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Have you noticed how many times my MP’s name has been mentioned this month?
Accompanying me to various meetings with the police over the Craske business and making her Portcullis House office available to me.
She quietly sent a letter of support to Kent Police, I only found out from them. She didn’t tell me she had done it and I don’t know what she said. And then she offered to do my shopping when the flu was at its worst.
Considering how far to the right I am of her politically I think that is all rather remarkable. Teresa says it is not.
And now I am going to tell you about something else Teresa Peace has done for me and quite likely everyone else in the Thamesmead and Abbey Wood area over the past few months. She modestly says she didn’t do anything that a good MP would not do and maybe so but she willingly did it and kept at it when things weren’t going as well as I had hoped.
It needs quite a lot of background explanation, sorry about that.
I used to spend every day inside telephone exchanges. It was a long time ago. The most modern of them could signal the caller’s number to the operator - remember them? Operators no longer needed to ask "Number please" and be subject to the inevitable cheating caller; there was no easy check.
So I became an enthusiast for what we now call Caller Display. (CLID). The moment it became available to the public I was off down the BT Shop - remember them too? - to buy a new telephone and pay my £1.75 a month service charge.
I soon noticed it didn’t always work properly. I made careful notes and came to the conclusion that the failures were dependent on which route the originating call took. Off peak the CLID might work but at busy times it did not.
This was all 20 years ago when BT offered an accessible customer service so I was eventually able to pull a few strings and get to talk to an engineer who knew what I was talking about. Together we worked out that some of the incoming digital switches in the Thamesmead exchange had a bit set back to front. It reversed the effect of the 141 code which toggles the WITHHELD flag.
A number or incorrectly set switches were put right and the problem went away.
In October 2014 it came back again with a vengeance. Around 50% of my calls were showing WITHHELD when they shouldn’t. I reported it to BT.
They said they knew about it and it occurred when the call originated on a small rural exchange which had been recently upgraded for fibre broadband. Dependent on which manufacturer’s equipment had been installed there was a software conflict with CLID. Give them a few months they said and they would fix it.
Fair enough and as it happened all of my regular out of London callers were on such exchanges. About six months later BT remembered me and called to say they had fixed the problem.
Except that they hadn’t. The problem was as bad as it ever was.
I started to keep notes again. I came to the conclusion that calls from London and the other big cities never failed to display correctly. The same went for those in the Outer London area such Erith and Orpington and all mobile numbers. It was just most or all numbers that began 01 which corrupted the CLID data.
I told BT but they told me I was nuts and by 2015 my knowledge of telephony was hopelessly out of date. Worse was that BT had closed down all public access to people who knew their arse from their elbow. The best they offer now is someone reading from a script in a Call Centre.
Every few months I would write in again and always be ignored, even when to the Chairman’s Office. Nearly 50% of my incoming calls from 01 numbers gave bad CLID data. Naturally I had checked with a phone plugged into the master test socket, changed the phone and - don’t tell everyone - I have two landlines, and they were both affected.
Eventually it occurred to me that if my old theory about peak time alternative routing was correct then everyone served by the Thamesmead exchange would be affected so I explained my theory to Teresa Pearce on 12th August 2017.
She immediately saw the point I was making, BT might be sending bad CLID data to most of her constituents. She wrote to BT’s Chairman on my behalf.
A week or so later a lady called me from the Chairman’s Office to say I was talking rot. CLID was one of those things that either worked or did not and it was wholly dependent on the caller and their use of the 141 code. My friends and relations were all pranking me by using 141. Yes she actually said that!
Three years previously BT had told me that CLID was software and who knows of any complex software that is perfect?
The lady and I ‘had words’ but she told me I couldn’t complain further because she was the Chairman’s Office and there was nowhere else to go. I said there was always OFCOM and Teresa offered to help again.
Things then began to move forward. For the past three months or so I have had to log all my incoming calls by time and number and report to BT every two days which was a bit of a pain. However I was assured the data was being studied by a specialist team which was tinkering with the software.
We went through phases when things became far worse with London numbers and mobiles failing to display. Even BT’s own headquarters on one occasion but by mid December BT was suggesting they may have cracked the software problem and since then there have been no failures.
Today the Chairman’s Office lady called again somewhat contritely. She said that my theory about peak time routing was absolutely right and it became hugely complicated but the development team was very grateful for my persistence.
"Was the whole of the Thamesmead exchange affected" I asked. "Yes" the lady said. "The whole country?" "Not sure, it was all well beyond my comprehension."
But at least everyone connected to the Thamesmead exchange should now be able to rely on CLID although the BT lady was now at pains to point out that no software is 100% reliable. Not what she was saying back in August.
And you have Teresa Pearce to thank for that, I could not have done it without her.
A journalist phoned me on Friday and I picked up some interesting information about Kent Police charging me with the harassment of Councillor Maxine Fothergill. The conversation went something like this…
I’ve been reading your blog and I cannot see what you are supposed to have done wrong.
Well I’ve reported on past misdemeanours [the Code of Conduct case, the house extension for which there was no permission and the reporting of at least two employees to the police] and most recently a High Court case. So many reports and returning to the subject over a handful of days makes it harassment according to Kent Police.
No it doesn’t.
Actually I was in touch with the Councillor while reporting her libel settlement but even before doing so she was emailing me to ask me to take everything off the web. She did that as soon as I referred to the Court listing and before the details were known. I was not unsympathetic, in fact I felt quite sorry for her and that is why I got the whole business over so quickly [16th to 19th November] and wrote to tell her so. She was still not happy, nothing less that complete removal of every reference to her was acceptable. She wrote to tell me so.
She has no right to do that. People do tend not to appreciate being in the headlines but that is the nature of news I am afraid. Did you know that there are absolute exemptions in law when reporting Court cases?
No, what is that all about?
Basically, unless the Judge directs otherwise, everything that is said in Court and the evidence presented may be reported without fear of retribution. It’s a bit like Parliamentary Privilege, you cannot be in trouble for saying things in Parliament nor can you be prosecuted for reporting it. If for example the discussion in Court might run foul of data protection laws no sanctions could arise from reporting that discussion. The police really have no case against you.
Does that all hold true for blogs like mine? Or is it only the established media that can claim the exemption?
Oh no, it covers you, there have been test cases to establish that.
So you don’t think the police will be able to make a successful case against me?
No chance. From what I can see there are a lot of journalists who would love to be in your position.
How come? I don’t like it one little bit.
Well they would probably be keen to, err .
Make monkeys of the police?
Something like that.
Where do you think I should go with this next?
Not sure. All my contacts are in national news and they won’t be very interested in local squabbles. I’ll have a think about it.
If Kent Police can get away with suppressing news reports you won’t know what trick may be pulled next.
Yes, that is potentially very worrying but I think they are just being very silly.
Full Disclosure. This is not a verbatim report, some bits are but it is mainly my best recollection.
The journalist is my daughter, she is qualified to degree level and has worked for a news organisation everyone has heard of for the past 20 years or more.
She counts among her closest friends a university lecturer in media law. He has advised me from time to time in the past when things have become a little tricky.
When you are kept awake through the night by the flu or Kent Police one’s
mind can stray into strange territories, one was the widespread assumption that
Bonkers relies on a lot of leaks from mouthy Councillors.
