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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 11:23 GMT
Irvine not guilty of discrimination
Lord Irvine
Lord Irvine is head of the judiciary
A decision by the Lord Chancellor to appoint a friend to be his special adviser did not mean he was guilty of sex or race discrimination, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

An employment tribunal in Croydon had decided Lord Irvine indirectly discriminated against Jane Coker, a white solicitor, and Martha Osamor, a black legal adviser, in giving Garry Hart a 73,000 job without advertising the post.

It does not follow, however, that this practice is unobjectionable

Court of Appeal
But that ruling was overturned by the Employment Appeals Tribunal - a decision upheld by the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Phillips, Lord Justice Schiemann and Lord Justice Mummery ruled: "Making an appointment from within a circle of family, friends and personal acquaintances is seldom likely to constitute indirect discrimination."

Despite dismissing the appeal they added: "It does not follow, however, that this practice is unobjectionable.

Garry Hart
Mr Hart is a friend of Lord Irvine
"It may not produce the best candidate for the post.

"It may be likely to result in the appointee being of a particular gender or racial group.

"It may infringe the principle of equal opportunities."

An request to make an appeal in the House of Lords was turned down.

Robin Allen QC, who represented Ms Coker, said the case raised points of "real public importance".

And he argued that the judges themselves had shown concern about their own ruling.

See also:

19 Feb 01 | Talking Politics
Lord Irvine: A 'blunder' too far?
12 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Reshuffle shows 'cronyism' - MP
16 Aug 01 | UK Politics
'Tribunals must become independent'
20 Apr 98 | UK
Lord Irvine opens his doors
23 Oct 99 | The Economy
Brown accused of cronyism
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