MAG UK wound down after losing employment tribunal

Riders' rights group trades as new company after constructive dismissal complaints are upheld

THE Motorcycle Action Group is trading as a new company after losing an employment tribunal, an email from the group’s director reveals.

MAG UK, which campaigns for riders' rights, is being wound down and assets transferred to the Motorcycle Action Group Ltd after complaints of constructive dismissal were upheld.

An employment tribunal heard complaints of bullying and intimidation made against the director, Neil Liversidge, and concluded three former employees had been constructively dismissed.

The tribunal in Birmingham heard details of a meeting that Liversidge demanded staff attend in March last year with himself and Pete Walker, another director, to ‘lay down clear ground rules’.

In emails to one of the claimants, former MAG General Secretary Nich Brown, Liversidge said: ‘All staff must arrange to be in the office next Monday even if it means cancelling pre-arranged meetings no exceptions… if anyone is absent due to illness on Monday they will be required to attend for a meeting at my office in Castleford immediately on their return to work... I shall not allow my time to be wasted’

Former MAG Campaigns Manager Paddy Tyson and a third claimant said they would not attend because they felt intimidated.

Liversidge responded in an email saying that staff who didn't turn up ‘will be required to attend a disciplinary meeting the same day’. He said a representative appointed to attend the meeting on Tyson’s behalf ‘will be asked to leave the premises. If she refuses we shall call the police and ask them to remove her.’

All three claimants raised formal grievances repeating their objections to the meeting but Liversidge and Walker attended the group’s central office at the appointed time.

MAG President Ian Mutch, who went to the meeting as an observer, told the tribunal: ‘I don’t think I’m telling anyone anything in recognising that Neil has the diplomatic credentials of a chieftan tank. This trait is genetically assisted by vocal cords that have an extraordinary capacity for telegraphing the kind of concern that George Lucas spent millions refining in his creation of Darth Vader.’

Employment judge Kearsley said: ‘Mr Liversidge is physically imposing. He told me on the first day of hearing, when I remonstrated with him about the volume of his speech, that he was completely deaf in one ear and unaware of the level of his voice. As an observer I could appreciate that those being questioned by Mr Liversidge in this tribunal will have found the level, if not the content, of his questions at times intimidating….

‘In contrast to Mr Liversidge and Mr Walker the three claimants gave calm and measured responses to the questions from Mr Liversidge and, to the extent that there is a dispute between their recollection of events and those of the respondent’s witnesses I prefer their recollection.’

In an email dated March 6, six days after the tribunal concluded, Liversidge says: ‘Due to the attempt by our former staff led by Nich Brown to destroy and bankrupt MAG UK, the old company M.A.G. (UK) Ltd has outsourced all its functions to The Motorcycle Action Group Ltd.

‘All future invoices should be to The Motorcycle Action Group Ltd  please.

'All email addresses and contact details remain the same.

'The Motorcycle Action Group Ltd of the UK remains as strong as ever and we now have a staff in whom we are 100% confident.’

Asked by Visordown to explain the move, Liversidge said: ‘Such was the disgust and fury in the membership at the actions of Brown et al, M.A.G. (UK) Ltd has been unable to attract any substantial donations for the last year.  Membership subscriptions alone are not enough to run M.A.G. (UK) Ltd as can be seen from the accounts.

‘Whereas those outside the orbit of MAG's management will be unaware of all the ins and outs, our major donors had a full and thorough understanding of the circumstances. The Board has therefore been conducting an orderly wind-down of M.A.G. (UK) Ltd for the last year. In the course of this we have ensured that all our creditors have been treated properly, fairly and equitably. We sought good legal advice on this, including the advice of a professional insolvency practitioner, and we have abided by that advice….

'So far as the tribunal outcome is concerned, we are perfectly comfortable with the morality of our position, regardless of the outcome.’

Brown told Visordown: ‘Within hours of receiving the judge's decision, Mr Liversidge proposed that I should be expelled from the Motorcycle Action Group. I’ve been a member for 25 years. The National Committee agreed to this before receiving the judge's reasons for finding against MAG(UK) Ltd.’