What Goes Around, Comes Around

Here’s something of interest to those who know me: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/news/2012/august/17/roger_moore.aspx

A little bit of background for you?

Last year, wanting to leave one job for more security, I applied to work for the Kent County Agricultural Society. I couldn’t believe the advert, the position was working as PA to the Executive Manager of the Showground, his remit was to organise and put on the longstanding, annual Kent County Show.  I applied and waited with baited breath to see if I got selected for interview.  I did have other things on my mind – Mike had just embarked on the judicial process which would, we were 99.9% sure of, end in his imprisonment.  Our days were spent working, both of us had jobs and evenings were taken up with form filling, trying to persuade the Legal Aid people we did not have £10,000 to contribute towards Mike’s legal costs. And of course, in discussion as to how I would cope with Mike being away.

And then I got an interview and Mike had his first Magistrate Court appearance.  And then I got the job and the day before starting, we were in London to attend Mike’s hearing at the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the same week, on my second day at work in my new job, Mike attended his Plea and Case Management hearing at the County Court.

Last year, the Kent Show made a loss and this was down mostly to the rain, which lashed the marquees.   After the Show, I plunged into my work dealing with all the complaints from visitors, I loved it.  It absorbed my day and took me away from issues at home.

A month later, I took a day off to be with Mike as he was sentenced to three years in prison and then I returned to work as if nothing had happened.  And two weeks later, with the burden of all that was going on gnawing away at me, I took the foolish decision to tell Roger Moore what had been happening and where my husband was.  He took the news extremely well, said that it had nothing to do with me, I’d not been accused of anything, but, and here’s the big but, he felt he should tell the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society what had been going on.

After that there was a flurry closed door meetings and naively, I thought nothing of this.  Roger went on holiday, and being his PA, I had access to his emails.  I was stunned as emails from a certain member of the board to Roger began asking about details of my husband’s crime and whether or not I should have disclosed to the Board AT INTERVIEW that my husband had been arrested.  The emails intimated that I might claim unfair dismissal if the Board chose to take action against me.  I was aghast.  I printed off the email and showed it to a member of staff there – wrong decision number two.  She actually looked fearful and told me I shouldn’t have printed off the email, but I couldn’t understand what she was talking about.  I put the email in my handbag ready to show to Mike at our next visit, I didn’t know what to do.

The image of two members of the Board marching in and telling me I needed to accompany them upstairs to a meeting and that I was entitled to bring another member of staff with me is etched into my memory.  Indeed, remembering the face of the female member of the board actually makes my stomach churn to this day.  I was suspended on the grounds of having committed a gross misconduct because I had printed and removed from the premises, a confidential email that was the property of the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society.  Even though that email referred directly to me and my husband and my continuing employ at the Society.

We went through the disciplinary hearings, I was accompanied throughout by an extremely kind and expert friend who, like me, believed that it simply was not possible for them to dismiss me on such spurious grounds.  But we were both wrong.  In the end, seeing the writing on the wall, I paid my money and consulted a solicitor.  She confirmed that I had done wrong, and on that fact combined with my mere two months of employment, I didn’t have a leg to stand on.  The only benefit of my hard earned £80.00 bill was that she wrote to the Society and asked if I could resign rather than be dismissed, something they graciously allowed me to do.  I had only ever been sacked once in my career and that was my first ever job.  I did not want this blemish to go down on my cv.

So Roger, you must know how it feels now.  Sickening.  I was lucky, as you may have realised, I am an extremely dedicated worker.  I was rocked, took a week to recover, picked myself up and applied to Sainsbury’s, thinking they might be my only route to earn money that I desperately needed now that I was fending for myself.  I nearly took the job offered to me, but when I actually sat down and worked out how much I would be paid, I realised I couldn’t afford to pay the bills.  Thankfully a job came up at a temporary agency, and the rest is history.  Impressed by my work I was offered full time employment and am happily beavering away to this day.

In my opinion, the Board of the Kent County Agricultural Society are demonstrating extremely short sightedness.  They have stated that the role of Executive Manager, and that of his secretary too I’d expect, is being axed to save money.  But the Show limps on year after year and without an Executive Manager I’d hazard a guess it’s limping into the graveyard.

How much is a wife responsible?

Did I tell you we went to court alone, they had many a solicitor on their side, we had…. well, I thing I took a twix to keep me going.  I didn’t handle this very well, I think I spent most of the time in tears thinking of the legal bills they were running up.

