The somewhat less lovely Candy Atherton MP is alleged to have asked Paul Phillips, her former gay research assistant, to “dig the dirt” on her gay Tory rival and look for anything “salacious” in the past of Ashley Crossley, who is running for her seat. Phillips refused and resigned from his job and is now beginning proceedings for discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Phillips argues that to be asked to root around for gossip was offensive and not part of his job description as a research assistant. How touchingly naive. Rooting around for offensive gossip is my role anyway.
He told the tribunal hearing earlier this week that Crossley’s sexuality became the focus of the MP and her campaign team because they “didn’t know him and couldn’t find out any information about him”. Tribunal chairman Mary Stacey said that Phillips felt used by his employer. But now he’s strong, you think he’d crumble, you think he’d lay down and die, Oh no, not he, he will survive….
“He is an openly gay man who felt he was used by his employer to make inquiries into somebody’s sexual orientation,” she told the hearing. “As a gay man, he feels it is offensive to think of someone’s sexual orientation as something salacious that would be given undue prominence because he is not heterosexual.”
“It took all the strength I had, not to fall apart, kept trying hard to mend the pieces of my broken heart, and I spent oh so many nights just feeling sorry for myself, I used to cry, Now I hold my head up high, and you see me somebody new, I’m not that chained up little person still working for you.”
Tory Ashley Crossley has other enemies (see). He was faced with a deselection vote earlier this year, in a row with local Tories tainted with homophobia. Despite him receiving support from party leader Michael Howard, some local councillors objected to him and have since resigned.
Labour MP Candy Atherton’s only previous claim to fame is that she fought and won a ban on pair trawling, ironic really that she wanted her gay assistant to go cruising for her.
Mr Phillip’s tribunal case is likely to continue in the New Year. Guido will, of course, be covering it in detail!