Leading Alliance politicians have said the party has been completely vindicated following the collapse of a case taken by Margaret Hawkins, and they stated that major questions must be raised about the role of the Equality Commission in this tribunal.
Alliance Deputy Leader Naomi Long said: “I am delighted that the Alliance Party has been completely vindicated by the manner in which this case has collapsed. I am, however, disappointed and angry that I was not able to give my own evidence and face down the hurtful, outrageous and false allegations made against me.
“There were serious questions about medical evidence before this tribunal even sat, which brought into doubt the claimant’s credibility. This is a case that should never have come to tribunal. It also raises enormous questions about the role and conduct of the Equality Commission who have on this occasion wasted thousands of pounds worth of taxpayers’ money and left good cases unsupported in their quest for cheap headlines and publicity.”
“I note with concern that the claimant gave sworn evidence that she had a university degree and this was subsequently confirmed by the Commission’s lawyers to be entirely untrue. In particular, she claimed to have graduated with a BA from the University of Ulster in September 2001. The party’s lawyers investigated that claim and were able to ascertain that she had not been awarded a degree when she said she had been, or indeed at all. That sworn claim has now been admitted to be completely untrue.”
Stephen Farry MLA added: “Margaret Hawkins engaged in a clear and calculated attempt to undermine my integrity as a public figure by pursuing this baseless case. It is now established that her case was full of holes and untruths, and I take great vindication from this.
“There are major questions that the Equality Commission will have to answer as to why they supported this charade. It would appear that the Equality Commission were more interested in the identity of the respondents than the merits of this case, which were entirely lacking.”