A Glasgow law firm has threatened legal action against North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue over “defamatory” comments.
Thompsons Solicitors claims Councillor Logue told workers it was their lawyers who didn’t want to settle equal pay claims so they could make more money.
Members of the GMB union informed Thompsons of the alleged comments and the firm is currently considering what action to take.
A letter to the council from Thompsons reads: “We have been informed by clients that the leader of the council Jim Logue asserted we were stalling the process in order to make more money.
“You will appreciate how seriously we take any allegation we are in breach of our professional obligations by putting our interests ahead of those of our clients. We utterly refute this suggestion.
“We would be interested to know what evidence Mr Logue had to support this assertion. We would hope that he was not alleging that we are breaching our professional rules on the basis of mere speculation or assumption.
“We would particularly hope that such comments, tantamount to defamation, were not being made to deflect from the failings of the council in this process.
“We would point out that delay has been the hallmark of the council’s conduct of the equal pay litigation. It has always been in the council’s power to have resolved these claims at a much earlier date.
“We are seeking a retraction of, and formal apology from Mr Logue for, the assertion that we are seeking to delay matters for our own financial gain.
“We should be clear that we are currently contemplating whether we wish to take further action in relation to this matter including an action for defamation.”
Councillor Logue denied Thompsons’ allegations and claimed to be “disturbed” by GMB’s criticism of the council.
He said: “I did not suggest, and would never suggest, that GMB’s lawyers are in any way acting unprofessionally.
“I have driven the issue of equal pay hard since becoming council leader, including with GMB, who lodged claims on behalf of their members long after agreement had been reached with other trade unions.
“Council staff are working exceptionally hard to settle GMB members’ claims and GMB members should be assured that work is being progressed as quickly as possible.
“As always, the data matching process is complex and takes time. GMB officials know this only too well, and I find their willingness to besmirch the reputation of the staff involved disturbing.”
GMB also plans to write to the council about the matter.