Scottish landlord faces judicial review over sackings
Britain's biggest landlord is to face a judicial review over the sacking of two elected tenant committee members. Glasgow Housing Association will be accused of breaches of natural justice and the Human Rights Act. Should the court action succeed, GHA could be forced to reverse the sackings. In May GHA threw Colin Deans and Billy McAllister off its governing management committee for alleged breaches of an internal code of conduct. The two men had been elected in October 2003 by substantial majorities of tenants. Now Colin Deans has won legal aid to fight the decision to remove him in the Court of Session, and lawyers expect Billy McAllister to do the same. Solicitor Mike Dailly, representing Colin Deans, has written to GHA demanding that nothing is done to replace him, or to abolish his seat on the committee. Unless GHA agrees in writing, Mr Dailly will seek an interim interdict against the association. Mr Dailly's letter states that GHA failed to observe the principles of common law and natural justice. He quotes Article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, saying that the allegations of misconduct placed Colin Deans' reputation at risk of serious damage. The fairness of the private hearing at which Mr Deans was expelled is challenged on several grounds. GHA's lawyers, Harper Macleod Solicitors, had been criticised by Mr Deans over their handling of an eviction case, Gibson v GHA. Although GHA has never published details of the allegations made against either man, it is widely understood that many of them related to this court action. Mr Dailly writes, ‘Harper MacLeod could not be impartial in any investigation arising in whole or part from that case.' Other criticisms include GHA's alleged failure to allow Mr Deans to challenge the evidence prepared by Harper Macleod, or provide his own witnesses. Asked about the procedures followed at the hearing, a GHA spokesperson said: ‘We're happy and the regulator is happy.' The spokesperson said GHA had not published the detail of the allegations against the two men as this was a ‘private matter'. GHA had made a statement indicating which sections of the code of conduct had been breached, and the men themselves ‘knew exactly what they were accused of'. Rod Mackenzie, a solicitor with Harper Macleod who compiled evidence and advised at the hearing, said: ‘I personally had no involvement in the Gibson case. I don't feel that either Harper Macleod or I had a conflict of interest. We act in our clients' interests.' Last week Glasgow Council's Scottish National Party leader John Mason combined with Scottish Socialist Party councillor Keith Baldassara to protest about the sackings. Responding, GHA chair Isabel McEwing said there had been a thorough investigation and the ‘gravity of the offences was such that the removal of the two members was required'.