Former leader barred from standing for re-election amid misuse of expenses claims

Ucatt has welcomed a High Court ruling rejecting an attempt by its former leader to block its current leadership election.

Mrs Justice Proudman ruled on Monday that the union’s members would not back its former general secretary Alan Ritchie in his pursuit of an injunction to stop the contest.

Interim general secretary George Guy told Building the union had been “vindicated” by the court’s decision.

The union barred Ritchie from standing for re-election last month, amid claims - strongly denied by Ritchie - that he had misused union expenses as general secretary.

Building revealed this week that union bosses have voted to launch formal disciplinary proceedings against Ritchie over the allegations.

In court last week, the union claimed that Ritchie was barred from standing for re-election for failing to comply with its investigation into the claims, adding that it had sent five letters to Ritchie requesting he arrange a meeting to discuss the claims and that he had failed to do so on each occasion.

Ritchie’s legal team argued he had been signed off sick from work with depression and had been unable to comply.

Mrs Justice Proudman did not pass judgment on the matter of Ritchie’s alleged misuse of expenses or his alleged non-compliance with the union’s internal investigation. She rejected Ritchie’s injunction bid mainly on the grounds that union members would not wish it to incur the additional costs of another election.

Mrs Justice Proudman said Ritchie had had a “seriously arguable case” for an injunction and permitted the right to appeal, which he is considering.