I recently had the questionable pleasure of giving evidence at an Employment Tribunal in London. This was an appeal for wrongful dismissal brought by a Nigerian building manager employed by a client of mine. The man had allegedly fiddled his expenses, operated a caste discrimination system in the hiring of other Nigerian staff and had shown disloyalty to his employer. As a witness of fact to part of the events leading up to his dismissal, I was obliged to give evidence along with others.
The witness stand was stacked with various swearing options; Old Testament, New Testament and laminated cards for other forms of affirmation of the truth. When asked by the clerk, each of the witnesses made their own choices from the selection available.
The appellant was then called to the stand and asked whether he would like to swear or affirm. He replied: “I will swear on the Koran”. The actions that followed left most of us gaping.
One of the two tribunal members flanking the chairman rose from his seat and walked behind the bench. He opened a cabinet from which he ever-so-carefully withdrew an embroidered velvet pouch complete with gold tassle. He turned and walked across to the witness, holding the pouch reverently before him on two open hands. Arriving at the witness stand, he opened the pouch and reverently withdrew the large book partway, offering it to the witness to take out. “The Koran…” he said, almost adoringly.
The witness took out the large volume and swore his oath.
He then proceeded to lie through his teeth throughout the rest of the proceedings.
This is a court of law in Churchill’s England - the year 2010.
What may we expect 30 years from now?