her must have been under its’ control or within its’ power to obtain.

 

  1. The Party did not comply with this request and the claimant informed the Party that she would be submitting a claim to the County Court.

 

  1. The court should note, that after the claim was issued, the Party supplied two screen shots of what appeared to be a social media conversation. The accompanying e mail stated that this was an “exhaustive record”. The claimant subsequently issued a “Without prejudice” e – mail for further details and a reminder on which to date, the claimant has not received.

 

 

  1. The claimant also wishes the court to note that on 10 September 2016 (the day after receiving notification of suspension) an e mail was received, which stated that the claimant would receive her ballot shortly.

 

  1. The claimant is also in receipt of an e mail sent by the legal department informing her that she would be able to vote in the leadership election; despite these assurances, no ballot was ever received.

 

  1. It was not until the defendants’ defence to the claimants particulars of claim was filed and served on or around 18 October 2016, that the claimant was informed of the specific clause/rule she was alleged to have breached.

 

 

  1. Having now been provided with the specific clause/rule that it was alleged she had breached, the claimant undertook her own investigation, the result of which is as follows:

 

  1. The Labour NEC met to determine whether or not Jeremy Corbyn could feature on the leadership ballot. They ruled that he could, but they simultaneously ruled that those members who joined after 12th January 2016 would not be eligible to take part in the leadership election. Additionally, a charge of £25 will be levied to register as a Labour Supporter, a significantly higher fee than the £3 previously charged. At a time when British people are once again reinvigorated by politics and political change, and clamouring to take an active part in their party of choice, they are being denied this chance. Jeremy Corbyn has inspired unprecedented growth in the Labour party membership, and those new members, and those who wish to vote in the leadership contest, should not be denied a chance to vote.

 

 

  1. The figure of £25 is a discriminatory price that will clearly exclude a great many from being able to take part in this vote.

 

  1. Many people on social media were appalled at the action of the defendant in this disenfranchisement of many who were already registered supporters and who were now having to find an additional £25. One person suggested setting up a Just Giving page to help people pay their food and utility bills that they would have to borrow from in order to pay the £25 to vote.

 

 

  1. The setting up of the Just Giving page was done quickly as people had to register to vote and pay £25 between 18th to 20th July 2016, in order to secure their right to vote. Many people were involved in this setting up process and there was no hierarchy to it, however Just Giving required a named person with whom they could communicate.

 

  1. Many discussions took place between those involved and interested in the Just Giving page, in what would commonly be referred to as “brainstorming”. The end result of the brainstorming, was that because of the way the Just Giving site works people who wished to vote would need to pay £25 using money obtained from their household bills. The Just Giving pledges would then take the form of a hardship fund to assist people in paying for food or utility bills at a later date.

 

 

  1. The way the Just Giving site works is as follows;

 

  • the donor pledges an amount of money on the site, Just Giving remove the pledged amount from the donors credit or debit card or their paypal account.
  • Just Giving retain the pledged amount until the page is closed.
  • When the page closes, Just Giving send the monies to the fundraiser
  • The fundraiser distributes the monies.

 

  1. However on 15 July 2016, the fundraiser was contacted by the National Executive Committee and told to close the page and return the monies as evidenced by the update posted on the Just Giving site.

 

  1. The page was closed by the fundraiser and Just Giving were contacted by her, to inform them to return the monies to the donors.

 

  1. The fundraiser received an e mail, dated 18 July 2016, from Sam Matthews, NEC Compliance Officer acknowledging this and advising the fundraiser that no further action would be taken.

 

  1. Following her suspension on 9 September 2016 and after lodging her claim with the County Court, the claimant was sent an article by a social media “friend” which had appeared in the Huffington Post, dated 1 September 2016.

 

  1. This article gave details of a leaked memo sent to NEC members, by the defendant providing them with guidelines for suspending members. Reference was made to “crowdfunding”

 

  1. It should be noted, that this memo was never communicated to ordinary members.

 

  1. The claimant again checked the Labour Party rule book, but could find nothing in them which referred to “crowdfunding”

 

  1. The claimant contends that the leaked memo, which was only sent to NEC members and not ordinary members, constitutes a variation in the contract that the claimant has with the Labour Party.

 

  1. The claimant should have been notified of this variation so that she could consider and accept or not accept it and either continue paying her membership subscriptions or cease paying them. However, despite this variation to the contract, of which the claimant was unaware, the defendant has continued to enjoy the benefit of her subscriptions.

 

  1. The claimant contends, that in relation to the contract, the alteration must be communicated as stated in Taylor v Laird (1856) [1]The offer needs to be communicated to the other party so that its acceptance may constitute a contract.

 

  1. An offer must be communicated to the person to whom the offer is made (the offeree) if the offer is to be effective.

 

  1. The defendant cannot stipulate that silence is valid acceptance of a contract. Felthouse v Bindley (1862)

 

  1. In terms implied by the courts in respect of the particular facts, the officious bystander test in Shirlaw v Southern Foundries (1926) Ltd. (1939) [2]would not in this case, says the claimant, be passed by the defendant.

 

  1. The claimant would wish the court to note that the Labour Party has itself offered gift membership in order to encourage recruitment to the Party.

 

  1. To conclude, the claimant states that no rule in the Labour Party rule book was breached as no monies were paid to anyone.

 

  1. The claimants pledge simply went on a journey from her current bank account to Just Giving and back again as evidenced by the claimants’ bank statement showing the return of the pledged amount to her current bank account.

 

  1. The defendant knew as early as 18 July 2016, that the Just Giving page had been closed and that monies would be returned to the donors by Just Giving, as evidenced by the e mail sent to the fundraiser by Sam Matthews.

