A black businessman who accused the Conservative Party in Birmingham of discrimination has had his case for compensation thrown out.
Fitzroy Stevenson claimed he was rejected as a city council candidate in Ladywood after being told he “was not the right sort of person for the seat”.
He insists that questions raised by members of the Ladywood Conservative Association when he attended a candidates’ interview suggested that African Caribbeans generally were considered “uneducated and corrupt”.
But an employment tribunal in Birmingham ruled that it had no powers to hear Mr Stevenson’s case.
Employment Judge Goodier said a councillor could not be considered an employee under the terms of the Race Relations Act and that Mr Stevenson should consider pursuing his case in the county court if he continued to feel he had been discriminated against.
Judge Goodier added: “I cannot find any case where anyone has suggested that elected office as a councillor amounts to employment.
“The defining characteristic is you work for an employer and the employer pays you a salary. As a member of Birmingham City Council you are paid a salary but not by the political party of which you are a member.”
Judge Goodier stressed that his ruling did not mean political parties were free to discriminate on grounds of race when selecting candidates.
However, such allegations were a matter for the county court to consider.
The judge added: “My hands are tied. I can only do things that an Act of Parliament gives me specific authority to do.”
Ladywood Conservative Association rejects Mr Stevenson’s claim of discrimination, pointing out that the candidate chosen to contest this year’s city council elections, Sharon Pennant, is also from an African Caribbean background.
She was chosen after an initial selection procedure, resulting in Ladywood Tory chairman Dominic Fisher being chosen to fight the seat, had to be re-run. Party officials in London ruled that Mr Fisher’s selection had not complied with new rules.
Former Birmingham MP Roger King, president of the Heartlands Area Management Executive representing Conservative associations in the West Midlands, chaired an internal party hearing at which Mr Stevenson unsuccessfully attempted to overturn Mrs Pennant’s selection.
Mr King told the tribunal: “I was asked to take on the role and act as chairman in order to sort out matters that had caused us some concern.”
He said he could not understand why the discrimination case was being pursued, adding that Mr Stevenson had withdrawn his allegations in a letter to the Ladywood party.
Mr King said: “On what basis can the county court re-open a case when someone has equivocally withdrawn the allegations?”
Mr Stevenson, aged 49, who has previously stood as a Conservative city council candidate in Nechells, said he had been asked by a party official to switch wards and put his name forward as a candidate for Ladywood.
He vowed to take his discrimination claims to the county court.
Mr Stevenson added: “I have not withdrawn the allegations. I do not know what Mr King is talking about.
“If he does have a letter, it certainly wasn’t written by me.”