Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Criminal Conviction - Perjury

A party or witness is usually required to give evidence on oath or affirmation. To lie having sworn an oath or affirmation could result in criminal conviction for perjury.

So begins the House of Commons 2003 paper on Employment Tribunals. It’s in the second line that I find the knot in my stomach turn to cold, hard stone.

There is a chance, a future in which we can move forward with victory in our strides. But, I have to wonder, at what cost?

You’ll have to forgive me for this, I need to rant, and blogging it is a good form of counselling that helps work out the issues. If I don’t, it’s going to eat me up like it’s done before and I just can’t afford the counselling on top of my physiotherapy. Anyone know a good psychiatrist?

This morning whilst I was borrowing my parents’ portable fridge to replace mine that had broken at some point between yesterday morning and this morning – sigh! Warm milk for breakfast – Dad couldn’t stop himself from showing me the latest documentation he’d received from the NSPCC.

For those of you not in the know, my brother was unfairly dismissed by his previous employer (my current employer) on the grounds of having had a relationship with a student – big whoop, it did the local newspapers and nothing more (for which, in hindsight we are thankful – having seen the Daily Mail spread of the former Head of Year 11 from the same school for her own student-affair we decided in was bad enough that local people could make up their own minds about what was going on… let alone nationally. Trust me, give the people a titbit of information and they can run miles with it, just take the McCann’s for example).

Anyhoo, although we were successful and proved that my brother was unfairly dismissed, we couldn’t prove wrongful dismissal. Our angle was that the senior staff had prior knowledge of the relationship. Why is this important?

Simply, because if the school (as in the senior staff) had prior knowledge and did nothing about it they a) were putting their students at risk, and b) were condoning the act, therefore removing responsibility from my brother.

We could prove that as high up as the deputy headteacher had prior knowledge, despite a key witness refusing to come forward because of still having to work with the deputy. We couldn’t prove the headteacher had prior knowledge. And since they’d not allowed the deputy head to stand as a witness (to avoid perjury), the evidence we did have – two witness statements – were deemed irrelevant.


So, why is the NSPCC documentation important?

My brother was suspended in July 2004 on grounds of inappropriate behaviour – this is a small aside that assisted in us achieving unfair dismissal. The relationship didn’t become a part of the investigation until April 2005 (9 months after he was suspended, 7 months after the student involved was interviewed). My brother wasn’t interviewed about the relationship until April 2005, and yet the school had officially (we thought) known about the relationship as early as September 2004.

That didn’t rub with the tribunal – they didn’t care about technicalities such as that. We thought it was important that the school had, in knowing, tried to hide the fact in the hope they could dismiss him with the original charges – which fell flat on their face through contradictory and superficial evidence.

Again it’s all by the by. What’s important about the NSPCC documents is that the headteacher made it clear she had no prior knowledge – certainly not before the student’s interview (September 2004) – and yet the documents prove she did.

This therefore is perjury, and perjury can carry a criminal conviction.

Dad’s going to the Crown Prosecution Service regardless of what new evidence he finds, but this helps prove the local authority have been lying, which is good. We’ve already got enough evidence about their attempt to crucify my brother and have him put on the sex offenders register using illegal and false documentation – we were lucky that the Government rejected the documentation – but this again was an illegal act upon which we can take vengeance.

The bad thing is that this doesn’t help the healing process – what we’ve all learnt to live with, locked up in a cancerous lump of three long wasted years dealing with the case, is now resurfacing, and all the bitterness and anger associated with that and what I feel was betrayal and abandonment by the people I thought were my friends is back in my throat – all these reasons why Laura and I will be seeking to move away from Bracknell as soon as our courses are done, in the hope we can start afresh and finally leave it all behind.

But, what good is revenge? For none of this will help my brother now. It may make us feel for a short time like we have been fully vindicated, but what else? What purpose?

I still have pangs of anxiety as the memories return: of representing my brother against my own employer, attempting to get the truth from possible witnesses (no easy feat since you can’t subpoena anyone), dealing with the shock that so few people are prepared to speak, that they’re all far more interested in getting on with their lives, questioning the head teacher at industrial tribunal, or of watching my father fall apart under the pressure and finally telling him that I would represent my brother in court instead.

Nothing will remove those now. They have stripped the good humour from me and made me bitter, turned me cynical. Hate pumps from my heart and it won’t let me live my life.

1 comment:

esruel said...

Hey Rich, you have my deep sympathies. A friend of mine from where I used to work in Local Government was bullied by his manager, who also encouraged it in others. I supported my friend when I left (I didn't know he was bringing an action until I left). Unfortunately, the fuss it caused went to his head, and despite my pleas to him to get a private lawyer, he revelled in it and took most of his advice from his brother-in-law, who was (unlike you) out of his depth. Needless to say, he ended up being punished himself with anger management courses and is now a figure of further ridicule. I hope your family gets proper redress, mate.