OK, message to all you kids out there – want to make a mint?  Study, study and study and become a solicitor.  Than basically you can charge what you like for sitting on your tooty in a chair.  Brilliant.  Why didn’t I study that hard?  Whilst in the ante-room to the court, I was besieged by a woman acting for the other side, who said the only reason she had called me at 9pm was so that we were prepared for the meeting.  Hmmm, 9pm, to my home, to me who hadn’t done anything.  Where exactly was the kindness in that act.  I just failed to see it.

I started emailing anyone I could find on the internet who might help us.  Again and again “we do not cover civil legal aid” except for one lady, Marie, who suddenly, like a lighthouse in a raging sea, suggested a company I might contact who might be able to help me ringfence my money.

You have to bear in mind that prior to marrying my husband, I had my own home, my own income, my own savings.  These were in the process of being eroded by the decisions of my husband.  Is this right?  I know you marry “for richer, for poorer” but where does the line in the sand end?  It looked like we were going to have to pay back sums of money, but where would the balance end?

We had to agree to a HUGE sum of money, and I mean HUGE, for the initial costs incurred by the forensic accounts.  Amazingly the judge thought these costs were reasonable.  You could have knocked me down with a feather.  Reasonable?  If you earned that amount of money in a year, you would have been considered extremely well paid.  I know there were a team of accountants, but really, the amount was excessive.

The only way of paying this sum of money was for an “asset” to be liquidated.  So that was one bill sorted, what about going forward?  We tried (unsuccessfully) at one point to withdrawn my inheritance passed to me by my mother on her demise, but it was decided that the money in our account was so “tainted” with “stolen” sums that it was not possible to say whether these funds were clean.  What really hurt was the words used “alleged” inheritance, like I’d lied about the death of my mum.

Pre Hearing

So this has now taken place at local magistrate’s court.  Unfortunately, husband was rather sick the night before – not through nerves, he is quite resigned about events – unfortunately, we found out the night before his first court case that he is allergic to Quorn!  Not nice.  So he was a bit exhausted in the morning but went off, on his own.  The first hearing takes place at the magistrate’s court because due to the complexity of the case, it has to be referred to the county court.  Thankfully, now that this matter is “criminal” we have access to legal advice.  We visited the lawyer who will be working for us the other day and it was such a relief to have help and advice in this matter.  Just to know what to expect, where to go, what to say.  The basics of criminal justice you could say.  Legal Aid has been applied for and we must wait to see if we are accepted.  We have (as I’ve previously said) no money to pay lawyers and have already shelved out at the insistence of “the other side”  £25,000 on one particular legal matter only to be told that the work produced was worthless and a waste of time.  (and our money).  At the High Court, legal fees to the tune of  £40,000 was considered by the judge “reasonable” and this was just for initial work by the other side.  Really, the only people who have benefited from this sorry tale are lawyers.

Anyway, I digress.  Husband went to magistrates court, was met by solicitor acting on our behalf, even though legal aid has not yet come through, and he did not (on advice of solicitor) enter a plea.  This comes later apparently.

He is also being hounded by his professional body and they are accusing him of being “unhelpful” even though given that this is a criminal matter, it is not possible for him to give a statement to the professional body.  Anything he does say will go back to “the other side” so he is again hamstrung.  Our solicitor has now taken this piece of correspondence so that is another thing off our mind.

And now we must wait for about 6 weeks for the matter to be referred to the county court.  But I will fill in the gaps as and when I can.

Pre First Hearing

Husband due in local court tomorrow.  He doesn’t want me with him, wants to see this through on his own.  I must admit to feeling sick to the pit of my stomach.  Plus am having bad dreams at night whereupon “the other side” turn up in force and we are on our own again.  At least this time we will have a solicitor who (if and when the Legal Aid comes through) will be acting for us.  Last time we went to court – for the Asset Freezing part of things – it was just us two and about eight of them (lawyers, the aggrieved party and their staff).   It does help to have someone who knows where to go and what to say.  And of course, at that last hearing we were both very much in a state of shock not knowing what the hell was going on or going to happen.  Time passes and we are a little wiser.

I suppose what I should do is put down the history of this tale every time I add stuff that is happening now.  That may be cathartic to remember what was going on just this time last year.

Anyway, news on tomorrow’s events later.