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Former MHKs claim Treasury scheme is 'pure ageism'

Geoffrey Boot at Manx Radio

Resettlement payments not given to duo after failing to be re-elected

Two former MHKs have told a tribunal they were discriminated against by Treasury because of their age after losing their seats in last year's general election.

Geoffrey Boot and Martyn Perkins were told they weren't eligible for a resettlement payment, offered to those who aren't re-elected, because they're over 60-years-old.

Mr Perkins told the panel he was advised to pursue a case of age discrimination after consulting with the Manx Industrial Relations Service.

The former Garff member said he'd previously raised concerns that the scheme didn't comply with the Equality Act with the Clerk of Tynwald, Attorney General's Chambers and Treasury, but that no action was taken prior to last September's election.

He added that there is no reasonable expectation someone over 60 wouldn't be looking to return to the workplace.

Mr Perkins also expressed concern over how documents were disclosed to him during the process.

He revealed he wasn't able to access emails to build his case after discovering his messages had been archived after his failed election campaign, while a Freedom of Information request to retrieve them was denied.

Meanwhile, Mr Boot said not giving the payment to those over 60 was a 'grossly unfair interpretation of the scheme' adding that it is 'pure ageism'.

The former environment minister outlined how his political career had impacted his job prospects in the aviation sector, after the election, telling the panel 'my employability and skillset has gone'.

Like Mr Perkins, Mr Boot also revealed he had spoken to colleagues about the age qualification prior to the election, believing that it was contrary to the Island's equality laws.

In response, Anna Heeley, representing the Treasury, conceded that the scheme is discriminatory, but insists Treasury is bound to follow the scheme, and that a tribunal is not the place to debate the law.

Miss Heeley insisted that the scheme is not open to interpretation, and that a statutory defence allows the Treasury to discriminate as long as it is required by an enactment - she says that applies in this case.

She also questioned whether some sections of the act would apply to the two former MHKs, insisting that members of Tynwald are not directly employees of government.

Both disputed this, citing National Insurance payments, pension contributions and an employment number on their payslips, while Mr Boot added that he had been assured of his employment status by the former treasury minister and chief financial officer prior to the election.

Mr Boot's legal team disagreed with the Treasury's submissions, insisting that the context of the Equality Act has to be a factor.

The lawyer told the panel the Treasury's decision not to put forward evidence justifying the age discrimination showed it has 'wholly failed' to show it had a legitimate means to do so.

He also said the lack of evidence from Treasury meant his client's version of events was the only one the tribunal can give credit to, and urged the panel to draw adverse conclusions from the lack of evidence offered.

A recommendation from Tynwald's Emoluments Committee calling for the age qualifier to be removed from this scheme is due to be considered at this month's Tynwald sitting.

The tribunal will publish its findings in due course.

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