I know of one Conservative Councillor who was hauled before Teresa O’Neill’s Kangaroo Court after she was seen talking to me in the Council Chamber and given a very rough time indeed for doing so. It was so severe that her husband told me about it presumably because he wanted me to very aware of the consequences of a friendly conversation. My own Councillor Danny Hackett was warned by a Bexley Council Director that he should not talk to me. Danny appears to have ignored him.
Things may have become more relaxed since then but I am still accused of gathering embarrassing information from talkative Councillors and it just isn’t true. I compiled a few statistics.
4 • Labour Councillors with whom I have never exchanged a single word on anything.
4 • Labour Councillors with whom the conversation has never gone beyond “hello, how are you”.
5 • Labour Councillors who I could email without going through their @bexley.gov.uk addresses. (Excludes Danny Hackett since he changed jobs two months ago!)
3 • Conservative Councillors who I could email without going through their @bexley.gov.uk addresses.
3 • UKIP Councillors who I could email without going through their @bexley.gov.uk addresses.
1 • Councillor other than current and past married couples whose spouses’s names are known to me. (Conservative.)
1 • Councillors whose car I might recognise - I know the make and type. (Conservative.)
1 • Councillors whose spouse’s car I might recognise - I know the make and type. (Conservative.)
0 • Councillors’ addresses known to me without looking them up. (Two I have an idea within half a dozen houses because I occasionally pass them by. One from each main party.)
2 • Councillors who I have bumped into in the street by chance and who have been happy to engage in friendly Council related conversation. One from each main party.
2 • Councillor mobile phone numbers on my mobile Contact list. One is Danny Hackett’s and the other was last used in April 2015.
1 • The number of home landline phone numbers (with name) registered on my landline telephone’s memory. (Conservative.)
1 • The number of work phone numbers (with name) registered on my landline telephone’s memory. (Conservative.)
1 • The number of mobile phone numbers (with name) registered on my landline telephone’s memory. (Conservative.)
4 • Councillors who have Direct Messaged me on Twitter. One UKIP, one Conservative, two Labour.
2 • The number of Councillors who have knocked on my door and been invited in. Twice in one case.
1 • The number of Councillors who I have met to discuss Council matters on neutral ground. (Conservative.)
1 • The number of anonymous brown envelopes that have been sent to my address. (Plus one which came via Michael Barnbrook’s address.)
Perhaps I should repeat that Danny Hackett is my own local Councillor.
I don’t know about you but the list does not look very impressive to me. I have been directly accused - in a friendly way - by a Cabinet Member of feeding off of Labour Councillors’ leaks but the buggers say almost nothing. As the statistics show, more than half of them might as well be mute as far as I am concerned.
I don’t think I have ever received a useful leak although some Councillors have tried to influence Bonkers editorially. Both Conservative and both made their case well in my opinion.
It used to be the case that Bonkers would not report anything particularly
serious at a weekend because the number of readers is much higher during the
week. That is still the case, Saturdays and Sundays see only around 60% of
weekday visitors. Despite that, over time the policy has been relaxed and news
has gone out pretty much as it comes in with no regard for the calendar. Today
things will revert to the old way, nothing too serious.
In my nearest shopping street, Wilton Road, the two Councils put up some modest but attractive Christmas lights. They are still there. Well maybe not quite.
One of the lights on the Greenwich side has mysteriously disappeared. Greenwich’s street lamps are on short posts which look much more attractive in a ‘village’ environment than the monsters Bexley thought were appropriate but the downside is that one bloke given a bunk up can easily reach them.
In the same road the sapling that was wrecked by dog owners who tied their animals to the tree and let them go round and around it abrading all the bark has been replaced; this time with a protective guard.
Well done to Greenwich Council for fulfilling their promise to replace it.
And for something completely different, what sort of madness is this? Who in their right mind parks their moped across the entrance to Abbey Wood station, half blocking it? Presumably they care nothing for other people and nothing for their own property.
This story is not new but Darryl Chamberlain (the 853 blog) did well to get it covered in Private Eye.
Their comment is self explanatory, the Royal Borough of Greenwich is paying good money to ensure its propaganda message goes out unsullied by the truth and anything else they might not have sanctioned.
From further afield, Wandsworth, comes news that Councillors there are just as touchy about news reporting as they are in Bexley.
The following text came via a circuitous route yesterday, this is just the first paragraph but it tells you the basics.
I don’t know what Mr. CouncilWatch is supposed to have done but on the face of it it looks like his local coppers are short of things to do.
Today [Friday 12th January 2018] Mr. CouncilWatch received a ’phone call from Wandsworth Police (the “farce” that has given up investigating burglaries, car crime, vandalism and patrolling the streets - because of Tory cuts) informing him that he must attend an interview at the police station (is there one?) following complaints from a person or persons unnamed within the council that he has been “harassing” councillors and committing “racism” in his emails.
Mr. CouncilWatch was told that if he did not attend voluntarily he would be arrested.
I have not been able to track down a Wandsworth based Mr. CouncilWatch’s blog or whatever, if anyone can do better then please post the details somewhere.
Next week traffic in Harrow Manorway will be occasionally disrupted as Bexley
Council presses on with their plan to create some sort of boulevard approach to
Abbey Wood’s new Crossrail station.
The artist’s impressions make it all look quite good.
Yesterday’s Press Release provides details on next week’s works, 31 trees are due to come down to be replaced in due course with 100 new ones.
Here’s some photos of the most prominent of the trees that appear to be for the chop.
The overall plan is to provide a nice wide road for the future, space has even been left to cater from a tramway should such a plan come to fruition.
However don’t hold your breath, Bexley Council’s priority is narrow roads and you can see signs of things to come at both extremities of Harrow Manorway. (Photo 4.)
Some older photos of activities at the northern end of Harrow Manorway may be seen here. I don’t get down there as often as perhaps I should.
The early indications are that the Harrow Manorway improvements will kill off the businesses in Wilton Road. When the Manorway is all modern and new with shops, that is where people will go.
I was relieved to see Mick Barnbrook’s mobile number pop up on the Caller
Display at 09:09 this morning. The blog title is his idea so you might guess he
is feeling reasonably well, in fact he says 100%.
He suffered a brief blackout just after midnight on Thursday morning and fell and gashed his head. He was taken to Ramsgate Hospital and subsequently moved to Ashford where he remains.
Enzyme tests reveal the effects of a mild heart attack but there is no suspicion that there might be another so it will be a diet of pills for the rest of his life and a hospital discharge in the very near future.
I passed on the various good wishes and I think he realises he had better slow down a bit.
I’m sure Mick Barnbrook would want to join me in thanking everyone for their good wishes and concern for him after he suffered
a suspected heart attack in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The messages not only came from BiB readers who have valued his input in the past but also Labour Councillors and 100% of UKIP. Absolutely nothing from any Conservative, they truly are the nasty party.
Unfortunately I know no more about his condition than I did yesterday; text messages and phone calls have gone unanswered and mutual friends have similarly drawn a blank.
I hope he is not stuck in a flu ridden corridor somewhere.
There has been little time for blogging today, it has been a day for telephone calls and email.
