Cutting the public out totally of what appears to be a very serious breach of
the Members’ Code of Conduct will inevitably bring a load more opprobrium down
on Bexley Council. Presumably they think it is preferable to the alternative; a
court appearance perhaps. The protection placed around Councillor Maxine
Fothergill (Conservative, Colyers, £12,418 p.a.) for whatever she has done is in marked contrast to putting
details in the newspaper when Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis got in a strop with a resident.
Presumably Councillor Fothergill was engaged in far worse than a petty disagreement. If the rumour mill is to be believed it was attempted fraud.
Past performance shows that when Bexley Council has been badly caught out they will go into lockdown mode as far as is possible and lie prolifically when forced to say something. This is what keeps BiB going. Instead of ditching the bad apples as soon as possible Bexley Council prefers people to believe they are all crooks together protecting their own.
And so the long drawn out search for the truth begins.
I thought the Freedom of Information request for evidence that the complainant requested anonymity was an excellent first shot against Bexley’s initial excuse for silence. Information was exempted because it related to an individual.
If the gossip is true, the Fothergill case involves four individuals. The Councillor, her accomplice, the victim and the complainant.
Within 20 working days we should learn Bexley’s reasons for keeping the complainant’s name secret.
The other important item of information that Bexley Council has not, unlike on past occasions, put in the public domain is a summary of the ‘crime’.
We know that it was designed to enrich Councillor Maxine Fothergill because the verdict passed on her says so. It was “conferring an advantage or other material benefits for herself”
We can also be pretty sure it was not a simple offence because the meeting opened at 10:30 in the morning and the verdict wasn’t reached until 17:04.
With the initially loose tongues now all gone silent the only way forward is another Freedom of Information request.
Please supply a copy of the complaint against Councillor Maxine Fothergill, that led to her appearance before the Members Code of Conduct Complaints Sub Committee on 10th December 2015.
Please provide details of the allegations made against Councillor Maxine Fothergill and/or any other council employee, that led to the appearance of Councillor Fothergill before the Members Code of Conduct Complaints Sub Committee on 10th December 2015.
Please provide details of any disciplinary proceedings, sanctions, or appearance before any authority, against any council employee who was involved in the allegations made against Councillor Fothergill, which led to her appearance before the Members Code of Conduct Complaints Sub Committee on 10th December 2015.
Please provide copies of all correspondence relating to the decision to put Councillor Fothergill before the Members Code of Conduct Complaints Sub Committee on 10th December 2015, together with details of the individuals involved in the decision making process.
Please provide copies of all correspondence relating to any discussion and/or decision, as to whether or not the allegations made against Councillor Maxine Fothergill and/or any other council employee, should or should not be forwarded to the police for investigation of possible criminal offences.
By the end of the month we should know how Bexley Council intends to wriggle out of that one, for wriggle they will. They know by now what happens if suspicions of criminality are aroused. Michael Barnbrook sends the details to Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Bexley Council never seems to understand that evasion merely increases suspicions. However if the gossip is true and they own up to it they merely ensure the case goes to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. A rock and a hard place, but it’s where deceivers most often end up.
I expect you are fed up with not knowing precisely what that gossip is and I would agree, the teasing has gone on long enough. The bare bones of it will appear on Monday.