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Sadiq Khan

Bonkers Blog December 2015

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Craske saved

8 December (Part 2) - Open and transparent? I don’t think so

This blog is one of several relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and linked from the relevant Index page. Together they cover five different subjects all related in some way to Ms. Fothergill.

• Some cover her Code of Conduct Committee hearing which resulted in sanctions against Councillor Fothergill. It was alleged that she used her position as Councillor to obtain a financial advantage. viz. that she bought a bungalow from a vulnerable Bexley resident at an advantageous price.
No evidence that Ms. Fothergill paid less than the market price ever came to light and the alleged victim did not make the written complaint necessary to cause a Code of Conduct hearing. When Bexley Council was pressed to provide evidence it could only point to a document written by a Member of its own Code of Conduct Committee, Judge and Jury.
The probability is that the Leader of Bexley Council was unwilling to forgive the fact that Maxine Fothergill had brought down the Leader’s preferred election candidate by reporting him to the police for more than one theft. The sanctions appeared to be nothing but retribution. The Leader of Bexley Council is renowned for her ruthless retribution.
The police issued a caution.
• Others show how she was alleged to have conducted her business affairs in a way that some of her associates considered ethically dubious and have almost no link to Bexley Council.
• Councillor Maxine Fothergill fought Sevenoaks Council over an unauthorised house extension and lost. There is again no Bexley Council link apart from it becoming clear that her main residence is not in the borough
• When a resident requested a Judicial Review of Bexley Council’s refusal to state that it would always comply with the law they managed to convince a barrister that he was taking issue with them over the entirely unconnected issue of the verdict given by the Code of Conduct Committee Committee in the Maxine Fothergill case.
Nothing could be further from the truth and there is documentary evidence to that effect that Bexley Council lied to their barrister.
Nevertheless the barrister persuaded a judge to refuse to hear the Judical Review and Bexley Council, dishonest to the last, billed the resident the cost of hiring their tame barrister.
• Councillor Fothergill was sued for libel and lost.

Collecting information, taking pictures and writing the blog requires that time is juggled efficiently and today I got it wrong. One of the research jobs took longer than anticipated and my doctor surprised me by offering a same day appointment. And this evening there is another Scrutiny meeting to attend.

There is a public council meeting on Thursday morning too. The Members’ Code of Conduct Complaints Sub-Committee. They are usually cancelled because no one can be bothered to make a complaint about a councillor any more. I tried once and when councillor Craske was caught out he fabricated a new excuse which was allowed.

These days the Committee is run by councillor Cheryl Bacon whose name is right now in front of the Crown Prosecution Service’s Special Case Unit and councillor Nigel Betts who would like to prevent the taking of photographs in the council chamber, even though that would be illegal. Just the sort of people you would expect the OBE (Overlooking Bacon’s Errors) to choose to set standards in Bexley.

However on Thursday the almost unprecedented is in prospect, a councillor is to face Bacon and Betts to answer a complaint at a public meeting.

Except that this public meeting is going to be held in private. Of the 204 pages in the Agenda, all but eight are blank.
In camera
RestrictedThe only possible purpose in a member of the public showing up is to note who goes into Public Gallery East. As well as the aforementioned rogues, Stefano Borella is on the committee. Anyone else will be coated in Teflon or tar and feathers dependent on their political allegiance.

In almost every court of justice in the land the mantra is that justice must be seen to be done. But not in Bexley where they prefer to hold private meetings that will “resolve the situation”.


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