One of the telephone calls came from Kent Police in response to the complaint I wrote when first emerging from the flu bug.
In nearly half an hour the Inspector made it clear that the intention was to put me before a Magistrate for criminal harassment of Councillor Maxine Fothergill who, as publication of her emails will have shown, was only interested in total suppression of the news of her High Court appearance.
How a Court appearance will help her suppress the news I am not quite sure. Maybe her real motivation is revenge.
The Inspector, whilst making it clear that prosecution was Sergeant Cook’s decision and nothing much can stop it now, most certainly listened carefully to the full story and offered some useful suggestions.
He dropped into that conversation the fact that Kent Police had seen the support for my position and a letter from my MP. However none of that cuts any ice with them.
Behind the scenes press support continues with an assurance that they recognise the grave attack on news reporting and their intention is to publish in due course.
And the Crime Commissioner for Kent has been in touch again.
A bit of me wants to go to Court to expose the silliness of it all, but on balance I would rather not.
A Labour Councillor has resigned. Esther Amaning’s picture (Lesnes Abbey) no
longer appears on the Council website.
Enquiries have been made but I think it would be best to await official responses before reporting further.
Five minutes later: Bexley Council announcement. (Complete with misspelt ward name. Lesney). Press Release.
Mick Barnbrook sent me an email at twelve minutes past midnight this morning. He was
working on a complaint about a Councillor who made a planning application
accompanied by a declaration that she was not a Councillor or Council employee.
By so doing an application could be sneaked through without it having to go
before the Planning Committee which would ensure that everything was fair and above
board. That is Bexley Council’s rule and it makes sense that such applications
are discussed in public so that any suggestion of impropriety is minimised.
A year after getting away with the subterfuge the same Councillor pulled the same trick again. Once might be a mistake but twice suggests otherwise. Mick doesn’t like dishonesty.
However shortly after sending me that email Mick collapsed and was taken to A&E - unconscious I think.
He has since recovered to some extent but the initial diagnosis is of a minor heart attack. Maybe he should adopt my approach to pursuing Councillors. No computering after 7 p.m. unless strictly necessary. In bed by ten and no more than one pint of beer every couple of months.
Meanwhile Councillor Maxine Fothergill can breathe a temporary sigh of relief.
Most people will I hope, probably not all I suppose, join me in wishing Mick a speedy recovery.
Fibre broadband has come to Welling and nobody will begrudge Councillor Munur’s elation at his 74 Megabit connection.
The six he had over copper was probably insufficient for a young chap who might
be more into streaming video than I am.
However it is a bit rich for him to thank Teresa O’Neill for continuing to push for superfast broadband when without her he may have had a faster connection long ago.
It is true that Bexley Council is now pushing hard for an excellent borough wide digital infrastructure but as with their policy on river crossings they have only very recently seen the light.
In the recent past Bexley Council has quite deliberately thrown spanners into BT’s works. As a result 25,000 Bexley homes had no access to fibre broadband as recently as three months ago.
Earlier still they had been allowing individual Nimbys to veto BT’s ambitions contrary to planning requirements. This website has been covering Bexley Council's feet dragging over fibre broadband on an off for more than two years but they simply weren't interested. Then, six weeks ago BT went public with this comment
We have been in dispute with Bexley Council concerning permits to undertake streetworks and this was preventing us undertaking any work in the borough to deploy fibre broadband. I’m pleased to say that the dispute has now been resolved and we have resumed delivery work.
Given free rein at last, BT produced the goods in double quick time. However don’t let Bexley Council fool you into thinking that Welling broadband speeds have been dramatically improved due to their efforts, the reverse is closer to the truth.
didn’t take long for someone to swing into action and tackle
the sewage leak at
the end of Gladeswood Road. These pictures came from a relieved neighbour early this afternoon.
You can never be sure if such prompt action is coincidence or not but whatever they are there have been an awful lot of them over the years.
One that definitely wasn’t coincidence was when a pothole opposite Kingswood Avenue (half way between Belvedere Asda and Lesnes Abbey) was pictured here last February.
I know it wasn’t coincidence because the man who fixed it the next day emailed me to thank me for the notification.
Whilst I was driving down to see the sewage leak yesterday I noticed that pothole was back bigger and better than ever.
It is very welcome to have reports with accompanying photos. Without them it is sometimes near impossible to construct a useful story.
If you think that you were going to go a whole 24 hours without an update on the proposed harassment charge then you might be disappointed.
Just a brief update.
I did get the promised call from the newspaper reporter. He was impressively well informed on Kent Police’s recent actions and what led up to them and did not have to ask too many questions.
However he has his rules to follow and he said he would have to get busy cross checking everything with everyone involved and no doubt getting their in-house lawyer to look over everything.
I have learned not to be too optimistic about a Bonkers’ story hitting the press. It would not be unprecedented but it would be very rare.
Meanwhile there has been support by local bloggers. Hugh Neal of The Maggot Sandwich did his bit on Sunday, Darryl Chamberlain who writes the 853 blog did some sterling work behind the scenes and late yesterday The Thamesmead Grump chipped in with his own comment.
Normally The Grump takes a light-hearted, some might say jaundiced, view of modern life but this time he put on his serious hat.
He relates the harassment story you probably know all too well by now in his own unique style.
He takes a big risk too. (†) He has republished the blog attributed to Councillor Peter Craske - oh let’s not beat about the bush, the police traced it to his internet connection and then found it and a similar one on his laptop.
Nevertheless The Grump could be in trouble. When I published the obscene blog on Bonkers, Bexley Chief Executive Will Tuckley reported me to the police and recommended prosecution. It has since been hidden behind a password.
It’s a pity he was not so quick to go to the police when he was caught up in a £2 million pound bribe scandal not long ago. He hung around for six months before being forced to take action.
† My tongue is slightly in cheek here. Even Plod would not be silly to rake all that up again. Would they?
Bexley must be the undisputed road closure capital of South East London. While
Bexley Village is disrupted all week, a mile away more
traffic problems are being created in Gravel Hill. From tomorrow the Watling Street traffic
lights will be replaced by a temporary roundabout. With the usual disdain for
pedestrians anyone wishing to cross Gravel Hill on foot will be made to cross
Watling Street, Erith Road and Broadway instead.
Pedestrian safety is not a priority on Harrow Manorway either. Pedestrians using the crossing to access the railway station are denied a clear view of the road. They may be protected by the lights but anyone who steps out there without looking is a fool. Red lights and Abbey Wood drivers is not a safe combination.
Photo taken this afternoon.
Right, let’s see if we can get this show back on the road. Not much of blog
but I have been letting things slip.
The Big Stink
An anonymous message said that across the road from Belvedere’s Asda raw sewage had been flowing across the road for more than a week and not for the first time.
It was alleged that Bexley Council had washed their hands of it - if you will excuse the unpleasant metaphor.
Thames Water’s response was similar when my correspondent called them last Saturday.
I rose from my sick bed - metaphorically again, but I have not been getting out much - and took a look; and a good sniff.
At first sight it looks like a water leak but closer examination showed there was a lot of sediment in the flow, not obvious sewage but not plain water, that is for sure. A deep breath confirmed the anonymous report.
