Expelled Alliance Party member Geoffrey Wilson in legal action against party over 'discrimination'

Geoffrey Wilson. Pic Presseye
Geoffrey Wilson outside the courts. Credit: Presseye

An expelled member of the Alliance Party is taking legal action over unsuccessful attempts to be selected as an election candidate.

Geoffrey Wilson has secured backing from Northern Ireland’s Equality Commission for a case involving alleged discrimination on the grounds of age and political opinion.

In October last year a Fair Employment Tribunal ruled it did not have jurisdiction to hear his claim.

The 51-year-old will now challenge that determination at the Court of Appeal.

The legal consultant, from the Dunmurry area of Belfast, was a member of Alliance for nine years.

He claims that he was suspended and then expelled in December 2021 over events at a meeting to select candidates for the Lagan Valley constituency.

The steps were taken because of a “controversial question” put to an Alliance councillor, he has previously alleged.

In April last year Mr Wilson was denied High Court permission to seek a judicial review of his removal from the cross-community party.

But in a separate move he attempted to have a case heard by the Fair Employment Tribunal sitting in Belfast.

Mr Wilson said that between 2017 and 2021 he repeatedly failed to secure approval to stand as an Alliance candidate in local council, Assembly and Westminster elections.

He alleged discrimination because of his age and his emphasis on strong pro-abortion and transgender rights.

The tribunal refused jurisdiction, however, on the grounds that he was never an employee of the party. 

Although Mr Wilson previously acted as a self-litigant, the Court of Appeal heard today that he is now being represented by the Equality Commission for a challenge to that decision.

It is understood that the case will focus on whether fair employment legislation provides scope for a political party to also be interpreted as a vocational organisation.

Counsel for the Commission requested more time to refine Mr Wilson’s grounds of appeal.

Adjourning the case for three weeks, Lady Chief Justice Dame Siobhan Keegan directed that solicitors representing the Alliance Party should also be notified.

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