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‘No powers’ to prosecute P&O despite firm admitting it broke law in sacking 800 employees, government concedes

P&O Ferries won’t be taken to courtroom by the government despite admitting it broke the law by sacking 800 employees with out consulting them, a minister has admitted.

MPs have been instructed that – due to looser redundancy legal guidelines in the UK than different international locations – the employees would have to take a firm to an industrial tribunal themselves.

There are “no powers to injunct” P&O Ferries, a senior official on the division for business admitted – though the firm continues to be being investigated below different potential offences.

The admission comes despite Boris Johnson promising, simply 24 hours earlier, that the firm had landed itself in courtroom, telling MPs: “P&O clearly aren’t going to get away with it.”

It prompted incredulity from Huw Merriman, the Tory chair of the Commons transport committee, who demanded to know why ministers weren’t taking “immediate action today”.

But Paul Scully, a business minister, stated: “It is for the individuals concerned and their representatives to approach the tribunals.”

He instructed the emergency inquiry: “Some people may actually be satisfied with the enhanced offer,” – after P&O stated it was paying out greater than £36m in compensation.

Asked if P&O’s means to sack the employees with out session uncovered the weak spot of the UK’s “flexible labour market”, Mr Scully urged folks to think about the “wider landscape”.

It was the “flexible labour market” that had allowed the UK to “create more jobs than the whole of the European Union put together,” because the 2008 monetary crash, the minister claimed.

However, his officers admitted that they had not consulted the lawyer basic earlier than reaching the view that the government has no energy to injunct P&O.

And he refused to commit to altering the law to stop a repeat in future – despite Mr Merriman calling for laws in May’s Queen’s Speech.

“This company has broken the law because it knows it can get away with it,” protested Ben Bradshaw, a Labour member of the Commons transport committee.

“This hasn’t happened to the French and the Dutch because they have better legal protections,” he instructed Mr Scully.

The minister stated the Insolvency Service is trying into whether or not different notification legal guidelines have been damaged by P&O – however it instructed the inquiry that work wouldn’t be accomplished till 8 April.

Furthermore, a number one maritime lawyer has argued the firm might legally sack 800 workers with out informing the government, due to a law change introduced in by Chris Grayling.

In 2018, the gaffe-prone former transport secretary quietly amended laws meant to defend employees to create an exemption the place there are mass redundancies on ships registered abroad.

Mr Scully additionally admitted {that a} failure to notify Cyprus correctly about redundancies on the Cypriot-registered ships would solely be an offence “under Cypriot law”.

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