This is a well used footpath, it is near a school and it is common to see children walk it on their way to the 401 bus stop. One trip and they would be in the shit literally.
Surely Bexley Council must recognise it for the public health hazard it is, but apparently not.
I had two encounters with Social Services yesterday. One was Bexley related and in the controversial child snatching arena. I don’t get as many reports of child snatching as used to be the case. Either people have realised that it is pretty much impossible to report them here or Cabinet Member Philip Read’s academy initiative is bearing fruit. If so perhaps he could sell his services to Newham.
There was a gratifying number of enquiries about the welfare of my 97 year old aunt over the past few weeks. She has been mentally damaged by her GP’s wrong prescription (confirmed by hospital discharge letter) for almost three years and it is not certain she will fully recover. She used to be forgetful, now she comes out with nonsense most days, but not as much as a month ago.
The hospital wanted to discharge her before Christmas, I can understand the reason why, but with Newham Council’s so called help they thought the old lady would be able to sit all day in her own home with a care worker dropping in occasionally.
That was a total nonsense, she couldn’t do anything for herself at the time. She didn’t know what a chair lift was let alone operate one. With a gas cooker and radiant electric fire she might even burn the house down.
My last encounter with Newham Social Services was three years ago when I made a complaint copied to my aunt’s MP (Stephen Timms) who in turn thought it was so serious he passed it on to Newham’s elected Mayor. The reply was to the effect that all the problems were of my own making and Newham’s branch of the SS was perfect. I had never asked them for anything in 30 years of ensuring my aunt wanted for nothing and the complaint was that the SS was refusing instructions to stop providing their useless and unnecessary services. Those instructions were backed by my aunt’s GP (not the useless one that replaced her) and I took exception to Newham’s idiotic response to the complaint.
I didn’t have the time to argue but when they wanted to muscle in on the situation again before Christmas I told them they would get no cooperation from me until they apologised for their three year old letter. “Would it be OK if I just said sorry?” said the hapless Social worker. “No”, I told her, “your untruthful criticism must be removed from the official record”.
To get my aunt into safe hands I organised a taxi and escort from Newham hospital and she was taken to stay with my sister in Hampshire where she is now well fed and is beginning a slow recovery.
Yesterday the Senior SS woman phoned me to ask where my aunt was. I said she is in Hampshire. “What is a hampshire?” came the reply. “It is a county and my sister lives in it.”
“Oh, can you spell it for me?” “H A M P S H I R E”, I said. I wish I had said Hants just to confuse the idiot further.
“Where is it” wonder woman asked. “A long way from here” I replied and with that Newham’s finest went away apparently satisfied.
I am prejudiced obviously but I rather suspect that that is typical of the intelligence of the average social worker.
Note: When I first lived in Hampshire in 1949 the road signs were emblazoned with the subtext, County of Southamptonshire. I wish I had taken some photos because no one believes me now.
The Cabinet reshuffle
Going more than usually off topic the recent non-event of a Government reshuffle captured my attention yesterday. I don’t know why but I found the news of James Brokenshire’s lung lesion to be quite upsetting. I was introduced to him once and found him pleasant enough but there is no way he is likely to remember the meeting.
He might remember Elwyn Bryant better as he refused him any help with the Craske obscene blog business. He said accompanying him to meetings with the police would be “inappropriate”. Fortunately Teresa Pearce MP is far more of an asset to constituents who find themselves in difficulty. She came with me to four police meetings at which Elwyn was present too.
I am sure everyone will join me in wishing James Brokenshire a quick and full recovery.
The second ‘reshuffle’ that grabbed my attention was James Cleverly’s Deputy Party Chairman appointment. James used to be Bexley’s man at the GLA and I rather like what he has had to say since becoming MP for Braintree.
I was introduced to him once as well and not so impressed as I am now. He said my blog was “well out of order”.
At the time Bexley’s incompetents in blue were circulating Press Releases which confused me with John Kerlen who ran an entirely different sort of blog. They went as far as notifying local politicians and the press with the news that I was to be prosecuted for using the C word on Twitter three years before I joined Twitter, so I give James Cleverly the benefit of the doubt and wish him success in his new job. The more of the Tory old guard that is thrown out the better. What an absolutely shambolic shower.
P.S. News of David Evennett’s removal from the Whip’s Office came too late for the original blog but I was introduced to him once too. He came across as a really nice man. One can well understand that someone with such a pleasant personality would not be wanted in Teresa May’s Whip’s Office - or the other lot’s.
The bloody flu
I can’t believe how this bug can be still hanging around more then three weeks after it first struck. Yesterday I was so exhausted by it I slept for 13 hours and feel a bit better for it today.
Once again, thank you for the kind messages. I have been told of four people who suffered similarly and were taken in to hospital with pneumonia - all now released fortunately.
If you have elderly neighbours especially if they live alone, please keep an eye on them. Not everyone will get an email from their MP, as I did, offering to do their shopping but they may need similar help.
In my opinion there are too many obnoxious females in politics but Teresa is most definitely not one of them. Paul is a fortunate man.
Apologies for pushing another of these ‘defence stories’ on you so soon after
the last one but there are reasons. One of them is that I am due to be
interviewed by a newspaper reporter later today and I want to be able to refer
him to as much relevant data as possible.
Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s state of mind was giving me cause for concern; her phone calls were not pleasant to hear and I found myself using the phrase “in a state of denial” because of her emails protesting her innocence of libel. Why on earth was she wanting to extend my news reporting by introducing new documents which she had either not shown the Court or which had failed to convince them?
Such was my concern that I sought out Councillor June Slaughter at a Council meeting; I forget which one but it was just after I had drawn the libel news reports to an end.
Councillor Slaughter had been Councillor Fothergill’s friend and adviser at the Code of Conduct hearing two years earlier and I told June that Councillor Fothergill was in dire need of a good friend. Was she being supported I asked because I feared she might do something silly. In my opinion her state of mind did not entirely rule out some sort of self harm and I asked Councillor Slaughter to look out for her.
Mrs. Slaughter told me that Councillor Fothergill had not told her anything about a libel case and she had not read the blog for a few days so was unaware of the situation. She said she would look into it and presumably step in to help if she could.
I think I may not be very good at this harassment lark.
I had a similar discussion with one of Councillor Fothergill’s business associates but found that his compassion pot had run completely dry. After seeing three associates arrested by Kent Police on false evidence he showed no sign of any sympathy whatever.
The last email I had received from Councillor Fothergill was in the early hours of 19th November when she was offering me more documents for publication so that her innocence could be established. They weren’t going to overturn the Court decision so what was the point? I had already decided that the story which had begun with the first documentary evidence on 16th November had run its course and wrote to Councillor Fothergill to tell her so.
12:38 19th November 2017
I made up my mind yesterday that I am not going any further with this one, at least for now.
I have up until now only used documents which are, in the widest sense perhaps, already in the public domain.
Letters that you sent to several people and documents that would be known of or available to anyone who attended the Court hearings.
I don’t believe I have strayed into suggesting dishonesty much beyond the libel where by definition you failed to convince a Court – and separately the police – that what you had said was accurate.
I have re-read what has been said on BiB and would ask you to do the same and I do not believe it goes beyond saying that you were accused of libel, you lost, and here’s the proof.
