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Bonkers Blog February 2016

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

11 February (Part 1) - Curiouser and curiouser

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reporting one of their associates to the police for theft and as a result his candidacy at a local election had to be withdrawn.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.

There has been another response to a Maxine Fothergill related Freedom of Information request by Bexley Council and it takes things forward only a little. Like everything else discovered so far it provides no evidence that Councillor Fothergill is guilty of anything except that she may have stumbled upon a seller and buyer for a small bungalow while performing councillor duties. What was she supposed to do, ignore the opportunity?

Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee pronounced a verdict of Misconduct and embellished it with an announcement that Councillor Fothergill had “conferred a financial advantage on herself”.

Two days ago Bexley Council confirmed Mr. Barnbrook’s guess that some of Maxine Fothergill’s business transactions may have been conducted on Bexley Council notepaper and from Council email addresses but refused to release the content on the grounds that it “would be likely to prejudice the Council’s exercise of its functions”. Its main function being to suppress the truth of course.

There is no obvious connection between abusing Council notepaper and obtaining financial advantages but maybe the content made claims or promises that are beyond the comprehension of honest people.

There may be a missing link somewhere. An early thought was that Councillor Fothergill had been fitted up by more senior councillors. Despite the years of experience that should have taught me otherwise, it is too easy to make decisions based on the supposition that a senior councillor will behave with integrity. Maybe that thought should not have been so readily dismissed

Although the complainant has been traced there has been no information on what the complaint was about. What if it did not amount to much, a storm in a teacup used as an excuse to attack Councillor Fothergill by those who have taken against her?

We know that the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Committee, Cheryl Bacon, is capable of the most enormous lies. She said that I and four or five other members of the public rampaged around the council chamber on 19th June 2013 when the truth was that everyone sat quietly mesmerized by the Chairman of the meeting, Cheryl Bacon, in full on panic mode. Four councillors were so appalled by those lies that they supplied written statements to the police. The case is now with counsel at the Crown Prosecution Service.

Bexley’s Legal Team is no better. Lynn Tyler, the Legal Team Manager, (below centre) produced unsigned and undated statements in support of Cheryl Bacon, except that they didn’t. As is always the case with lying, those statements fell apart upon critical analysis, something that kept the police occupied for at least six months last year. Ms. Tyler’s boss, Akin Alabi, also supported Cheryl Bacon’s lies.
Legal Team
So at least three people present during Councillor Fothergill’s conduct hearing are known to be content to distort the truth out of all recognition. If a stitch up had been demanded they are the people who could be relied upon to deliver it.

Perhaps that is why it has been reported that the Independent Person couldn’t see that Councillor Maxine Fothergill had done anything wrong. Neither can I. All that has been proved is that Bexley Council’s top priority is secrecy. Nothing, however trivial, must be allowed to damage what remains of Bexley Council’s reputation. One day they may realise that honesty is the best policy.

Note: The Code of Conduct Appeals Committee meeting scheduled for 24th February has been cancelled.


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