Opposition councillor taking town hall and former chief executive back to court

Gareth Fairhurst and Coun Steve Jones after winning their court case last year
Gareth Fairhurst and Coun Steve Jones after winning their court case last year

An opposition politician is taking the council and its former chief executive back to court amid claims of bullying and harassment.

Coun Steve Jones, who represents Bryn in the chamber, will face Wigan Council and Donna Hall in a hearing at Manchester Civil Justice Centre in July.

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The independent representative is attempting to get a judge to set aside an earlier decision that they could not pursue action against the town hall and Ms Hall any further.

They say this was due to a mix-up with court paperwork and will attempt to prove in the hour-long hearing that there are enough grounds to hold a full hearing.

Wigan Council, though, is expected to mount a fierce challenge to the judge’s first verdict that time had run out on legal manoeuvres being set aside.

Coun Jones rocked the borough’s political scene last year when a High Court judge quashed a by-election in his Bryn seat as the opposition member had never resigned from the post.

Following that he attempted to get an apology from the local authority for its conduct, but when this was refused he decided to take further action and get the allegations against the council and its ex-leader heard in public.

Coun Jones said: “I can’t understand the council. They don’t want to apologise and want to take this as far as possible and fight it. I’m actually made up about that.

“If the judge agrees to set the order aside it will go to a hearing.

“I’m 100 per cent confident that will happen.

“It has been hard work but I’m really glad it’s got to this stage.

“It has been eating away at me that the council got away with doing what they did over the by-election.

“I hope this case will send a message that the council can’t behave the way they have done towards me.”

The hearing will take place in the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division in the city on July 16.

As in last year’s successful case by Coun Jones both the council and Ms Hall are listed as defendants as it is understood the allegations cover both work done by the local authority and in her separate capacities as returning officer for elections and as an individual.

The council downplayed the potential scope of the hearing and vowed to battle against Coun Jones’ request.

A council spokesperson said: “As Coun Jones’ claim was struck out by the courts, this hearing is to deal with an application made by the applicant to set aside the decision to strike out their claim.

“It is only listed for an hour and there will not be evidence heard on the actual claim.

“The council will be robustly defending the application, as we believe the courts’ decision that the matter should be struck out should stand.”