Jamie Bryson defends press statement and record as representative, following client's loss of unfair dismissal case
Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson has described as “entirely appropriate” the wording of a statement on behalf of a man who shared a video he posted of a group singing a mocking song about murdered Michaela McAreavey.
The statement, issued after a clip was widely shared on social media, was heavily cited during the disciplinary hearings that led to the dismissal of Andrew McDade from his lorry driving job with the Norman Emerson Group.
Mr Bryson also strongly defended his work as a representative at judicial hearings, including tribunals.
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His comments on Wednesday followed remarks by a mediator and employment law specialist that those taking tribunal cases should employ a solicitor to have a chance of winning their case.
It followed a Belfast tribunal ruling against former Orangeman McDade who claimed he was unfairly dismissed from his job.
"There has never been any criticism of my representation of any client by any judicial body and nor did the tribunal ever make any such oral comment either during any hearing or in any judgment," he said.
In ten years up to end of 2022, Mr Bryson is listed as a representative in at least one case and likely two where a judgment was delivered by the Industrial and Fair Employment Tribunals, according to public records.
Mr Bryson said he was involved in settling five cases this year alone and four others are ongoing.
The statement issued in early June 2022 admitted the behaviour in Dundonald Orange Hall in late May was "vile and abhorrent". It was drawn up by Mr Bryson and approved by Mr McDade and was directly used by the company ahead of the dismissal, according to the tribunal judgment.
“The statement was entirely appropriate, issued under instructions and was a response to media queries and was not a formal legal pleading,” Mr Bryson said.
On Mr McDade's case, he added: “As the case is under consideration for appeal, it is not appropriate to comment further."
Conor Jordan, who conducted the disciplinary investigation for Norman Emerson, was cited in the industrial tribunal judgment noting the press statement confirming Mr McDade's involvement in the live streaming.
He further noted that the statement read: “Our actions, whilst fuelled by alcohol, can neither be mitigated or excused in any shape or form”.
Three judges found there was no merit in the claim of unfair dismissal taken by Mr McDade in its findings which were delivered earlier this week.
Mr Bryson said: “It is clear that there is a deliberate agenda to seek to discredit my representation of clients and the work of my business."
He added: “It is somewhat confusing how you have managed to turn a judgment against the client into a criticism of the representative. The judgment makes no such criticism, at all.
"Perhaps you ought to go to the President of the Tribunal and ask him as to whether he has ever had any concerns as to my representation of clients. I’d imagine the answer would not be to your liking.
"In any event, contrary to your seeming belief, I need not justify myself to the Irish News and the campaign to discredit and undermine my business is a matter for the Irish News and the public can judge it for themselves. It may drive website traffic, but it’s hardly journalism."
Mr Bryson operates JWB Consultancy, of which he is head of legal advocacy and public relations. It was registered in 2021 and its latest accounts as a micro-company reveal assets of £1300 as of January 2022. A previous firm, also named JWB Consultancy, was closed in 2018 after approximately 18 months.
According to the British and Irish Legal Information Institute, Mr Bryson was involved in one industrial tribunal case where a judgment was handed down, in 2017, and likely a second, some years earlier, in 2013.
He did not directly address a question about the two cases, but said: “Judgments do not list settlements - of which there have been five this year alone. There are also four ongoing cases.” The majority of industrial or fair employment cases do not proceed to a full hearing.
In the 2017 case, a woman Mr Bryson and JWB represented, claimed she was unfairly dismissed by a Belfast women's centre. The tribunal ruled the dismissal was technically unfair but she was not owed any compensation as she was being made redundant at the time.
A second judgment from 2013 centred on a claim that three dispatchers at a taxi company were denied redundancy and notice pay after being told to leave their jobs following its takeover by another firm. A Mr J Bryson represented the taxi firm.
The tribunal found in favour of the three, who represented themselves, and they were awarded in total more than £11,000.