Standing room only at former organiser’s funeral

WE SAID a final goodbye to former NUJ National Organiser, Gary Morton on 5 January at the City of London Crematorium at Wanstead. It was standing room only, with friends and colleagues from all parts of his life - as a student, a trade union organiser, and ultimately as a barrister specialising in employment law.

Among the tributes was a reminder from Paul Smith of Keele University - with whom Gary wrote on industrial relations - that Gary was one of the few people who was prepared to take on the late and unlamented Robert Maxwell in court.

Gary's widow, Jenny Golden, herself a former NUJ member, tells the story thus: "Gary was sued by Robert Maxwell in the early 1980s for bringing Pergamon Press into disrepute. The (NUJ) National Executive Council backed Gary by one vote... [at] a pre-hearing… the judge described the libel as "small bee stings", but still put it to trial.

The case was heard at the High Court... On the first morning, Maxwell's barrister was going on about what an awful Communist Gary was (a bit rich, given that Maxwell famously published books on the eastern European leaders of the time). Gary remembered that his own barrister was more concerned that Maxwell's lawyer was being paid more than him.

Surprisingly, Maxwell was present and was pacing up and down the corridor during adjournments." At lunchtime a deal was struck, which involved Gary having to put out a circular to Mothers and Fathers of Chapels in books and magazines. Gary was at the time NUJ Organiser for this sector; Mothers and Fathers of Chapel are the NUJ's elected organisers in workplaces. The circular said that Gary had not meant to injure the reputation of Pergamon Press. Most chapel leaders had no idea why they received the circular and they duly binned it.

Last modified: 01 Mar 2015 - © 2015 contributors
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