Smears, lies and the Taxpayers’ Alliance
Rightwing pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance concedes it ran a smear campaign and illegally sacked whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign.
The group has also conceded that it illegally vilified Sanni on the BBC in coordination with a network of other “linked” organisations including Downing Street, the Adam Smith Institute, the Centre for Policy Studies, the Institute of Economic Affairs and Leave Means Leave. Lawyers described the case as “almost unprecedented”.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has accepted all allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and “dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy”. Sanni had claimed that the alliance was responsible for a smear attack published by the website Brexit Central, and that it coordinated “derogatory statements” made by the head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, to the BBC – calling Sanni a “Walter Mitty fantasist” and “so-called whistleblower” and claiming that he was guilty of “completely lying”. The alliance is now liable to pay substantial damages.
Chris Milsom, a barrister specialising in whistleblowing cases, said: “It is incredibly unusual for a respondent to make a complete concession on liability as the respondent has here. To wave a white flag to avoid disclosing documents and giving evidence in court is really unusual. They conceded everything. How does an ostensibly private company come to be working with Downing Street? What is their relationship? Who are their funders?
“If this had been fully ventilated in a public trial we could have found these things out. The effect of these admissions, however, is that Mr Sanni was dismissed both because he blew the whistle on electoral crimes and because of his philosophical belief in the sanctity of democracy. We must now ask: is that an entity that is fit to be on the BBC ostensibly speaking on behalf of all ‘taxpayers’?”
The Brexit whistleblower
‘Not cheating is the core of what it means to be British’
“It has proved that the TaxPayers’ Alliance [TPA] sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down.
The TPA claimed to have lost a donor because of my actions. If they had fought the case in court as we wanted, they would have had to reveal who their donors are. That they were prepared to admit their illegal behaviour on all counts shows how far they are willing to go to protect this information.
Serious questions must be asked about who is funding them, what their exact relationship is with the government and why are they allowed a platform on national television.”
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