Other documents are available to me which you probably would not want to be made public and they would require some explanation if they were. My inclination at the moment is not to go there.
As you rightly pointed out on the phone I have a historic grudge against Teresa O’Neill and some of her closest friends for what they have attempted to do to me (have me arrested) but not you or your business interests.
T O’N always seems to escape from personal responsibilities because she has others available to do her dirty work and I would agree that that is sometimes unfair to individuals. Undermining the Council more generally is usually the only course available to me.
As my political inclinations are basically the same as hers T O’N has been stupid to encourage the present situation but that is a whole new subject.
The documents produced in Court represent Phase I on BiB and Phase II can be put on hold unless the newspapers go further than I have. The bundle sent to me has gone to several newspapers and if the story breaks there BiB may be the least of your troubles.
You said you have a document which proves that Hayley was guilty of fraud as you have asserted from the outset. You surely must have argued that case to the police and the Court and they have rejected it. If I see it and find fault in it will that not just make your situation worse?
I have come to the conclusion that it would be in your interests for us not to meet.
You wish to convince me of your innocence when you failed with the police and the Court and at this point in time BiB has not made a judgment on that one way or another, all it has done is report the findings of the Court.
If I was to protest your innocence contrary to the findings of the police and Court (as I did with the Code of Conduct business) I would consider it essential to use the documents that I have so far chosen not to for balance.
At the present time there is no need for balance because all that has been done is to refer to documents.
Do you really want to take that path when screenshots of some of your mobile phone comments which I have would do your case no good at all?
I really do think it is time to pause if not stop reporting. One of your emails to me was probably in itself libellous bearing in mind the Court ruling.
Best probably to draw a line don’t you think?
If you really want to meet someone maybe you could meet with John Watson again. We are not in close contact – I do not even have his phone number – but he may lend you a friendly ear.
Thank you for the attachment, it was included in the bundle sent to me and I excluded all but Page 1 because, well I am not sure, maybe its importance didn’t register with me in the way it should.
I will make the obvious correction.
So as you will see I argued that it was in everyone’s best interests if the news reports ceased. Extending them to cover a fight back by Councillor Fothergill would get far too messy and still not overturn the libel damages. There was simply no point. I had factually recorded the news and where Councillor Fothergill felt the report was inadequate I modified it for her.
My harassment skills are obviously severely limited. I wanted to drop the subject, Councillor Fothergill wanted to extend it. She was back the same evening with another email
21:31 19th November 2017
Thank you for your email but I’m afraid putting up these blogs without hearing and seeing the true facts has already had a massive impact to my business which I have only just found out about via an email received by one of my staff today where it very much sounds as if your blogs are likely to end up losing us a contact. (Just Google my name.)
I have read what you have put up on your site today and this does not help me as you have still left all the adverse and historical information on your site for all the world to see.
I stated previously I am happy to meet you to give the full facts and show you my proof and evidence to back up my claims, yes I did put out 2 letters without checking as I had to inform my clients we had discovered potential fraud as I had a mortal duty to do this and contrary to your believe, It is a proven fact fraud was found to have been committed and the only reason the police did not prosecute was due to the cost to the public purse which was likely to be over £100k
Re your comments on 17th November where you published the following blog:-
“When the police officer who arrested Hayley Warnes and kept her in suspense for eleven months heard that she had won her claim for damages against her former employer Councillor Maxine Fothergill he sent a brief email congratulating both her and surveyor Ray Robson on “a pretty good result” and said that except that it was frowned upon by Kent Police he would have “used a smiley face”.
Do you seriously believe a police officer would email your informants to say well done, good result! This shows the integrity of your informants!
My offer still stands to meet you on Tuesday and I’m sure if asked John Watson would happily join us. Johns phone number is 07973 xxxxxx.
Anyway regardless of your choice to meet up or not, I am now asking you nicely to please remove all blogs you have written about me since 2015 due to the damage you are causing me personally as well as to my business and my staff.
It may be a bit of a sport to you but it’s has had a long term detrimental effect on my life, my health, my family’s life, my business which I have run for over 15 years without any problems previously and on my staff (I had to make 5 staff redundant last year due to losing business from adverse publicity you published and now it seems history is likely to be repeating itself imminently), and don’t forgot what you put on your blog is out there on the WWW forever unless removed but still serves to cause troubles all the time it remains live as this information can be printed and kept! And please remember with the rise of social media, winning business is no longer about form filling as most companies look at who are they intending to do business with via the interview and google searches before interviews are even made!
I await your urgent reply
As you will see Councillor Fothergill was still arguing that a meeting would convince me that Hayley Warnes had indeed committed fraud. I was not prepared to extend the blogs by opening that can of worms. Reporting the libel damages and providing the necessary support documents was quite complicated enough for me but contrary to her current harassment allegation, Councillor Fothergill appeared to be goading me into publishing more. Her preferred solution of censoring the news totally was simply not acceptable.
You will also have noted that I stood accused of publishing a lie about a Kent Police officer. I replied as follows
11:09 20th November 2017
I am disappointed that you think I would publish something that I am not absolutely sure of.
The comment from the police officer is an extract from his email timed at 08:26 on 16th November 2017.
I was in Ray Robson’s office shortly after it arrived on a visit I requested because I wanted to see for myself the documents to which he had been referring. Ray allowed me to see and take copies of everything that I felt to be relevant at that time. Reading the documents provoked further questions and Ray has since sent me more documents in response to those questions.
I do not expect to use them but it was essential that I fully understand what took place and be confident of being accurate. It has not been necessary to take sides, the Court documents revealed so far speak for themselves.
I shall avoid any grey areas that arise due to my lack of understanding of the property business. As I said, I currently do not see any need to go much further at all.
The police email was fresh on Ray’s computer and he showed it to me. I insisted on taking a printed copy.
I have always been cautious about accepting any assurance until I see it in black and white. Phil Pead as he signed himself (no rank prefix) appears to be on good terms with Ray.
You have clearly alleged that Ray told me porkies about the police email and it reflects badly on his integrity – and by inference mine for being suckered by him.
I think Ray may have been surprised by the email but it most certainly exists and if anyone’s integrity is being questioned it isn’t Ray Robson’s.
Councillor Fothergill sent me two more emails but I had decided that no more libel news should be published. I did not open either of the two emails as I was concerned that my patience might snap and be tempted into reopening the subject. Those two emails remain unopened to this day.
Meanwhile Ray Robson continues to send me right up to the early hours of this morning more and more documents that back his case. They are interesting but I am not going to publish them either.
You may not have noticed that at no time did I publish any photograph of Councillor Fothergill. BiB is usually well illustrated but in this case I made the decision to report the news and keep the subject as anonymous as possible in the circumstances.
How can it be harassment when it was always me who was looking to keep things strictly to the point and Councillor Fothergill who was encouraging extension into new areas?
Do her many attempts to persuade me that I should rewrite history in her favour and then the solicitor's letter and the criminal allegation constitute harassment by Councillor Maxine Fothergill?
While I was supposedly harassing Councillor Maxine Fothergill by reporting
her unfortunate experience in the High Court we were keeping up a daily
correspondence by both telephone and email.
