M.A.G. (UK) Ltd was recently the Respondent in an Employment Tribunal case brought by former staff Nich Brown, Paddy Tyson and Louisa Smith. The claimants obtained a judgment in their favour for constructive unfair dismissal. The case mainly concerned the relationship between the claimants and M.A.G. (UK) Ltd directors Neil Liversidge and Pete Walker who were elected to the Board in April 2012 in response to membership concerns about the poor management of MAG Central Office.
Mr Liversidge was originally nominated for co-option to the Board in November 2011, the Board having three vacancies out of seven seats at that time. Despite the Board being under-strength Mr Liversidge's co-option was blocked after Board Members were pressured to refuse his nomination. Mr Liversidge and Mr Walker were nevertheless elected at the subsequent AGM despite various efforts at preventing the same. For 25 years the convention has been that paid MAG officials are neutral in such matters, however various sources confirm that paid staff were interfering in the elections. Regrettably the staff behaviour did not improve with the election of the new Board, the efforts of which were consistently obstructed, direct instructions ignored and key management information withheld or falsified. One of the claimants made a particularly nasty attempt to undermine and blacken the name of MAG's founder and President Ian Mutch. Previous directors had experienced similar tactics as did other officers and ordinary members. It was of extreme concern that MAG Central Office was not efficient due to Mr Brown and Mr Tyson's prioritisation of their own Overland magazine and touring venture, carried out in MAG hours when they should instead have been focused on the jobs MAG was paying them to do. Their negligence of their MAG duties resulted, amongst other problems, in their total failure to manage the long-running database project and failure to attend important meetings.
The Board asked Directors Mr Liversidge and Mr Walker to take over the HR role with effect from 12 March 2013. They immediately convened staff meetings for the following Monday. Mr Brown, Mr Tyson and Ms Smith refused to attend and breached the chain of management by seeking the intervention of others not part of line management. On the weekend before the planned meetings all three filed 'notices of intended grievance' considered as final 'spoiler' attempts to prevent the meetings. The meetings went ahead and were covertly recorded by Mr Brown et al. Ironically their own recordings amply evidence the claimants' poor attitude and their disruptive behaviour along with, the then National Chair Denise Powell. Following the meetings Mr Brown was suspended pending disciplinary action. An investigation by an independent HR consultant found that MAG had grounds to dismiss Mr Brown. Ms Smith and Mr Tyson were signed off as unfit to work. All three resigned before any disciplinary action could actually be taken. MAG only incurred very small costs in this case.
MAG is naturally disappointed by the judgment which it does not accept as either fair or as an accurate reflection of the true circumstances. MAG is therefore appealing. The harm done by the claimants in the meantime has necessitated a restructuring. This has been successfully carried through and as a result MAG's work has not been affected. MAG now has a smaller but loyal and highly capable team that is accomplishing more than ever before. We are very happy and proud of them. In addition MAG has protected the monies from membership fees and the funds that members work hard to bring in as donations so that MAG never finds itself in this situation again.
MAG is completely comfortable with the morality of its position and now looks forward to concentrating on its mission - fighting for the rights of motorcyclists.
THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE
MOTORCYCLE ACTION GROUP