Langleys accused of misusing Blair connection

Langley & Co, which is representing the lawyers bringing unfair dismissal claims against CMS Cameron McKenna’s CIS group, has been accused of improperly using Cherie Booth QC’s political connections.

The allegation was made on the second day of Camerons’ application to have the unfair dismissal and discrimination claims of Dmitri Chebotarev and Natasha Thompson struck out because of delay and/or an abuse of process.

Essex Court’s Andrew Hochhauser QC, lead counsel for the respondents, argued that correspondence to the Uzbekistan authorities “implies there is some official interest in the case.”

Langleys partner Jill Andrew, who is representing the applicants in this case, says she had not seen the final draft of the letter to which Hochhauser had referred, and she regretted that the references had stayed in.

Hochhauser also says that Langleys used the fact that Booth from Matrix Chambers, the applicants’ lead counsel, is married to the Prime Minister, and that such conduct was improper. “This is a regular feature of all correspondence from your firm to the Uzbekistan authorities,” he told the tribunal.

The respondents told the tribunal that the applicants had made irrelevant submissions in their particulars, with the intention of causing embarrassment and prejudice to the respondents. This allegation was strongly refuted by Andrew under cross-examination.

Hochhauser also pointed to the number of allegations that had been dropped from the original particulars of claim, referring specifically to the allegation of unlawful victimisation and the allegation that an employee of Camerons had bribed an official.

He argued that the lapse in time of one year between the first service of claim and the particulars of claim was “unprecedented”.

In her closing submissions, Booth accepted that there had been some delay, but argued that this did not constitute the “inordinate and inexcusable” delay necessary to strike out the application.

She stressed that Andrew had never experienced in her 20 years of practice a similar case, both because of the nature of the allegations and the nature of the respondents, a large law firm with which she had previously been associated.

The respondents’ closing submissions will be made today (Monday) when the tribunal should make a decision on the delay aspects of application to strike out. If unsuccessful, the tribunal will then hear arguments relating to abuse of process.