The legal eagle lines its nest

After eight years mulling over the case of lecturer Debra Allonby, the lawyers have been discussing whether she was even a "worker" under European law.

She claimed she should have had equal pay and pension rights as an agency worker at Accrington and Rossendale college and sexual discrimination is claimed because most agency lecturers are women. Now, even the meaning of the word "worker" is disputed thanks to the ambiguity of European law.

The Allonby case shuffled a tedious path from an English employment tribunal, through the British courts, and on to the European Court of Justice. It was back in the Civil Court of Appeal in London last week, on its way, once more, to an employment tribunal.

In court, Lord Justice Ward said: "The thing that appals me about this litigation is it has been going on for years and years at huge and hideous expense."

He asked the learned friends if the case would be over before he retired.

They were unable to commit themselves. But in the meantime, I trust they are earning a nice little nest egg towards their old age.

Which is more than can be said of Ms Allonby.

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