Plaintiff Compares Former Boss to Sauron, Self to Baggins

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Analogies are tricky in legal writing, mainly because of the risk you may stretch one too far and lose credibility. This one might have been a bit overstretched.

According to the Telegraph, which reported the story in November 2010 and yes I'm just getting around to finishing this post, Gillian Martin worked for the UK's GMB trade union (led by general secretary Paul Kenny) for six years. After she was fired, she alleged she was wrongly terminated for blowing the whistle on misuses of union funds, and said the union discriminates against women.

In a written statement presented to an employment tribunal, she drew what turned into a fairly extended analogy between her case and The Lord of the Rings:

I draw an analogy of my situation with the movie Lord of the Rings in the inferences which I invite the tribunal to make in relation to this case.

For this purpose, I am suggesting that Paul Kenny is the Dark Lord Sauron, the eye at the top of the tower seeing everything, missing nothing and directing everything. His GMB kingdom is the equivalent of Mordor, Lord Sauron's domain.

I see myself in all this as a female version of the hobbit Frodo Baggins carrying the ring, these precious claims of mine, to this tribunal of Mount Doom.

I hope that by submitting my claims to the tribunal, in the same way as the ring was submitted to the molten lava of Mount Doom, that the eye of Lord Sauron will dissolve and justice will prevail.

In general, this analogy works, setting aside the mild exaggeration.

Eye of Sauron
The Eye of Kenny

I'm pretty sure they did discriminate against women in Mordor, for example. (I don't remember any there at all, in fact, but maybe they were all stuck underground, forced to type and make coffee.) The analogy is missing some important characters, though, like Sam (who I assume would be Martin's lawyer, if she had one), and Gollum. Remember that in the end, Frodo wasn't able to let go of the precious, and the quest only succeeded because Gollum bit his finger off, took the Ring, and then fell into the Crack of Doom with it. So either Martin has left out an important event, or filing a claim with the Leeds Employment Tribunal is way more difficult than it should be.

I guess maybe Gollum would be the lawyer in that scenario.

I haven't been able to find any record of how this particular case was resolved, but I did notice that the Dark Lord Kenny was later reelected as General Secretary of the GMB, and in fact he ran unopposed. So that quest failed, although Martin may of course have won a lesser victory.

If that's true, or if a vast darkness has since spread across the land, please let me know.