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Sadiq Khan

Bonkers Blog February 2016

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11 February (Part 1) - Curiouser and curiouser

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.

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 must 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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