I am afraid that what follows is not really appropriate to the Season of
Goodwill to all Men but if you have any sense you will not be reading Bonkers on
Christmas Eve anyway, but for readers who don’t like bullying Councillors and have wrapped their presents early
or are perhaps avoiding the washing up or the Queen’s Speech on the 25th, here’s an update on the Massey business, the spiteful
pair who think that repeating what they themselves put in the public domain on BiB or revealing what they did in a public place is a criminal act.
And to think the same degree of intellect is responsible for all Bexley
Council's budget decisions!
You know the story by now but if you don’t there is a summary for you to read.
After six months the police came to the same conclusion that most other people did on Day 1 and this is their brief confirmation
Dear Mr Knight,
I sincerely apologise for the delay in updating you with the police position on the blogs posted regarding the Larch Grove party. You will I’m sure be happy to hear that no further action is being taken against you in this respect. However, I must remind you that case law and legislation is evolving all the time in respect of the internet and publishing and what may be ok today may not be so in the future. Even under current legislation every set of circumstances presented could mean that laws are broken. Please be mindful of this.
As you might imagine, being threatened with arrest by a couple of rather aggressive cops, the female one particularly so, does tend to push up oneְ’s stress levels somewhat even though various people, some with a legal background, assured me that I had not got anywhere near to committing an offence. Nevertheless I was left to wonder what was going to happen next for seven months. It seems to me that it might be yet another example of how Bexley police will always dance when Bexley Council pulls their string.
We saw it when an obscene blog was traced to Cabinet Member Peter Craske’s internet connection and a new and naive Borough Commander, unacquainted with Bexley's ways, was appointed. Craske was arrested very soon afterwards - 13 months after the offence was committed. But heavy duty political strings were pulled and Bexley Council was able to set up a meeting with the Crown Prosecution Service for one purpose only. To get Councillor Craske off the hook. The corruption which has been rife at Bexleyheath police station is still under investigation. It is only a week since the current investigating officer told me that he had uncovered yet another piece of paper which should have been revealed to him long ago.
Bexley police took to the dance floor again when Bexley Council became concerned that their cover up of Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s minor transgression of the Local Government Act began to unravel and they had to get the police to change their original story that no member of the public had misbehaved at a Council meeting. As a result of that a police constable recently had his knuckles rapped for getting his first report wrong! Or at least that is what the letter from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) said. More likely, it was a lie and they did nothing.
The Independent Police Complaints Commision sent that case back to the DPS for further investigation. Maybe they will do their job properly this time.
I would not suggest that overreacting to the Massey’s demands is in the same league as falsely claiming there was no evidence to pursue a Council crime or rewriting crime reports at the request of Bexley Council a year after the event, but it is not in my opinion something to be shrugged off. If what I had done was borderline illegal, wanting to interview me about it would be acceptable, but it was not anywhere near to being illegal according to professionals both legal and journalistic. That being the case the police must be either incapable of making any sort of reasonable judgment and therefore incompetent, or they are as beholden to Bexley Council as I think they are. So I dashed off the following missive.
Thank you for your email which did not come as a surprise.
Immediately after your two officers told me on 20th May 2016 that a Miss Victoria Massey had made an allegation of harassment I referred all relevant blogs to [name redacted] who among other things checks news items for legal compliance at [name of major news outlet redacted]. She said that nothing I had written fell foul of the law nor would it offend against the more stringent standards [redacted] adopts.
Had the story been of national importance she would have been passed it fit for publication and would not have felt it necessary to blur a photograph which was in the public domain and could be found without difficulty. I think one can therefore conclude that what I published did not come anywhere near being unlawful.
I brought together various items which were already in the public domain. Among them that the local business run by two Bexley Councillors, Don and Sharon Massey had failed (Companies House); that their Register of Interests (Bexley Council) no longer listed a home in this borough and that the Larch Road address was used for partying. (From unprotected Facebook pages).
A Larch Road resident, Mrs Briggs, provided details of disturbances which had warranted attendance by the police. None of what she said, and most certainly no part of the extract I published, has ever been in dispute. Neither has anyone disputed the business failure, the sale of the Massey’s Bexley home or the purchase of another in Rochester. All of those things were available to anyone spending five minutes with a search engine.
I have photographs of the Masseys in and around their new house which I have not felt appropriate for publication but again they are not hard to find on the web. Never have they shown the slightest interest in keeping their activities private and their self publicity has continued unabated long after they made their unwarranted accusation right up to recent days.
Given the professional advice of a legally trained journalist that I did not get anywhere near to committing an offence and your confirmation that my carefully worded blogs were not unlawful I would like to know precisely which part of my blog the police officer who decided to send three officers to my house believed broke or got near to breaking whatever legal threshold he had decided was in force on the day in question.
I informed your Chief Superintendent on 3rd June that I did not intend to make a complaint about the two officers who threatened me with arrest despite PC346RY Kirsty Stephens being in my opinion unnecessarily confrontational and aggressive but those intentions do not apply to the officer (Detective Sergeant [redacted]) who made the decision to despatch them.
Unless you can identify something that I published which went well beyond anything referenced above and was unarguably borderline illegal I consider that the officer was at fault.
You have previously said that the police consider themselves obliged to assume that every accusation of harassment is a valid one “unless there is credible evidence to the contrary”. That credible evidence was the blog which no one, from experts through to other Councillors, including Conservative Councillors, believe got anywhere near to being harassment.
Please let me know what I wrote that your officer believed might be unlawful when all the evidence is that it was a long way short of that which in turn suggests he is either incompetent, for not checking the facts on my website, or more likely succumbed to a repetition of the political pressure placed on Bexley police which we both know is the subject of two separate investigations already.
At the moment I do not see how this case will not become the basis of a third.
Beyond the fact that Miss Massey (who I had not named at the time) made a complaint about my reference to a party I have no idea what exactly I am supposed to have done that would interest the police yet you ask me to be “mindful” of the need to observe the law which you say “is evolving daily”.
How am I supposed to be even more cautious when you provide not the slightest clue as to how close I came to a transgression back in April and May? How can bringing together pieces of information gleaned from the web and available to anyone become a crime and how can any sensible police officer reach that conclusion when the evidence it is not is just a mouse click away?
Unless you can identify an issue I have failed to see a formal complaint against the officer who made the decision looks to be the inevitable next step.
Similarly, and once again referring to your email dated 15th June 2016, unless you can identify something I did that any reasonable person would regard as “stalking” or “which causes serious alarm and distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the day to day activities of the victim” then another logical next step would be for me to make an allegation of malicious harassment against the Masseys.
Repeating what they had themselves decided was appropriate for public consumption together with information from official sources cannot possibly have caused as much stress as being accused of a criminal act, threatened with arrest on my own doorstep and then being left in limbo for more than six months.
I look forward to your response in the New Year.
For regular readers reports such as that above may seem repetitious, for which I apologise, but new readers come along all the time. What spewed forth from a keyboard at the end of Councillor Craske’s telephone line has been available on a password protected page since June 2011 - Bexley Council suggested to the police that I should be prosecuted for placing it there - but someone must have read it for the first time this week.
Just looked at the the Craske blog. I can’t believe he wrote it. Has he got a 12 year old son? If he has not, the man must be pathetic!