Going across to Tower Hamlets last night didn’t seem to be a worthwhile
proposition when there was a high probability that their extraordinary council meeting was likely
to be voted into closed session. In the event the vote went the other way and
this report comes second hand from someone with more confidence in the
democratic process than me.
Instead I went to meet Michael Barnbrook for the first time in many weeks because he had set up a meeting with legal advice on how a private prosecution might be attempted against Will Tuckley and councillor Cheryl Bacon in the event of the Crown Prosecution Service not proceeding with the case against them.
With commendable foresight Mick set up a bank account as soon as Will Tuckley refused to investigate the complaint against Cheryl Bacon and half a dozen of us have been paying into it by standing order every month since. There is no shortage of funds for a private prosecution.
Tower Hamlets has an elected Labour mayor, 24 Labour councillors, 17 Independents and five Conservatives and has been run by government appointed Commissioners since the previous Mayor disgraced himself during the 2014 elections.
Bexley Chief Executive Will Tuckley had been chosen from a shortlist of four to be appointed Tower Hamlets’ Chief Executive and the decision was to be nodded through last night. However Mr. Michael Barnbrook from Blackfen threw a spanner into the works last week by informing the Commissioners of Mr. Tuckley’s perversion of justice in Bexley - he refused to investigate claims by several people including councillors, that councillor Cheryl Bacon had lied in support of her decision to illegally close a public meeting.
Tuckley said several times over a period of many months that he would only take account of the liar’s statement and not those of five councillors, four members of the public and a council employee all of whom contradicted almost every word of Cheryl Bacon’s account.
The Commissioners took Mick Barnbrook’s statement quite seriously, asking both Tuckley and Bexley council leader Teresa O’Neill OBE (Obligatory Beguiling Excuses) before the meeting to explain why the facts of the criminal investigation into the allegations against Will Tuckley’s had not been declared earlier.
The meeting ran for a little over half an hour chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the council, Councillor Rajib Ahmed. In attendance were all the Conservatives, most of the Labour councillors and Independents. The government Commissioner, Sir Ken Knight was also there but not Mr. Tuckley.
The meeting was informed that Bexley is Bonkers is Mick Barnbrook’s blog - which is really very funny considering Mick struggles to send an email, let alone write computer code - and everyone appeared to believe it. Those present were informed that Mick is a “vexatious blogger”, so as you can see no one in Tower Hamlets is much concerned with facts.
The Labour leader Councillor Rachel Saunders said that the blog is Fascist, further proof that Tower Hamlets council is partially comprised of ignoramuses. Maybe I should sue her.
Will Tuckley had submitted in his defence of his less than fulsome job application that the police had not asked for comment since last December which I believe to be true. I have seen Bexley council’s defence and I commented to the investigating officer “they would say that wouldn’t they”. His reply was to the effect that there was no choice other than admitting guilt.
Since then the investigation was at first delayed because mutually convenient dates for councillor interviews were hard to come and then because the principal investigating officer was unavoidably taken off the case for a couple of months, but he has since given assurances that he personally presented the case to the Crown Prosecution Service because of his belief in the sound evidence presented. He also warned that there may be a considerable delay before the CPS reaches a decision.
All of this contradicts what Tower Hamlets council was told last night. The police sought solicitors’ advice months ago and determined there was a case to answer. Far from not taking any action, Greenwich police made it totally clear to me that the case was serious enough to lead to a prison sentence. Either Bexley council has been submitting porkies to Tower Hamlets or the investigating officer in Greenwich is as bad as his counterparts in Bexley. I remain very confident that the investigating officer is a man of total integrity.
So Will Tuckley has jumped ship with both Labour and Tory councillors in Tower Hamlets backing him and only the Independents led by Councillor Rhabid Khan expressing doubts by abstaining.
What now? Bexley is well rid of Tuckley obviously but who should replace him?
Several years ago, at the time Bexley council was busy rejecting the petition to pay more reasonable salaries to its senior managers, Eric Pickles the Communities Secretary back then was of the opinion that no council should have both a full time leader and a chief executive. Bexley council defied him but it seems like an admirable plan to me.
This appears to be Bexley’s Labour group’s position too. Councillor Alan Deadman is quoted in the News Shopper as follows…
With the pending departure of Bexley's Chief Executive there comes a great opportunity to finish remodelling Bexley's senior management team, fulfil Labour's election pledge of not replacing the Chief Executive, and get better value for the taxpayer.
In the face of huge cuts to council services, it cannot be right that the Chief Executive gets paid £200,000 a year while many residents and council employees struggle to make ends meet on, or below the London living wage."
Too bloody true!