In a spat with Jan Moir, Katherine Jenkins stays classy

The singer responds to Jan Moir’s accusation that she was “stealing the limelight” by running the London Marathon.

 

Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir wrote about the singer Katherine Jenkins today, effectively accusing her of the heinous crime of “looking nice while running a marathon”.

Moir wrote:

Among all the runners at the start of the race on Sunday, 32-year-old Katherine was uniquely red carpet magnifico. Her biscuity maquillage was flawless. Hosed on, as they say in the trade. The building trade.

She had lashings of pink lip gloss, sooty false eyelashes and sweeping, coal black eyeliner. Not to mention a perfect silvery manicure, those ever-tanned limbs, her blonde hair pulled back into an immaculate ponytail and raisin-sized diamonds in her ears.

At points during the race she would pop on a pair of £200 Prada sunglasses just to add to her athletic mystique. Perhaps the only miracle was that she didn’t run backwards, in high heels, while singing the Welsh national anthem at the top of her voice.

Apparently, Jenkins “simply can’t help stealing the limelight”, even while raising money for charity.

Not particularly notable in itself, but Jenkins’ response to the column was a supreme example of someone determinedly taking the high road. She posted via Twitter:

I ran on Sunday in memory of my father & to raise money (£25,000) for an excellent charity (@macmillancancer) who helped him when he was dying. Yes, I twittered about it but I did so to share my progress & day with those kind people on twitter who had supported & sponsored me. I ran in sunglasses because it was sunny. I tied my hair back in a pony tail because I expected to sweat. As if you had some insider knowledge you wrote I was wearing eye shadow, eye liner& lip gloss. Wrong again - none of the above - I had Vaseline on my lips, handed to us by St Johns Ambulance on our way round the route.

You can read her full statement here. Bravo, Katherine Jenkins. 

Katherine Jenkins (not running a marathon). Photograph: Getty Images

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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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.