Friday, 1 July 2011

Joyeux Anniversaire you Vagrant blighters...

Happy birthday to us...

Well readers, we're still here. One year on and this week will mark the first birthday of Vagrants in the Casual Ward of a Workhouse. And what a week to have our first anniversary amidst the trade union banners and placards announcing the official response from below to the British Tory government's austerity program of impoverishment from above. When all is considered it has been an interesting and riotous year.

And we're not ones to shy from any drop-of-the-hat type of celebration. Due to a certain mental and pecuniorial elasticity - a self-imposed Quixotic streak allied to a strict yet fair policy of getting hammered quite convincingly on methylated spirits alfresco - we took the opportunity of putting the bitter laments to one side and cracked open a rather distinguished bottle of gut rot and raised our imaginary glasses to the devout: those who follow our weekly alliterative aggregations. It is you after all who make the products of our fragrant pen-centric shenanigans worthwhile. And it appears that every week more of you are dipping into our neo-Mayhewian nether regions.

The Vagrantal Schematic

From its inception, we adopted what we've come to term as the Vagrantal Schematic which is not in any sense related to feminine discreet deoderants. The Vagrantal Schematic was (is) premised upon the two-pronged strategy of analysing issues within the wider political sphere as well as providing an insight into a series of legal disputes we find ourselves contesting at the moment. This we do so that we might help others avoid some obvious pitfalls and less discernible allegorical (wo)mantraps. We hope these writings have provided a glimpse into the manner in which we have over the months, immersed ourselves within that arcane realm populated by senior types as well as those who implement institutional policies, codes and procedures and such like. Coffee shops, Employment Tribunals and Civil Courts have provided the stage upon which we have sought to temper our arguments, aired our evidence and countered often what are in our view quite ridiculous allegations. We have been constantly surprised by the extensivity of the assistance provided to us by wishers of well both near and afar as well as the information and documentary evidence that has been supplied to us by readers and individuals some of whom for obvious reasons, have chosen to remain in the shadows. Thank you all.

The weapon of choice - the quill

The author's most recent
passport likeness
Having availed ourselves of the dual-core quill, we are of the opinion that we have already exposed many of the remarkable allegations and abrogations of procedure to public scrutiny which has gone down well with a majority but not with a minority. In order to appeal to as wide an audience as possible we resolved to eschew the use of technical terminology (jargon) for a lexicography based firmly upon pre-1910 forms of syntax and the wilder regions of the imagination. Never ones to constrain ourselves when it came to the less than liberal appliance of sulphurous language, we rejected pithness for an excursive style, pipe tobacco and a wardrobe composed entirely of attire exclusively manufactured in the Outer Hebrides with brogues. An important part of our manifesto was a firm rejection of the internal combustion engine for a singular reliance on trouser clips and two-wheeled leg-driven perambulators.

Busy bees and Rhodal Collossi

Like members of the Bee-Borg collective we have been industrious, assiduously servicing the Queen (hereafter referred to as the legal and tribunals system). We've seen an Employment Tribunal postponed and rescheduled. We've sat in wonderment at the lengths to which the University of Salford have gone in avoiding spending vast sums of money in the civil courts. Press here to see just how little a libel claim costs these days. We've appeared in the Civil Courts twice in front of a District Judge as the University have fought tooth and nail to preserve the right to criticise freely and the right to anonymity by seeking a Norwich Pharmacal order that required of blogging hosts Wordpress to release among other things to them the:

"[u]ser access log records and writings (or a copy of the information contained therein) which evidence and identify each IP address (including date and time of the use of said IP address) associated with and/or used at any time by any person in relation to creating or modifying or posting to the Account.

We also compared and contrasted this with Martin Hall's claim that:

"...the University of Salford has not sought, nor will seek, the identity of all people posting to any site. We have rather requested through the courts the minimum information necessary to identify those responsible for specific postings for which there is a prima facie case of defamation.(1)

We've imagined the almost Herculean efforts to which the CEO of Automattic Inc (owners of Wordpress who are a blog hosting site of some renown) a Mr Toni Schneider went in defending his own company's Privacy Policy and the right to privacy of his customers by waiting to be served with a valid subpoena by a US court. To view a copy of Mr Schneider's signed affidavit press here. This one is likely to run and run...

Lack of understanding of the Civil Procedure Rules combined with this 
type of mast-based activity can play havoc with your bridge work
Twas, on day one of the rescheduled Employment Tribunal, that we received the libel claim form from the University of Salford's lawyers alleging that the University had suffered damage by 'false and defamatory words' on a blog called the Rat Catchers of the Sewers. With witness statements provided by Registrar Adrian Graves and blogger Vice Chancellor Martin Hall, the UoS retained the legal services of a chap called Ian Austin in these matters. Mr Austin bestraddles both the University of Salford and the law firm Halliwells Heatons like the venerable Colossus of Rhodes.*

Can a claim for unfair dismissal be reclassed as the eighth wonder of the world?

We sat slack-jawed like banjo playing extras from Deliverance during the rescheduled Employment Tribunal in March 2011 whilst two senior managers (a Mr Hopwood and a Mr Attwell) on behalf of the University  gave evidence, admitting under the skilled cross-examination of that Suffolk chap E S Longley that the University dismissed a certain bewhiskered fellow for bullying two members of staff despite the fact that no official complaint (as per the UoS' own Code of Conduct for Bullying and Harassment) from the two staff members could be produced! The services of two lower mandible relocators was very nearly deemed necessary by the Clerk of the Court as the two managers failed to demonstrate to the Tribunal panel just how the author had brought the University into disrepute nor indeed could they quantify to the Tribunal precisely the damage caused to the University through his authorship of the satirical Vice Consul's Newsletters (to view the dismissal letter click here).

A simple Freedom of Information request.. oh the pain... the pain
Born free...

And the coming months look like they are  going to provide even more grist to our quill. We have an appeal being heard in July by the First Tier Appeals Tribunal into the decision of the Information Commissioner to uphold the University's refusal to release information to a certain hirsute doctor (on the grounds that the UoS allege such requests were part of a wider vexatious campaign against the University). The evidence and witness testimony provided to the Appeal Tribunal by all parties can only be described as quite 'stunning'. We will of course by exploring this one in greater detail over the coming weeks as well as the evidence provided to the Commissioner by a certain Deputy Vice Chancellor in 2010 which in the opinion of this author is a bit of an eye opener.

But officer, a consequence of my prolonged exposure to a disciplinary procedure is form of 
pernicious piss derangement with an associated need to urinate directly 
down this drain without removing my trouser
We also have the second part of the Employment Tribunal claim into unfair dismissal in mid August where over three days, the manager in charge of investigating the University's allegations against me  -  a Mr Scott Mulholland - will be cross-examined by that staunch and dauntless Suffolkian. We also expect to see there a certain Executive Director of Human Resources - a Mr Keith Watkinson - who is known on occasions to wear pinstripe suits and to have partaken of our textually-situated efforts.

Yes the coming months promise to be quite explosive (metaphorically speaking of course).

Notes and References

* Austin is currently the Chair of the Audit Committee at the University of Salford as well as a partner for the law firm Heatons. To avoid doubt and further legal action the author's note that the analogy with the Colossus of Rhodes is a literary device and not a literal representation. Mr Austin is patently not massive, made of stone, mythical or indeed ancient. Just for the record, neither could a full size ocean going vessel from the 5th century BC be sailed comfortably between his legs.

(1) M Hall, Dark Side of the Internet sourced at

Note of caution: before embarking upon expensive civil litigation, contact the author for any necessary corrections at
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