Many people have asked me how I have found the strength to continue my long and painful battle for justice in the employment tribunals. This is the second piece of the “Champions Series” in which I introduce those who have cheered me on throughout my horrific ordeal against a faceless Academy chain.
18 months ago I found myself in a predicament relating to my employment. Desperate to find help, I emailed hundreds of organisations. Due to the nature of the events surrounding my dismissal, I felt individuals and organisations working in the third sector or within the Muslim community in particular – many of whom marketed themselves as pioneers in the hate crime industry and receive a great deal of public funding to do so – could relate and offer their support. There were more outgoing emails than incoming emails and soon I realised I was very much on my own on this road to pursuing justice.
One particular individual however, has been there from the very outset: Liam Byrne, my MP. I still recall the very first email I sent to Liam regarding my employment issue. It was past midnight and I sat there glaring at my laptop screen wondering whether to click the send button. I just didn’t think I would receive a response but in my mind there was this tiny voice “you won’t know if you don’t try.” A few days later Liam’s caseworker provided me an appointment to meet with him and ever since, Liam and his amazing team have provided me support every step of the way. Liam has written to the Education Secretary highlighting the wrongdoing of an Academy chain that reports directly to the Department for Education. He has also written to the Head of Legal Aid in support of my Legal Aid application, and to the Chief Executive of E-ACT, David Moran. While my legal aid application was unsuccessful (a story for another day), and David Moran’s response was hostile, having Liam’s voice in my corner was incredibly empowering and encouraged me to continue to fight the injustice that occurred against me.
I have been juggling a full-time PhD with part-time work (to mitigate my losses for the tribunals and finance my PhD), as well as representing myself in court. Many people blatantly told me there was prospect of winning. The slightly more ambitious lawyers told me the maximum I could win was a week’s wages and I told them, I frankly did not care how much I would win or lose, this was about right and wrong, and I had clearly been wronged! From the very first time I met with Liam however, he told me I had a strong and straightforward case. He did not know at the time how much his words meant to me, but they were a lifeline. They were my light in a dark and difficult time, when I could barely get out of bed to draw my curtains. As a result, one of the most precious lessons I take away from the legal battle and one that I will forever hold close to my heart, is how rare and exceptional it is to have someone believe in you. It is a wealth like no other.
On 27th March 2017, the Birmingham Employment Tribunal found in my favour.
Liam made justice possible for me.