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Bonkers Blog April 2016

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Doubt is cast on Bexley Council’s allegations against Councillor Maxine Fothergill.

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

The blog below is one of around 40 relating to Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill and Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee. It took that many blogs to at first factually report what the Code of Conduct Committee had decided and then unravel the truth.

More than a dozen Freedom of Information requests eventually led to the conclusion that Councillor Fothergill had been the victim of a plot by senior Bexley Councillors to discredit her and the fact that she spotted a business opportunity while canvassing for the Tories was just a convenient hook on which to hang her out to dry.

It took two months of enquiries for Councillor Fothergill’s innocence (link) to become virtually certain and for the suspicions based on Bexley Council’s assertions to evaporate. Eventually innocence was proved (link) beyond reasonable doubt.

This note aims to make it clear that the events reported between December 2015 and the Summer of 2016 whilst accurate reflections of various events, disciplinary hearings and sanctions brought against Councillor Fothergill they are individually insufficient to explain the whole story.

The most convincing explanation for the vendetta against Councillor Fothergill is that the Tory High Command in Bexley had taken their revenge because Councillor Fothergill embarrassed them by reporting one of their associates to the police for theft and as a result his candidacy at a local election had to be withdrawn.

It was imperative that Councillor Fothergill was taught a lesson.

For reasons that are hard to fathom, in December 2017 Councillor Fothergill decided that the defence of her position which unfolded on this blog over several months was criminal harassment in spite of the fact that without it everyone who read the report on Bexley Council’s website would continue to believe she had been genuinely guilty of breaching their Code of Conduct.

Councillor Fothergill reported the blogs to the police and Sergeant 11901 Robbie Cooke at Swanley Police Station failed to conduct any investigation whatsoever and ludicrously decided that there was a case to be answered in the Magistrates’ Court. Fortunately the Crown Prosecution Service had more sense.

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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