Council workers go to court over tickets

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The Independent Online

Council workers who used internal phone lines to gain tickets for the Scotland-England Euro 2000 qualifier were today going to court in a bid to prevent their tickets being cancelled.

Council workers who used internal phone lines to gain tickets for the Scotland-England Euro 2000 qualifier were today going to court in a bid to prevent their tickets being cancelled.

The 250 workers were due to apply for an interim interdict - the equivalent of an injunction in England and Wales - at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to stop council bosses confiscating the tickets.

The staff had used internal phone lines to book tickets from the hotline, which was operated by Glasgow City Council, at the same time as fans failed to get through when the council's phone exchange collapsed.

They had yesterday been told they could not be sent the tickets, but were today due to start court proceedings to make sure they received them.

And meanwhile, a detailed investigation into exactly how many council staff were involved in the queue-jumping was continuing, as an inquiry team probed the possibility that some workers had bought more than the two tickets to which people were limited.

Branch secretary for Unison public service union Angela Lynes said they would be seeking an interim interdict as soon as a judge could be made available to carry out the necessary procedures.

She said: "The council have gone ahead and issued letters to staff and told them that they have got to return all the tickets.

"We have received further legal advice and we're going to be going for an interim interdict."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said it would contest the legal move by the union and stood by the decision to prevent the tickets being released.

But one of Scotland's top lawyers has already backed the workers and said he believed the council would lose in its bid to oppose the interdict.

Cameron Fyfe, managing partner with Glasgow-based solicitors Ross Harper & Murphy, said the staff had a contractual right to the tickets and he believed any interim interdict would be successful.

He said: "The SFA must hand these tickets to them because there is a contract between the staff member and the SFA.

"The SFA can only get out of that if they can prove there is a condition which would entitle them to withdraw the tickets or withhold the tickets.

"And I don't think anybody is suggesting the tickets had some clause in them to that effect."

He said Glasgow City Council had a right to take disciplinary action against staff, but did not have the power to force them to return the tickets.

He added: "On both counts they are entitled to those tickets and they should go to the game. You cannot come up with some ridiculous excuse that you cannot buy tickets from your place of work or whatever."

The court battle was the latest twist in the saga of the Hampden tickets which began when they went on sale last Friday.

Since then, it was revealed the council workers would face no disciplinary action, while the Scottish Football Association was forced to admit it mis-sold the public by claiming there were 15,000 seat available when the true figure was under 8,000.

There were also calls for an inquiry into the funding of the refurbishment of Hampden, after which debts of £4 million to construction group Sir Robert MacAlpine were partly settled by handing over 1,200 debenture seats.

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