Re: Bad references
"Everything else is political-correctness rubbish that has no basis in law at all"
I think this is also true for the "We have to advertise the job externally" or " oh they have to offer it internally , before they can go outside" . I'm no lawyer , but both sound like bullshit to me , and are just company policies - probly made up on the spot to do what they want.
re the references - the current policy of "never say anything bad" could get you into just as much trouble couldnt it? A company could take on a complete tool, spending a lot in the process - because referee gave glowing reference , and then feel they had to sue referee\previous company