John Morgan, a law graduate who has recently completed an internship at the Scottish Parliament has won the inaugural Frank Maguire Memorial Award. The award was set up in the memory of Frank, who was senior partner at Thompsons Solicitors and was one Scotland’s foremost lawyers campaigning for legal reform. He spent his entire career fighting for the victims of industrial diseases and for those killed or injured in the workplace.
Frank died of cancer aged 55. He worked and campaigned to the last. Thompsons decided to set up the prize as a tribute to Frank and to encourage debate on law reform and to foster and encourage the next generation of campaigning lawyers.
All entrants were asked to write an essay on the impact of a new law passed by the UK government. Section 69 of the Enterprise and Regulatory reform act has been described as one of the most profound attacks on the rights of workers for several generations. By making it much harder for working people to challenge their employers when they are injured at work, section 69 puts in jeopardy decades of hard won legal victories that protect people in the work place. It positions the law more on the side of employers and their wealthy backers, the insurance companies.
John’s essay on section 69 was the stand out entry as he very clearly laid out the consequences that the new law will have for the health and safety of workers in the UK. John said “When I was studying law one of the best known and most respected figures in the legal world was Frank Maguire so when I saw that Thompsons had set up this memorial award I wanted to enter. The introduction of this new law is something I feel really strongly about because I come from a community where people worked for many years in heavy industries and needed the protection the law gave them. To think that in the 21st century we’re turning the clock back on this protection is deeply worrying.”
John was presented with the award by the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont at a reception in the Scottish Parliament. She said ““Everyone who knew Frank admired the way he fought for workers who’d been effected by industrial disease and injury. His campaign which changed the law to help asbestos victims is something I have huge respect for. It’s a wonderful idea that this memorial prize has been set up and I was delighted to present the award to John Morgan. It’s great to see that Frank’s memory is helping to inspire the campaigning spirit in the next generation of Scottish lawyers”
The senior partner at Thompsons Solicitors Syd Smith also congratulated John on his win and said his submission was of a very high standard. Syd commented “ Section 69 completely erodes legal protection in the work place that previous generations fought hard to get in place. It turns the law on its head and its exactly the kind of attack on workers’ rights that Frank would have fought with every means at his disposal. John Morgan’s well thought out and excellently written essay on the issue was a clear winner. I’m certain Frank would have been very impressed with John’s work on this “