Irvine snubs hearing on job for crony
Sunday 21 March 1999
Tomorrow he will be accused of sexual and racial discrimination at a tribunal hearing in Croydon, south London. And, in a style Cardinal Wolsey would have approved of, he is refusing to attend the hearing, which is expected to last until Friday.
The case, he claims, is "mischievous and political". Jane Cocker and Martha Osamor, the women bringing the action, have no complaint with the "political" charge - they believe the case exposes the cronyism at the heart of New Labour.
At issue is the appointment in 1997 of City lawyer Garry Hart, a close friend of Lord Irvine and godfather to Tony Blair's daughter, as special adviser to the Lord Chancellor. It was, allege the two women, "jobs for the boys". The post was not advertised. The procedure for appointing a special adviser is approved by the Civil Service, although the final decision rests with the Prime Minister.
Ms Coker, a well-known immigration lawyer, and Ms Osamor, a law centre worker, say that failure to advertise the post guaranteed a "jobs for the boys" appointment and showed contempt for equal opportunity policies.
The incident is the latest in a growing list of "crimes'' the Lord Chancellor has been accused of.
Mr Blair was introduced to Cherie Booth by Lord Irvine when both were pupils in his chambers. "Cronyism" cried the critics when he was appointed Lord Chancellor. And then came the refurbishment of his official residence in the Palace of Westminster; the bill for the wallpaper alone came to pounds 57,233.
The controversy did not end there. Lord Irvine, given enough rope, was happy to hang himself as well. In an interview with the Times in December 1997, he made his infamous Cardinal Wolsey comparison.
Further controversy followed in May 1998 when he referred to the Prime Minister as "young Blair", a remark he claimed was laden with familiar irony rather than meant as derogatory.
Then in October he angered many within the Labour Party when he claimed to have written some of the former Labour leader John Smith's legal essays while they were at university.
Trouble returned earlier this year when he used government stationery for private party invitations, and ended up having to pay pounds 9.80 for postage.
- 1 Liam Gallagher brands Kanye West 'utter s**t' during BRIT Awards performance
- 2 Isis burns thousands of books and rare manuscripts from Mosul's libraries
- 3 People who sleep more than eight hours are more likely to have a stroke, research shows
- 4 Kanye West climbs on table at Nando's to crowd chants of 'Yeezus' before Brit Awards 2015 performance of 'All Day'
- 5 New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Oscars 2015: Birdman beats Boyhood as Eddie Redmayne and Patricia Arquette win big - as it happened
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...
£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...