My line was that I was simply reporting news, nothing more, nothing less, and her line was that if I did not wipe everything from the web her business would suffer. She also thought that she should be of no interest to BiB because what she had done was not done as a Councillor.
However Bexley Council has long maintained that a Councillor is a Councillor 24/7 and would it be reasonable to remain mute if a Councillor was found guilty of beating his wife? Or if Alex Sawyer was caught in his own yellow parking trap?
Councillor Fothergill sent this email…
21:37 13th November 2017
It is for the reason Ie it is already in the public domain that I please ask if you will remove this for me. As you are aware It has nothing to do with my position as a ward councillor and the only person it is truly hurting is me!
I am not particularly well as the stress this has cause me again is not good.
I look forward to receiving the attachments from you as soon as you receive them (hopefully before tomorrow morning)
(Tomorrow morning was the date of the Court hearing.)
Councillor Fothergill then followed up with another phone call to ask me to meet her in the Hilton Hotel by the Dartford Crossing at 7 p.m. in two days time and bring Ray Robson’s emails with me. I still had not received them but I felt pressurised into meeting as suggested.
When I eventually received Ray’s Press Pack it included a lot of Court documents and emails to and from Councillor Fothergill’s business associates. I decided I had no right to do anything with Ray Robson’s file that he had not authorised. When Councillor Fothergill next phoned I told her I could not meet her.
She sent another email
00:20 19th November 2017
Bob has told me to send this to you asap. You published one page which I guess is all you were provided with but as you will see there is much more to this as per the attached. (Please do not publish it)
You are being provided with ½ a story which is not surprising considering where you are obtaining your information from!
I am very much looking forward to seeing you with my files as I have so much solid facts and proven evidence to disprove the majority of what you have published to date.
My main concern however is not about me but my staff, what you are doing without having the full facts is causing my business so much trouble and in turn potentially putting 12 members out staff out of a job! Is this what you are hoping to achieve?
Anyway as mentioned you have heard only one side of the story and I am happy to answer your questions and show you all the facts and evidence on Tuesday as discussed which will give you the truth behind the lies you have been fed with to date.
I did not publish the supplied attachment, I already had Ray Robson’s copy which was more extensive and came with a full explanation.
Hers purported to show that a claim made against her by four business associates in May 2015 had been dismissed in the High Court of Justice Queen’s Bench Division by The Honourable Mr. Justice Dingemans. Ray’s document suggested to me that it had been dismissed only because the hearing had gone to the wrong Court. I decided that it was a legal complication best avoided but rightly or wrongly I did form the impression that Councillor Fothergill’s document in referring only to the dismissal may have been calculated to lead me astray.
I was also totally perplexed as to how Councillor Fothergill would be able to demonstrate to me that she was the innocent party when her legal team had failed to convince a Judge. Once again I decided that the only sensible thing to do was report the known facts and no more. Putting on a wig and trying to out-judge a Judge would be futile and unnecessarily lead to more and more blogs when I had already decided to write no more.
If I had been lied to as Councillor Fothergill was claiming it didn’t really matter, the agreement reached in Court was clear enough and that is all that was being reported.
I wrote what I thought was a conciliatory response twelve hours later which will appear here before too long but no one spends more than two or three minutes reading blogs so this one must end here. The same reason the libel case could not be reported in just one day. According to Kent Police the fact that I broke the news into more than one segment is why it is harassment. That’s an end to newspapers serialising stories then.
Twice I asked Kent Police how big they thought the news reports were and twice two hands were stacked about nine inches apart. It can only be because Councillor Fothergill has raked up the old Code of Conduct reports. When we met in September 2016 she was happy enough with my explanatory prefix but now it might add to her case against me, for good measure she has thrown in stuff she had previously agreed was OK.
As someone who takes
an interest in the local railway scene but falls far short of being a train
nerd I found the video about the new London Bridge station that Hugh Neal
posted on his Maggot Sandwich blog
today fascinating. (Foot of his page.) I watched it for the whole 13 minutes.
When the flu bug, which has made a bit of a resurgence over the past 48 hours, finally goes away I shall go to look at London Bridge station for myself.
I am also most grateful to Hugh for highlighting the dangers to all bloggers - in reality every news outlet - represented by Kent Police’s decision to refer the report on Maxine Fothergill’s libel to the Crown Prosecution Service. As he points out it represents a grave threat to freedom of speech and in my opinion to journalism as we have known it.
Over the next day or two I will publish emails which show that whilst I was keen to close down the subject, Councillor Fothergill would accept nothing less than wiping every trace of the story from the web. A lot of people would welcome restraints on press freedom like that, most of them bad ones I would think.
More news outlets should be as alert to that danger as Hugh appears to be. Sadly that has not happened so far.
I couldn’t possibly claim to have daily contact with Councillors and MPs but
it is very far from being unknown. Yesterday there were two - one of each - but
they are generally not reported. Firstly they are not news and even if they were,
tittle-tattling the contents here would probably ensure I didn’t get any more.
However I am going to make an exception for Councillor Fothergill. Now that the Kent Police has decided to send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service for reporting her lost libel case I no longer consider that I owe her any favours.
Yesterday I quoted from an email I sent to her three days after the first libel document was posted on Bonkers to assure her that no more was planned. She found that to be unsatisfactory, nothing less than complete withdrawal would do.
I stuck to my original plan to do no more but resisted retrospective censoring of news; that I believe is why Councillor Fothergill has retaliated. As you will see if you read on, nothing short of complete censorship will make her happy.
By revealing the Fothergill emails you - and the CPS? - may be able to judge who was harassing who.
Going back two years Councillor Fothergill pestered me into a meeting to allow her to explain how she was the innocent victim of Bexley’s Code of Conduct Committee. She succeeded and BiB has reflected her innocence ever since.
I did not want to be drawn into such a dispute again, the only subject of current interest was the agreement made in the High Court following the lost libel case and the accurate reporting thereof. A rerun of the police’s investigation into Hayley Warne and the High Court libel case is well outside my level of competence. The Judge had done that.
The first official confirmation that Councillor Fothergill - or her legal representative - was due in Court was the listing which the Court published on line. It was reproduced here on the same day, 13th November 2017.
Within hours of it being placed on BiB Councillor Fothergill was on to me by phone to tell me that she had again been a victim of an injustice. She followed up with this email
21:05 November 2017
Re our conversation, as you are aware the business with me formally employing Hayley Warnes and fraud we are aware she committed which the police in the end would not prosecute due to her being a pregnant single mother, has caused me nothing but pain with my health, recent diverticulitis due to stress and the loss of massive amounts of business.
As I discussed with you, the litigation case settlement was a commercial decision made by my PI insurers after 2 barristers reporting to my insurers that if the case went to full trial the cost would be in excess of £1.5m and for this reason it is very rare for litigation cases to ever go to full trial these days.
As you are aware the information passed to you has nothing to do with my position as a ward councillor. I therefore please ask if you can kindly remove your recent tweets and blog about me as I really can’t stand the stress anymore and am at my wits end of this.
Thank you in advance for you agreeing to send me the information you received from Hayley Warnes and Ray Robson on Saturday, as mentioned this information is very important as my solicitor and PI insurers need to be aware ASAP.
