Peter Edwards successfully resists bid to oust the Joint General Secretary of Unite the Union

Peter Edwards, instructed by Thompsons Solicitors, has successfully defended a bid by a former General Secretary of the Amicus Union (now Unite the Union), Roger Lyons, to force the current Joint General Secretary, Derek Simpson, to stand down and to face re-election.

Mr Lyons’ claim to the Certification Officer arose out of the election that took place in March 2009 at which Mr Simpson was re-elected to the post of Joint General Secretary of Unite. Mr Lyons alleged that Mr Simpson had breached union rules and section 48(6) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act, 1992, in sending out an “electioneering” letter to members and in speaking at a meeting of the Executive Committee which was considering an aspect of the conduct of the election.  He was seeking an Enforcement Order from the Certification Officer which would have required Mr Simpson to stand down and to face a further election.

In a Judgment handed down on 23 October 2009, the Certification Officer accepted the argument put forward by Mr Edwards that the union, and the incumbent General Secretary, were fully entitled to circulate ‘electioneering’ material and that the same did not amount to a breach of the union’s rules or of the relevant statutory provision.

In respect of Mr Simpson’s participation at the Executive Committee meeting, the Certification Officer held that this did amount to a breach of the union rules, but accepted Mr Edwards’ argument that it would be inappropriate for an Enforcement Order to be made requiring the election to be re-run. Consequently, Mr Simpson could continue in office. 

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