Date: Tuesday 9 September 2003
Embargo: Wednesday 10 September 2003 at 00:01am
From: Tim Field at Bully OnLine and the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line
Attention: news editors, education correspondents, civil rights organisations, trade unions
National Union of Teachers
backs 100,000 UK pound web libel claim against
anti-bullying campaigner and author Tim Field
Former National Union of Teachers (NUT) area representative and now Oxfordshire County Council education officer (personnel) officer Tom Long is suing well-known anti-bullying campaigner Tim Field for ~100,000+ in a High Court web libel action.
Mr Long, from Faringdon, Oxfordshire, is, with the backing of NUT solicitors (Graham Clayton Solicitors) claiming that an article which appeared on Mr Field's web site Bully OnLine was defamatory.
The article alleged that Mr Long, in his role as NUT area representative, had failed to adequately represent NUT teacher members in Oxfordshire in the late 1990s. The article went on to report that Mr Long subsequently accepted a job in the education department of Oxfordshire County Council and that by implication, Mr Long~s change of job constituted a conflict of interest given his involvement in and knowledge of thirty or so teacher bullying and stress cases at that time.
Mr Field, 51, from Didcot, Oxfordshire, set up his UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line in January 1996 and corresponding web site (now the most comprehensive of its kind) Bully OnLine at www.bullyonline.org in January 1998. Teachers and lecturers have consistently been the largest group of callers and enquirers. By the end of 1999 at least 80% of UK teacher callers and enquirers were members of the National Union of Teachers, many of whom reported being refused support by senior officials of the NUT and by the NUT's legal department.
Because so many Oxfordshire NUT members were finding progress in their cases frustrated by the refusal of their union to support them, a teacher support group called OXBOW was established in Oxford in 1997.
NUT members said they faced losing their job, career, income, livelihood and health (and sometimes marriage and home) as a result of bullying, usually by a superior, and that they believed their circumstances of loss and detriment were compounded by the NUT area representatives failing to provide support and access to legal services to which they were entitled.
Tim Field is recognised worldwide for his insight and advocacy on issues of bullying. He is an author, publisher, speaker and seminar leader who is in regular demand for radio, TV and print-media interviews.
Field believes that the National Union of Teachers should, as their name indicates, be defending teachers against bullying, harassment and the wide range of issues affecting those working in the front line of education today.
"As trade union member myself, I~m appalled that a fellow trade union is squandering members' subscriptions on vexatious civil legal actions to silence those who hold the union~s senior officers accountable. By mounting a civil case on behalf of a former NUT senior official who is now an employer~s personnel officer with whom teachers are in conflict, the NUT is inviting comments of inner-circle croneyism.
"With around ~18,000,000 of regular members subscriptions flowing in each year the NUT seems, over the last decade, to have strayed from its Trade Union principles. By its actions, and by making the services of the NUT's solicitors available to an employer's personnel officer for the pursuit of a high-profile civil action whilst NUT teacher members throughout England complain of being denied access to the NUT's legal service, the NUT is bringing into disrepute the Trade Union movement and the vast majority of union officers, including local NUT officials, who act diligently on behalf of their members.
"The last thing the TUC wants, especially during Conference Week, is one of their members acting in a manner which brings the unions into disrepute by inviting adverse comment and investigation. The actions of senior NUT officials are not above scrutiny and I am asking NUT teacher members to look closely at how their subscriptions are being spent and whether they are receiving the legally and contractually-binding services to which they're entitled.
"Whilst the NUT is not unique in attracting attention for its lack of support for members in bullying and stress cases, it~s the NUT which continues to feature most prominently in calls to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and enquiries to its web site Bully OnLine at www.bullyonline.org", says Field.
Field concludes, "Action is needed by rank and file members to restore the NUT to its once-respected status as Britain~s leading teaching union, a crown which it has lost. Until such action is taken, todays' newly-qualified teachers should ask some searching questions before joining a teaching union."
Field says he will call upon a decade of experience dealing with bullying to defend the case vigorously and robustly. He is asking for anyone with experience of being denied union representation or access to union legal resources in cases of bullying to get in touch with him at email@example.com
- ends -
Articles and documents
The alleged libel: www.bullyonline.org/schoolbully/truancy.htm#NUT
Threat of libel action by Graham Clayton Solicitors: www.bullyonline.org/news/feb03-25.htm
Libel writ by Oxfordshire County Council education officer (personnel) Tom Long supported by Graham Clayton Solicitors: www.bullyonline.org/news/aug03-nut.htm
Tim Field~s defence: www.bullyonline.org/news/aug03-defcon1.htm
For contact details of those mentioned in the news release email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted by Tim Field
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