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Sadiq Khan

Bonkers Blog April 2016

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1 April (Part 1) - They are Judge and Jury when dealing with the public

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.

The action taken by Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee against Councillor Maxine Fothergill had all the makings of a major scandal which might lead to police action, but it all fizzled out. But not quite. One of the members of the public who was excluded from the meeting has continued to ask awkward questions.

Bexley Council tried to reject his complaint on the grounds that he made it more than seven days after the alleged unlawful exclusion because they have set their own rule which says that complaints about meetings must be made within a week.

I do not pretend to understand all the legal arguments that have ensued but I have been able to work out that there never was a written complaint from a member of the public about Maxine Fothergill. This, so the complainant claims, is contrary to the provisions of the Localism Act.

That Councillor Maxine Fothergill has done nothing worse than create too many high powered enemies within Council seems ever more likely.

Bexley Council is probably awash with back-stabbers.

The Council’s rejection of the exclusion complaint and their mishandling of the hearing of the case against the Councillor appears to be heading for Court, so I will refrain from further comment.

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