I look forward to hearing from you.
As explained elsewhere I did not have an email from Ray Robson because it was part of an attachment which failed to transmit. It took a further three days to reach me.
I asked Mr. Robson for comment on Councillor Fothergill’s email which said that Hayley Warnes had committed fraud and the police dropped the charges against her, not because she was innocent, but because she was pregnant.
Ray showed the email to his barrister before the next day’s Court hearing and unsurprisingly Mark Lewis said that Councillor Fothergill was repeating the original libel. A libel that Fothergill had admitted in Court.
I was not unsympathetic to towards Councillor Fothergill as is implied by the use of first names and that we know each others home phone numbers and because of that sympathetic view there was no intention to overdo the Court reporting although the complexity of it might require it to be stretched over several days - three as it turned out.
I replied as follows.
21:25 13th November 2017
My further examination of the emails received from Ray Robson at the weekend suggest that they are corrupted in some way and must be incomplete.
I called Ray to voice my concerns or more accurately puzzlement.
He explained to me that he sent them from India and what I have is not what he intended me to have. Far from complete apparently. He is going to resend his emails now that he is back in the UK.
The Court listing is in the public domain and I do not see what advantage there is to removing it from one website when it is visible on another. As I understand it the press both local and national are aware of the listing. The Bexley interest will come from there being so many of your tenants within the borough.
There were three more emails over following days culminating in one in which Councillor Fothergill said she was not happy with my decision to not post any more information about her libel case, nothing short of total withdrawal of the news reports would be good enough.
I have read what you have put up on your site today and this does not help me as you have still left all the adverse and historical information on your site for all the world to see.
You cannot censor the news because a Councillor has been friendly in the past or because you have grown to like them. I once reported that I thought something Councillor Danny Hackett said in the Council chamber was among the silliest things I had ever heard there. It was a difficult decision to take but this is not a Labour Party blog and if/when they ever gain power in Bexley I suspect they will come in for regular criticism.
Danny still talks to me. He knows the meaning of democracy and supports electors who may not see eye to eye with him politically.
My rubbish bin was emptied this morning. I managed to go through the whole
Christmas fortnight and only accumulate enough rubbish to fill a tiny carrier
bag that I had been given with the purchase of a box of Christmas cards, so not
even a full size supermarket one.
Obviously I did not get as many presents as the fly tipper who dumped this lot yesterday.
Journalists like to be spoon fed, they don’t have the time to wade through
reams of paper so this is a summary of the key points that led to Kent Police’s
perverse decision to refer Councillor Maxine Fothergill’s harassment complaint
to the Crown Prosecution Service. If you see the opportunity to direct
influential people to it please link to
• I first became aware that Councillor Fothergill had agreed to pay libel damages to Hayley Warnes and Ray Robson on 21st October 2017. There was no documentary evidence so nothing could be reported on Bexley-is-Bonkers.
• The first hard evidence of a Court appearance came on 13th November when the case was listed in the Queen’s Bench Division.
Later that day Councillor Fothergill rang me on my home phone, one of the very few Councillors I had ever given the number. She asked that I meet up with her with a copy of an email she believed Mr. Robson had sent me. At 21:05 the same evening she emailed to ask that I delete that day’s blog which referred to the hearing due next day.
20 minutes later I replied that Mr. Robson’s email had been sent from Dehli and was totally corrupt on arrival. I also told her that since the Court listing was publicly available elsewhere there did not seem to be much point in removing it from Bonkers.
At 21:37 Councillor Fothergill emailed again requesting removal of the Court listing. There were no more emails until 19th November, six days later.
• Following the Court hearing on 14th November neither of the two litigants provided any information. Nothing was forthcoming apart from a comment by a third party who was in Court. BiB put out a holding blog to that effect.
• The 15th November also failed to bring forth any hard information. Without documentation to prove the case BiB will not publish anything. Instead it could only put out another apologetic holding message. It debated the pros and cons of publishing the news, the balance that must be struck between “troubling” Councillor Fothergill and “not making her situation worse and [at the same time] providing solid facts”.
• By late afternoon of 16th November the long awaited litigants’ Press Pack arrived; it was huge though for reasons unknown failed to include a copy of the principal libel. A blog was nevertheless prepared.
It began by saying that on balance BiB considered censoring the news was not acceptable but it was essential everything must be backed by documentary evidence. A letter from Councillor Fothergill alleging that “Hayley Warnes and Ray Robson had conspired to damage our [Councillor Fothergill’s] business” was published. It was an important part of the libel claim although perhaps not the biggest one.
• One of the most disturbing things about this case was that Kent Police were so very enthusiastic about prosecuting Hayley Warnes on the false evidence provided by Councillor Fothergill. When Ray Robson tried to warn Kent Police that they were making a big mistake and provided evidence to that effect they warned Ray that he might be charged with Perverting the Course of Justice. The blog dated 17th November was devoted to criticising Kent Police who it should be said eventually came to their senses. There was no criticism of Councillor Fothergill in that blog.
• On 18th November 2017 BiB provided details of the likely Court costs as estimated by the barrister Mark Lewis.
• On 19th November 2017 I emailed Councillor Fothergill to tell her that I had concluded the previous day that I regarded the story as complete and it was time to move on.
I stated that I did not believe I had ever suggested she was dishonest, apart from the libel itself which she had agreed in Court was untruthful. “I really do think it is time to pause if not stop reporting. One of your emails to me was probably in itself libellous bearing in mind the Court ruling. Best probably to draw a line don’t you think?”
In a handful of days there had been three holding blogs which said almost nothing, one listing the estimated Court costs, another criticising Kent police and just two which addressed Councillor Fothergill’s libel directly - with supporting documentation where necessary.
Believe it or not I was sympathetic to Councillor Fothergill, she had probably been abused by the Tory leadership and Bonkers had supported her. I had respected her request that our meeting on 16th September 2016 be kept secret and the secondary request not to be seen with her in the Council offices.
All correspondence to and from Councillor Fothergill was very civilised.
Councillor Fothergill replied by email later the same day to again ask for all the blogs to be removed. She said if we met she would be able to tell me the truth of the matter.
She also suggested I had made something up. I provided the evidence that I had not.
I did not want to be further involved, the property business is complex and the only thing of interest was the accuracy of the Court reporting. Except that Councillor Fothergill’s Court agreed apology was distributed at the end of the month the Fothergill story was finished.
Councillor Fothergill wanted to extend the public discussion and defend herself with what she called the truth. I was determined that the news item was ended. Her ‘truth’ had not been accepted in Court. The case had been reported accurately and it was in no one’s interest to carry on.
• It was with considerable surprise that on 8th December I opened a letter from Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor which at first reading looked to be threatening. However more careful study showed that not to be the case. It merely asked for a link to UKIP Bexley’s website to be removed. In the solicitor’s opinion UKIP’s site was libellous, Bexley is Bonkers was not. The solicitor recognised that BiB had practiced simple news reporting, It would appear that Kent Police believes that to be criminal.
• Because Councillor Fothergill had reopened the subject of the dubious behaviour that had led to the libel claim Bexley is Bonkers posted another blog on 9th December, 10th December and 11th December. They were not entirely complimentary but nevertheless argued that contrary to UKIP’s assertions Councillor Fothergill had been foolish, not corrupt.
