Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. Campbell may be a true believer, but Iraq has poisoned our faith in politics (Guardian)

The corrosive sense of powerlessness felt by the public today was born in the spin doctor's dossier, says Jonathan Freedland. We need a reckoning, although the gentle questioning at the Chilcot inquiry implies that we might not find it there.

2. I am haunted by the Dodgy Dossier (Times)

Ibrahim al-Marashi, whose PhD was lifted from the internet to justify the Iraq war, describes his experience and his regrets after Alastair Campbell's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry yesterday.

3. It will take more than Chilcot to nail Campbell (Independent)

Matthew Norman argues that Campbell was perfect as the warm-up man for Tony Blair, trotting out his lines with ease despite the odd show of nerves.

4. Campbell on the stand: fascinating signs that the inquiry wasn't buying it (Telegraph)

Andrew Gilligan (who branded the dossier "sexed-up") says that the Chilcot panel met the former Chief Persuader's evidence with noticeably more scepticism than it has shown towards any other witness.

5. The most brazen disdain for democracy in modern times (Guardian)

Bumper banker bonuses are back. And what is it, really, asks Simon Jenkins, if not grand-scale theft . . . from treasuries, customers and taxpayers?

6. Why Obama must take on Wall Street (Financial Times)

Robert Reich at the FT agrees that things must not continue as they are -- it has been more than a year since hell broke loose on Wall Street and, remarkably, almost nothing has been done to prevent all hell from breaking loose again.

7. The same old row. But with one big difference (Times)

This Labour split is not about style or strategy, but about spending cuts, says Daniel Finkelstein, looking back at past public battles on the subject. And this time Gordon Brown is on the wrong side.

8. Enjoy the cheap money while it lasts (Indepedent)

Hamish McRae explores the troubling possibility that rising interest rates will choke off the recovery.

9. Welcome judgment on stop-and-search (Guardian)

Henry Porter says that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the use of Section 44 stop-and-search powers is hugely important for civil liberties in the UK.

10. Google's drive to put books online needs a wider debate (Financial Times)

The underlying issues of intellectual property and how copyright should be interpreted in a technological context are too important for the current US court case, which focuses narrowly on competing economic interests, says John Kay.

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How tribunal fees silenced low-paid workers: “it was more than I earned in a month”

The government was forced to scrap them after losing a Supreme Court case.

How much of a barrier were employment tribunal fees to low-paid workers? Ask Elaine Janes. “Bringing up six children, I didn’t have £20 spare. Every penny was spent on my children – £250 to me would have been a lot of money. My priorities would have been keeping a roof over my head.”

That fee – £250 – is what the government has been charging a woman who wants to challenge their employer, as Janes did, to pay them the same as men of a similar skills category. As for the £950 to pay for the actual hearing? “That’s probably more than I earned a month.”

Janes did go to a tribunal, but only because she was supported by Unison, her trade union. She has won her claim, although the final compensation is still being worked out. But it’s not just about the money. “It’s about justice, really,” she says. “I think everybody should be paid equally. I don’t see why a man who is doing the equivalent job to what I was doing should earn two to three times more than I was.” She believes that by setting a fee of £950, the government “wouldn’t have even begun to understand” how much it disempowered low-paid workers.

She has a point. The Taylor Review on working practices noted the sharp decline in tribunal cases after fees were introduced in 2013, and that the claimant could pay £1,200 upfront in fees, only to have their case dismissed on a technical point of their employment status. “We believe that this is unfair,” the report said. It added: "There can be no doubt that the introduction of fees has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of cases brought."

Now, the government has been forced to concede. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Unison’s argument that the government acted unlawfully in introducing the fees. The judges said fees were set so high, they had “a deterrent effect upon discrimination claims” and put off more genuine cases than the flimsy claims the government was trying to deter.

Shortly after the judgement, the Ministry of Justice said it would stop charging employment tribunal fees immediately and refund those who had paid. This bill could amount to £27m, according to Unison estimates. 

As for Janes, she hopes low-paid workers will feel more confident to challenge unfair work practices. “For people in the future it is good news,” she says. “It gives everybody the chance to make that claim.” 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.