Our Employment team suffered a tragic loss in December when our colleague and much loved employment law “encyclopedia”, Gary Morton died after a very short illness.
Gary managed to fit in three careers in his life as a political activist (who even became involved with the ANC) a very effective trade unionist and then finally a barrister first in a set in Lincolns’ Inn then finally with us at Pump Court Chambers.
Gary was a very clever and successful “agitator” who literally riled against injustice and inequality wherever he came across it! Gary’s union career began as a trainee officer for the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs. In 1976 he began working at the NUJ, responsible for the book and magazine sector, before moving to regional newspapers. Working closely with the National Graphical Association, he defended the jobs of both printers and journalists during the transition from hot metal to electronic composition. He was arrested in disputes at both T Bailey Forman in Nottingham (1973) and the Warrington Messenger (1983). He was also sued for libel by Robert Maxwell (an out-of-court settlement was achieved).
Gary was a committed member of the ELAAS scheme which provides pro bono representation at the EAT to appellants who are unable to afford legal representation. Gary was troubled by the ET’s attitude to costs orders against litigants in person and he was the brains and energy behind the Pump Court Cost Reports which is a collection of decisions about costs and other sanctions in the Employment Tribunal. His case of Jilley v Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust & Ors  UKEAT 0584_06_2111 (21 November 2007) is the leading case for considering the ability of a claimant to pay any costs order.
Gary was recruited into Chambers by his bar school chum, Alison Russell, who was the head of our Employment Team and who now sits as an Employment Judge at East London ET. We were delighted to have such an energetic and passionate recruit. Gary was so generous with his knowledge and his knowledge of labour law was incredible and is sorely missed.
Gary spent much of his last few months caring for his mum who sadly passed away on New Year’s Day aged 95. Gary was an accomplished oarsman who loved the water and swam in the Lido near his home. He was a co-author with Patrick Smith of the seminal article “Nine Years of New Labour: Neoliberalism and Worker’s Rights” published in the British Journal of Industrial Relations.
What we will miss most is his selfless humanity. He empathised with everyone and particularly the less well off.
He brought to all his activities intelligence, independence and good humour. His brother, Nigel, died in 2012. Gary is survived by his wife, Jenny Golden, whom he married in 1996, his children, Kate, Zoe and Jack, and his grandchildren, Skye, Dylan, Jude and Edie.
We miss him.
Thanks to Oba Nsugbe QC and Paul Smith of the Guardian. To view Gary’s obituary please click here.