Here are some facts to ponder…
• 9 June 2011. Chief Executive Will Tuckley wrote about the obscene blog: “I have referred the matter to the police”.
• 11 October 2011. A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Bexley council asked; “How many criminal investigations are currently being investigated against Bexley Council?”
• 24 October 2011. The FOI request (11/994) was refused on the grounds that no records are kept.
• 24 October 2011. An FOI appeal asked “Is Chief Executive Will Tuckley AWARE of any employee or Councillor having been interviewed by the Metropolitan Police in connection with any allegation of crime made against Bexley Council in the last six months in connection with an obscene blog?”
• 24 October 2011. Detective Constable Neil Thomas referred to the obscene blog as “a counter allegation by Malcolm Knight and Elwyn Bryant” and went on to say “I attended Bexley council offices with DCI Funnell on 7 July 2011. We had a meeting with Will Tuckley. We outlined the intention of the police enquiry would be to arrest any suspects if any offences were disclosed”.
• 3 November 2011. The FOI appeal dated 24 October received a one word answer. “No.”
• 21 November 2011. Formal complaint registered against Chief Executive Will Tuckley (referring to the conflicts detailed above) for “breaching the general principles of the code of conduct”.
The complaint brought forth the following from Mr. Paul Moore, Head of Corporate Services.
“The dispute relates to the phrasing ‘interview’ contrasted with the phrase ‘meeting with Will Tuckley’. I am sure we could debate at some length the difference between a meeting and an interview. I do not accept that a misunderstanding along these lines constitutes a breach of the code of conduct.” (†)
So Will Tuckley didn’t realise when asked if he knew anything about an investigation into an obscene blog that a visit by two police officers and their talk of arrest constituted any sort of police investigation? Not very bright is he?
As might be expected, Mr. Moore had to defend his boss. He choose to argue that an interview and a meeting are very different things and totally ignored the fact that the FOI of 11th October was about “criminal investigations”. Protecting a £130k. salary instead of accepting reality may not be the most dastardly of crimes but what does it say about Chief Executive Will Tuckley? He referred the matter of the obscene blog to the police, he was present when DC Thomas pursued the case by means of a meeting at which arrests were discussed, yet when replying to a member of the public who asked if he was aware of any investigation he chose to say he was not.
The use of the word ‘enquiries’ and ‘suspects’ indicates that the police report on their investigation - see below - must refer to the obscene blog. If it was a reference to the harassment issue names would appear, not unknown suspects, and there was no need for IT data except for an investigation into the obscene blog.
Another FOI revealed that Mr. Tuckley personally reviews all the FOIs submitted by the resident in question so he cannot claim ignorance of the original question referring to an investigation. Whether the police visit of 7th July was an interview or a meeting is irrelevant. It was clearly part of an investigation - the subject of the FOI.
Does this entitle us to believe that Chief Executive Will Tuckley is a stranger to the truth? I am inclined to think it does.
Can it really be true that Bexley council does not keep any records of police investigations?
† The extract from the letter is abbreviated. The full version is available here.