Council legal chief Isabella Freeman begins tribunal case against Tower Hamlets

Isabella Freeman

Isabella Freeman - Credit: Archant

Town Hall legal director Isabella Freeman was at the centre of a courtroom drama shrouded in secrecy in the case she’s brought against her Tower Hamlets council employers.

Witness statements and other documents were kept from the public when her employment tribunal hearing opened yesterday.

The £115,000-a-year head of council legal services has been embroiled in a legal wrangle with the authority since councillors voted at a meeting behind closed doors last summer to take disciplinary steps against her.

The case has finally came to a tribunal hearing this week at Anchorage House next to the Town Hall.

The council’s defence QC John Bowers called for the case to be dropped.

Judge Jonathan Ferris responded by saying he had serous reservations about the thrust of the complaint against the authority.

But Ms Freeman’s barrister insisted there was a strong case against the council. So a hearing date has been set for late autumn.

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Ms Freeman’s complaint is thought to be linked to last year’s failed process to appoint someone to the vacant post of council chief executive, which has been empty since 2010. The stalemate followed legal advice she gave the Town Hall’s human resources panel.

The tribunal case was referred to in Parliament as far back as January in a debate on local government when MPs criticised proceedings at Tower Hamlets and alleged bias towards Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s minority administration.