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Home   Medway   News   Article

Cllr Ken Bamber's 'Irish joke' proves costly for Medway Council

08 February 2010

Cllr Ken BamberBrian Kelly

It must be one of the oldest jokes in history, and it took two years to get to the punchline.

It began in December 2007, when Cllr Ken Bamber (Con) told an 'Irish' joke during a break in a meeting to discuss an appeal against dismissal.

Union official Brian Kelly took offence at the use of the word "Paddy" and filed an official complaint.

Now agreement has finally been reached between the two and Medway Council has agreed to pay compensation to Mr Kelly, who was its full-time Unison official.

Details are being kept private, but it is thought the agreement was reached at the conciliation service, ACAS, after it was referred there by the Employment Tribunal.

The council's standards committee, which is designed to maintain high standards in public office, discussed the matter in private.

Only those councillors on the committee have been given details of the agreement. One of the conditions bars either man from discussing the terms of the deal with anyone else.

Cllr Bamber  was chairing the appeal hearing when the joke was told during a break in proceedings.

The Irish-born union representative said he considered "Paddy" was an offensive word and racist in intent.

Cllr Bamber scribbled a note saying he apologised, but it was alleged he would not sign it or say for what he was apologising.

Mr Kelly formally complained and the committee began investigating, but had to adjourn the case while it went before the employment tribunal and legal experts. Neither man was present to hear the committee discussions.

Mr Kelly, who left the council when his job was made redundant during the period of the investigation, was not contactable. He has received a discrimination payment from Cllr Bamber as well as the council's payout.

The offending joke:

"A man walked into a Dublin bar and saw a friend sitting with an empy glass. 'Paddy can I buy you another', he asked, to which Paddy replied - 'now what would I be wanting with another empty glass?'"

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