More than two years after a former Algerian resident in the UK lodged a claim at the Central London Employment Tribunal against the Embassy of Algeria, his case has been described as being stuck in limbo as the result of interference in the Judiciary by the Foreign & Commonwealth Development Office.
The claim which falls in line with a Supreme Court decision dating back to the 18th of October 2017, was submitted in May 2018. The claimant after making several enquiries to the Tribunal spanning more than a year, had finally received confirmation of the claim’s service on the Algerian authorities on 28 October 2019. The claim had to be served through the FCDO with the Algerian embassy granted 2 months and 28 days to respond. In her letter to the claimant, Judge Joanna Wade was quoted as saying: “Regional Employment Judge Wade is pleased to confirm that the claim has now been validly served on the respondent. The respondent has two months and 28 days in which to file a response“.
Fast forward to June 2020, after multiple enquiries made to the Tribunal given that the delay had long passed, the Tribunal advised the victim that it was still waiting for confirmation of service from the FCDO and its ambassador to Algeria, Barry Lowen. The Tribunal refused to provide an explanation on why the claim was being delayed and why the Tribunal contradicted itself in its own correspondence.
Edem Torgo of the Employment Tribunal is quoted as stating in a formal correspondence dated 26 June 2020 “The Employment Tribunal is still waiting for confirmation from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that the claim has been served through the diplomatic channel on the Respondent“.
According to an employee of the UK’s Ministry of Justice, interviewed by the Algiers Herald, the FCDO is clearly obstructing the administration of justice, “the law is clear in that regard, perverting the course of public justice is an offence under the laws of England and Wales, punishable by a maximum term of life imprisonment (…) the FCDO committing acts of this nature greatly damages public confidence in the Judiciary and the standing of the UK on the international stage“.
The FCDO refused to comment on the case when approached, however, one of its employees accepted to comment under the condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals, he was quoted as stating “with this case, the government has effectively turned the UK’s Judiciary into one you would find in some banana republic. If Supreme Court decisions are no longer binding, then the British public should be informed“.
‘Justice du téléphone’
The subjugation of the Judiciary by the UK’s government for commercial, financial or political interests marks a dangerous precedent in a United Kingdom slowly drifting towards dictatorship, beyond undermining the credibility of the Supreme Court itself.
In Algeria, it has long been a common practice known as ‘justice du téléphone’, a practice under which judges issue judgments based on instructions ‘coming from above’, generally through phone calls or text messages.
The Embassy of Algeria in London and its counterpart in Algeria refused to comment. Dominic Raab’s office has been approached for comment.
This article was edited for clarity on 27/10/2020 at 18:00 GMT.