 

  1. The claimants suspension on 9 September 2016 was without foundation as there were no grounds for it.

 

  1. The claimant, despite repeated requests was denied a vote in the leadership election for no good reason.

 

  1. The claimant states that one of the reasons she decided to become a full member of the Labour Party is so she could exercise her right to vote in internal elections.

 

  1. The “evidence” referred to in the defendants defence appears to have been obtained after the claimant was suspended as it refers to a twitter name containing the word “purged”

 

  1. The Claimant changed her twitter name to include the word “purged” on or around 10th September 2016, after she was suspended as this extract from the claimants Twitter archive confirms :- 2016-09-10 22:01:14 +0000   <a href=”http://twitter.com&#8221; rel=”nofollow”>Twitter Web Client</a>        @RachieJ40 @maryeffrancis Thanks hun. Anyway gives me a chance to change twitter name from posh to purged #alwayslookonthebrightsideoflife

 

  1. The claimant had not been informed of this “evidence” prior to the defence being filed and served on or around 18th October 2016.

 

  1. The defendants legal representative, in his witness statement, dated 7 November 2016, states that the claimant is responsible for a petition circulating at that time.

 

  1. The claimant is aware of the petition but denies being responsible for it. By way of explanation, the claimant is a member of a closed facebook group, set up by suspended, expelled and auto excluded Labour Party members, which also includes those who have not been suspended, as a “safe space” to share and discuss their experiences.

 

  1. When the defendant filed and served the acknowledgement of service, the claimant posted a tongue in cheek comment on the group in relation to the defendants date of birth, stating that he looked older.

 

  1. Several members asked for proof of the date of birth and the claimant posted a picture of the acknowledgement of service showing the date of birth.

 

  1. Another member noted the wording on the “defendants name” which stated “sued on behalf of all other members of the Labour Party except the claimant”

 

  1. The members on the facebook group took exception at their membership funds being used to mount a defence when they were not in agreement with it and commenced the petition as a result, on the grounds that they felt the defendant as a representative of the members of the Labour Party was using Labour Party funds, which are held in trust for the members and is relying on being able to offset his legal costs against the members funds.

 

  1. The claimant is aware that the Court has the power to apply costs directly to the named individual in a representative action and not the wider membership.

 

  1. This may be the case if the Judge felt there was abuse of process or that the defendant was abusing his position to unnecessarily drive up costs or being particularly intransigent at the expense of members.

 

 

  1. The claimant states that for the reasons as stated above, the defendant has breached the contract she has with the Labour Party and that such a matter is not relevant for transfer to the High Court as laid out in the claimants objection to the proposed draft order, filed and served on 21 November 2016, which for convenience is also enclosed.

 

  1. The claimant refers to the fundamental objectives of the CPR as stated in Part 1:

 

PART 1 – OVERRIDING OBJECTIVE

 

The overriding objective

Rule 1.1

(1) These Rules are a new procedural code with the overriding objective of enabling the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost.

(2) Dealing with a case justly and at proportionate cost includes, so far as is practicable –

(a) ensuring that the parties are on an equal footing;

(b) saving expense;

(c) dealing with the case in ways which are proportionate –

(i) to the amount of money involved;

(ii) to the importance of the case;

(iii) to the complexity of the issues; and

(iv) to the financial position of each party;

(d) ensuring that it is dealt with expeditiously and fairly;

(e) allotting to it an appropriate share of the court’s resources, while taking into account the need to allot resources to other cases; and

(f) enforcing compliance with rules, practice directions and orders.

  1. The key point is “justly and at proportionate cost.” The claim is small so the transfer would involve disproportionate costs. It would create an imbalance between the parties and increase expenses.

STATEMENT OF TRUTH

I believe that the facts stated in this witness statement are true.

[1] In Taylor v Laird (1856) the captain of a ship resigned during a voyage. The former captain provided navigation services for the remainder of the voyage even though this had not been requested by the owner of the ship. The former captain later claimed in the courts for proper remuneration for his services from the owner. The captain had not communicated his offer to provide such services. As such the owner did not have the opportunity to refuse or accept the offer as he had no knowledge of its existence. There was no binding contract.

[2] The court warned against the over-ready application of any principle to justify the implication of terms into a contract. McKinnon LJ set out his ‘officious bystander’ test: ‘If I may quote from an essay which I wrote some years ago, I then said: ‘Prima facie that which in any contract is left to be implied and need not be expressed is something so obvious that it goes without saying; so that, if while the parties were making their bargain, on officious bystander were to suggest some express provision for it in their agreement, they would testily suppress him with a common ‘Oh, of course!” At least it is true, I think, that if a term were never implied by a judge unless it could pass that test, he could not be held to be wrong .

So long story short … my suspension was lifted and the “warning” which was to lie on my file was removed. I therefore withdrew my claim from the County Court, so a win of sorts I think.

Dear Ms Millward,
I am pleased to inform you that your administrative suspension from the Labour Party has been
lifted and that you are now free to resume active membership. (extract of letter from General Secretary)

As my dear old Dad used to say … “if you see something is wrong and you can do something about it … you should”

 

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6 Responses to Long time, no see!

  1. Helen Davies says:

    It is a shame that you’ll never get a straightforward admission from them that they were wrong. They brazen it out in public, refusing to acknowledge they are wrong but when they close the doors and reflect on their actions they know what they tried to do and, because of you, so do we. And if they think twice next time it is because of you. Happy Christmas, you are an inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pat says:

    Happy and healthy Christmas and New Year!
    Come back soon.
    Very best wishes,
    Pat Hamilton

    Like

  3. Florence says:

    A win is a win! Congratulations. You have true grit to go thought this and we’re all very grateful that you are part of the fight back, We owe you a debt, for every win means another dent in the system.

    Liked by 1 person

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