Barrister’s avalanche of ‘vexatious’ race and sex claims sees him barred from ever taking legal action again
Benedict Moore-Bridger, Evening Standard, July 25, 2014
A barrister who failed in an unprecedented 30 “vexatious” employment tribunal claims over four years has been barred from ever bringing legal action again.
John Iteshi, 40, qualified in 2007 but was unable to work as a barrister after failing to acquire a necessary training position known as a pupillage.
Instead, he began bringing cases on behalf of himself and others in the tribunals, alleging race and sex discrimination against a host of prospective employers after being turned down for jobs. In the past four years he brought dozens of claims and numerous applications — all of which failed.
His spree, described as “making a mockery” of the system, was at a cost to other parties of an estimated £500,000.
Four were against his current employers, Transport for London and London Underground, and 25 against agencies and employers recruiting staff — mostly in the public sector and for positions requiring legal qualifications or experience.
Almost all the claims brought by Iteshi, left, were “weak or hopeless and conducted vexatiously”, a tribunal ruled.
After being made aware of his acti- vities, an investigation was carried out by the Treasury solicitor’s department before the Attorney General decided it was in the public interest to apply to have him banned.
The ruling means Iteshi, who works as a customer service assistant at London Underground, is now forbidden from starting any new employment-related legal proceedings and applications or continuing with any already ongoing without first obtaining permission from the tribunal.
In a restriction of proceedings application at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in central London, Mr Justice Sir John Mitting, QC, said Iteshi’s behaviour was exceptional and he banned him indefinitely.
He added: “I have never encountered and am unaware of any other case in which so many claims of this nature have been brought by an individual over a period of no more than four years.
“Mr Iteshi has applied for jobs; he has been turned down; he has accused the recruitment agencies if they were involved or the employers if they were involved or both of race and sex discrimination when he proved unsuccessful. He has never had any basis for making that allegation.”
In a 2011 race discrimination claim against British Telecom after failing to get two legal jobs, university graduate Iteshi, who is black, claimed the company had presented the court with fabricated CVs of other candidates as “it was well known that black women did not go to Oxford or Cambridge”.
He accused the judge in that case of “fraud, lack of credibility, evasion, dodging and failing to respond”. The claim was rejected. In another, against TfL, he alleged their lawyers and witnesses lied on oath as he was defeated in four separate claims of victimisation and discrimination after unsuccessfully applying for eight posts between 2005 and 2007 and also failing to pass the first stage of tests to become a train driver and a duty manager.
Iteshi, originally from Nigeria and who obtained a postgraduate diploma in law at London Metropolitan University in 2004, described the EAT as “crooked individuals hiding behind judicial immunity and their evil cloak of infallibility”. Responding to the application to ban him, he called the judicial system “a complete sham”.
He added: “The only reason I can think they pursued this action against me is that they are trying to encourage my employer to sack me.
“No one has gone through what I have and come out sane. Most people end on the street or with other problems.
“I have confidence in God that he will keep me alive and save me from my predicament. And hopefully I will not die before I have done my bit to enlighten the world.”
A spokeswoman for the Attorney General said that on average about four people are banned each year from issuing legal proceedings.
She added: “The Attorney General was told of a very large number of what appeared unmeritorious claims made by Mr Iteshi against a number of organisations in employment tribunals.
“Following an investigation by the Treasury solicitor an application was made to seek a vexatious litigant order against him. This was successful.”