“Things became messier and murkier as a tribunal panel stepped down rather than hear a medical witness, the Alliance barrister accused the tribunal of bias and Ms Hawkins made demonstrably inaccurate statements. Finally, the case collapsed when the Equality Commission withdrew its financial support, citing an “irretrievable breakdown” with the plaintiff.”
Newt cuts to the quick of the tribunal resignations.
“All three panel members resigned because the chair had “difficulty” with a doctor testifying that Ms Hawkins had exaggerated her claim of disability. This was not because there was any doubt over the doctor’s testimony. It was because the panel did not think anyone claiming to be disabled should be doubted.”
A key point to be determined in the case was whether or not Ford had suggested that Eileen Bell, a party colleague, would be ‘out of her depth’ as Assembly speaker. Emerson observes,
“To portray legitimate criticism of a woman by a man as sexist by default is itself a witless prejudice.”
The thrust of the article is the usurpation of judicial functions by quangoes. Forwarding a particular agenda, powers which such bodies accrue are used on a highly partial basis, funded, of course, by the tax payer.
“The Equality Commission already has statutory powers of investigation and enforcement and a key objective of its corporate plan is “to effect change through strategic enforcement”. This makes the commission a sort of equality prosecution service, with a remit to pursue cases to advance its own agenda.”
A cautionary tale perhaps. Particularly relevant given the quangoes charter that forms the proposed NI human rights bill. If a Conservative drive to cut back quangoes is delivered Northern Ireland should not be outside its remit.