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Bonkers Blog May 2016

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There is no criticism of Councillor Maxine Fothergill in this blog.

25 May (Part 3) - Murky goings on in Bexley. Who wrote what?

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reporting one of their associates to the police for theft and as a result his candidacy at a local election had to be withdrawn.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

I had hoped that Mr. Watson whose email to Bexley Council threatening Judicial Review was placed on BiB yesterday would be able to produce the evidence that there was no written complaint against Councillor Maxine Fothergill. He came up trumps.


TylerJohn sent me a copy of an email dated 18th April 2016 from Lynn (I’m still being considered by the CPS for a charge of Misconduct in Public Office) Tyler, who works for Akin (I’m not really a solicitor) Alabi; Bexley’s top legal officer.

Lynn Tyler considers that the complainant is “frail and vulnerable”. An intermediary I sent to speak to the elderly lady’s friend said she had a heart problem and stress was best avoided but she is alert and mercifully free from significant mental degeneration.

However Bexley Council considered the old lady to be incapable of a written complaint and sent a Social Worker to interview her “to establish the allegations in full”.

That report was “conveyed to the Council Officer” and “an Investigating Officer was appointed”. He discovered that the Social Worker’s report had not “established the allegations in full” because two more were added to the list.

Bexley Council considers that the Investigating Officer’s report is a written complaint from a member of the public. “Thus the Committee had before it, as required, details of the allegations in writing.”

This is the same procedure as that adopted by Ms. Tyler following Councillor Cheryl Bacon’s mishandling of the Scrutiny meeting she chaired in June 2013. She prepared four statements on behalf of Bacon and three Council Officers. They were neither signed nor dated and in one case the Council Officer didn’t have a clue that ‘his statement’ existed when shown a copy.

All four statements were amateur jobs unworthy of anyone with legal experience and, as tends to happen when lies are committed to paper, were riddled with inconsistencies. One was altered nearly a year later to better support Bexley Council’s dishonesty. Greenwich police (Bexley cannot be trusted to investigate their masters) took months to unravel all the false statements and submit their case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ms. Tyler went on to say in her email of 18th April that being unable to write a complaint does not preclude making one. One might have some sympathy with that view if she was dealing with a genuine illiterate but if she is suggesting that an elderly adult is sufficiently demented as to be incapable of stringing words together with a pen it casts some doubt on the legal validity of the complaint especially when no one thought to obtain a signature. But unsigned statements appear to be a regular feature of Ms. Tyler’s work. With her boss not being a solicitor one can easily imagine how such legal norms are overlooked in Bexley.

John Watson has suggested that if the complainant is really as frail and vulnerable as Ms. Tyler has stated she could be easily manipulated by a corrupt Council and that is what Bexley has so often proved to be.

Mr. Alabi has said in a letter dated 28th March 2016 that Mr. Watson “has no standing” to make a complaint about any breach of correct procedure and that only Councillor Fothergill can do so but as he is not a qualified solicitor his advice is worth no more than yours or mine. Personally I doubt I would be forbidden to report a crime against a neighbour but in Bexley things can be very odd. The police here claimed that only Bexley Council could report a crime when its last Conservative Leader put his hand in the till. And Bexley Council decided they would rather protect him than embarrass him. Most of the money was never repaid.

 

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