Gagged media chief wins right to hearing

A former Manchester Evening News journalist, who has been suspended from his position as media chief at Liverpool City Council for 16 months, has won the right to a "trial by councillors".

Matt Finnegan, who was banned from speaking out on the issue by his employers during his suspension, will face a disciplinary hearing in September, accompanied by a panel of councillors, and the NUJ has called for his hearing to be made public.

According to the union, Finnegan was suspended by former chief executive David Henshaw for making public criticisms by council leader Mike Storey of Henshaw's £350,000 pension deal.

NUJ regional organiser Miles Barter said: "This is a public scandal — the treatment meted out to Matt Finnegan over the past 16 months has been an utter disgrace, Since his suspension, Mr Finnegan has been barred from visiting any city council premises and banned from contacting any of the council's 19,500 employees, any of its 90 councillors or any members of the media.

"Suspected terrorists have more freedom and more rights. Despite the vendetta waged against him, Mr Finnegan has remained determined not to give up and to win back his job.

"We are asking the council to take the unusual step of holding the hearing in public so Matt can face his accusers and clear his name. He has nothing to hide and wants to have his say in public."

Barter said the case will pose the question of who runs councils — the democratically elected leader or the hired chief executive.

Liverpool City Council would not comment.


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