So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Relentlessly bullied by my former boss, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I recorded everything in this blog, which serves as a revealing insight into workplace bullying. WEEK 1 starts the story and, as the weeks progress, you'll note what starts as banter soon spirals out of control. Sadly, it's all true. Whilst along the way I've found alternative employment, my passion for blogging about workplace bullying remains. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him."

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

WEEK 151 Sixteen Tons

“You load sixteen tons, what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt”

Since workplace bullying gave me first-hand experience of the justice system, I never miss law related documentaries. At the moment, I’m addicted to ‘See you in Court’ on BBC1. It follows people who have been libelled by newspapers. Swap the word ‘libelled’ with the word ‘bullying’ and that’s essentially what it’s about.

In the first episode, Lembit Opik alleged he’d been libelled (bullied) by Sunday Times columnist, Rod Liddle after he’d written that Lembit Opik was an ‘Estonian loon’ with a ‘misshapen head’.

Sheryl Gascoigne alleged she’d been libelled (bullied) over a 13 year period by the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror. She’d been called a ‘lying bitch’. The papers had collectively blamed her for ruining her husband’s career.

The overall outcome was depressing. It wasn’t depressing because Lembit had to drop his claim. We all saw that one coming due to his courting of the press every time he got a girlfriend. But in Sheryl Gascoigne’s case, she won a public apology and was awarded £60,000 in all.

Having spent around £200,000 to win that £60,000, the Courts then have to decide how much of those £200,000 costs they would make the losing side pay. Costs are assessed on the ‘Standard Basis’. Judges never make the losing party (in this case the newspapers) pay for all the legal fees – because they know full well, lawyers overcharge on everything.

So ultimately, having to pay 35 – 40% of her astronomical costs, Sheryl Gascoigne’s legal win was a financial loss.

Roy Greenslade, reviewing the programme in The Guardian, asked in his blog:-

“Why, indeed, do lawyers still claim their full fees from clients after judges have decided that they are worth only 65% of what they bill?”

It’s an interesting question because where it should have been Sheryl Gascoigne’s winning case, it somehow morphed into her lawyer’s winning case. Roddy Chisholm Batten won in the end. The whole set up reminds me of two lines in Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons.

“One fist of iron and the other of steel. If the right don’t get you then the left one will.”
Best wishes,
BBTB x

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