Tribunal rules wages not paid by company run by Keighley councillor

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A single mother is battling to get more than £3,000 in compensation awarded to her against an accountancy firm run by a Bradford councillor.

Justine Bentley worked for Keighley West Conservative Councillor Robert Payne\’s company ARL Enterprises (Europe) Ltd more than a year ago as an assistant.

Miss Bentley, 39, of Clifton, Brighouse, took the firm, based at Coun Payne\’s home in Keighley, to an employment tribunal over a dispute about unpaid wages.

Last July the tribunal awarded her a total of £3,438 in unpaid wages and compensation.

Coun Payne had until the end of August to pay, but Miss Bentley has still not received a penny.

She said: \”It is totally unacceptable for a person in a position such as a councillor to choose to leave a single parent with a young child with no salary.

\”I have always worked hard to provide for my child and to be left with no money has been upsetting and traumatic for me and my family.

\”It does seem unfair that Coun Payne receives a monthly salary from the Council for his part-time role as councillor while I have had to go without.\”

The next step open to Miss Bentley is to apply to County Court for the payment to be enforced.

Her solicitor Toni Haynes, of Morrish Solicitors in Leeds, said: \”This man is a director of an accountancy firm, where other people trust him with their money. He is an elected official, so he should be above reproach. He is expected to act in the public\’s interest, and yet he is not even looking after his own employee.

\”Justine Bentley has a four-year-old son. He should do the right thing and give Justine her unpaid wages.\”

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, chief whip of the Council\’s Conservative group said the matter was \”a commercial dispute\” as the order was made against a limited company and not directly against Coun Payne.

Coun Payne told the Telegraph & Argus: \”The employment issue between Miss Bentley and ARL Enterprises (Europe) Limited is a business issue.

\”At the time of employment, I was acting as an officer of the company and not as an elected member of the Council. The issue is therefore a private matter.\”

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