• On 12th December the subject was closed down for the second time despite a good deal of unflattering material remaining unpublished.
• Councillor Fothergill chose to go to the police. A month after rejecting BiB’s first offer to close the subject down.
• It is probable that Councillor Fothergill is attempting to include the reports of her guilty verdict by the Code of Conduct Committee in 2015. However each of the reports has long been prefixed by a notice that makes it clear that she was the unfortunate victim in that case.
The compromise arrangement instituted on BiB’s initiative in the late Summer of 2016 was formally agreed with Councillor Fothergill at a clandestine meeting - where I bought all the drinks! - on 16th September 2017.
With minor clarifications it (see below) has been there ever since without complaint. Suddenly it becomes harassment!
I spent a good deal of today sending out a letter to press contacts about the danger everyone is in
if it becomes a criminal offence to report news.
The open letter is now on the Home page.
Late this afternoon two police officers knocked on my door to say I will be charged with harassment of Councillor Fothergill for revealing the fact that she lost a libel case in the High Court and dribbled the information out over several days.
If you run a similar site to this one could I ask you to distribute the Home page message as far as possible as we are all in danger now.
There will probably not be a lot of dissent if it is suggested that the lack
of affordable housing is among the most serious issues facing the nation. Even
when a new development is said to include affordable housing -
and there are not
many of those in Bexley - the need to have a £100,000 income to buy in
London is a very bad joke.
On average just over a third of my untaxed income has gone on supporting family mortgages and associated housing costs for each of the past five years and all there is to show for it is a 1950s council house. That sort of input goes a very long way towards driving the wolf from the door and results in a decent standard of living, but in principle it is all wrong. My father never gave me a bean but I owned four bedrooms, three reception rooms and two bathrooms on a Civil Service income by the time I was 32 with less than 50% of it mortgaged.
It is all so very wrong and politicians who fail to recognise it will one day pay the price. One can argue that it is all the fault of unfettered immigration if you like but that is not a solution. What is needed is more planning flexibility and probably lots of other things; I am a long way from being an authority on planning matters.
Back in the Summer I noticed one of those Planning Notices taped to a lamp post not all that far from home. It proposed that a four bedroom detached house be slightly extended and then divided into a three and a two bedroom semi with off road parking.
It looked like a possible win-win situation. Someone makes a bit of money and two families are housed instead of one.
At a bit of a loose end earlier today I checked Bexley’s planning portal to see what had happened to the idea. It had been initially rejected, appealed and then rejected again.
Without knowing the details one can only assume that there were valid reasons for the rejection but it looks like a missed a opportunity to me. I wondered how may people had similar ideas.
I found a few but all but one had been rejected. I tried to find out why and started to read the applications. One turned out to be more interesting than the others, the applicant was a Councillor, the name was clearly stated at the top of the application.
Above the signature was this declaration
Ordinarily I would be letting you know which Bexley Councillor made this elementary mistake but because of the perverse interpretation of the harassment laws by Kent Police I will have to cast doubt on the competence of every single one of them instead.
Sorry about that!
If you got half way through yesterday’s blog before giving up you should have
seen a reference to Councillor John Davey’s Twitter activities (Conservative, Crayford for the time being). I considered providing some examples but they
almost defied description. Is he really totally clueless about how he comes
across to electors? Arrogant doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Unknown to me at the time fromthemurkydepths had done the honours complete with sample screen shots.
Everyone should take a look especially those who live in the old Lesnes Abbey (southernmost part) and Brampton wards who come May 3rd 2018 could find themselves saddled with such a lazy and uncaring Councillor.
Unfortunately West Heath residents could find themselves with two clowns. The Northumberland Numpty is looking for a new home too. Councillor Peter Reader, also standing in West Heath should not be tarred with the same brush; always perfectly civil in my experience.
Note: The Tweet displayed above is intended to illustrate the level to which Bexley Tories are prepared to sink in their pursuit of power. It first appeared on BiB on 11th December 2017.
It is not intended to suggest that Councillor John Davey has stooped to that level of debate only that some Bexley Tories are happy to do so.
A selection of Councillor Davey’s recent Tweets may be seen by taking the fromthemurkydepths link above or going directly to John Davey’s Twitter feed - if he hasn’t blocked you for being “a Labour Troll”.
Every three or four weeks I meet up with the Ramsgate Rebel Mick Barnbrook and today was the appointed day. I wasn’t especially looking forward to it, not because I have become bored by his tales of police corruption but because my flu bug has not shown any obvious sign of abating over the past 48 hours. No energy for anything and probably not thinking straight. Old blogs always look poor to me, goodness knows what this one will look like in a month’s time.
The news from Ramsgate wasn’t good, Mick has the flu too. Sweating, shaking and coughing just as I was two weeks ago.
Mick was particularly keen to give me some advice on the Maxine Fothergill affair. Formulate a case against her based on wasting police time was his suggestion.
I consider that the blogs about the libel damages awarded against her were restrained. Far from harassing the silly woman I had held back a lot of material. Mainly correspondence between property business professionals. One of them sent me more documents only yesterday, another phoned me. They are working on a plan to bring more serious charges than wasting police time. I will lend them as much support as I can.
The past 72 hours spent moaning about the bloody flu has brought forth quite a lot of sympathetic email for which many thanks.
I wonder sometimes if it is just me who is in despair about the state of this country; an incompetent Government, a Marxist waiting in the wings and corruption and injustice everywhere. How long before the situation explodes?
An email received yesterday summed up my own feelings pretty well.
I have no idea who if anyone I will vote for at the next general election, UKIP and Liberal Dems have all but faded away, and not to be rude but in my personal opinion I can’t vote for Labour with their current leader, but then Conservatives are just trying to explode themselves. Ha ha, and I thought the USA had a problem . I am very glad that I am the age I am because the thought of the future fills me with concerns.
The lady reveals that she is exactly the same age as I am. Another email received this morning carried a similar message.
The corruption in Bexley Council and the police which you have exposed is staggering. Having come across institutionalised corruption once before (once was enough for me) I can sympathise with any despair you may feel at the sinister power these institutions exert. The double whammy of the problems with the elderly relative from Newham and a dose of the flu would be enough to floor anyone. Your blog would be greatly missed and I hope you feel up to continuing the fight in 2018. Best wishes.
The 97 year old aunt is now with my sister in Hampshire. The hospital discharge letter makes it pretty clear that the rapid deterioration in her mental state was caused by her GP’s negligence and that will be another battle for the future, but meanwhile she is not doing too badly except that she is worried about who is looking after her mother (born 1892) while she is away from home.
Yes it is easy to despair about the institutionalised corruption and how totally useless individuals like Cressida Dick are in charge of law and order. I feel sure that the Prime Minister must know how unsuitable she is to hold the position of Commissioner but presumably doesn’t care.
In practice I doubt many people care which is why we have the sort of people running Bexley that we have. The insults coming from Councillor John Davey’s Twitter account this year are almost unbelievable. Is no one going to report him to the Code of Conduct Committee?
Someone who does care said this
You seem to have that fire back in your belly to talk about and expose all of the wrong doing shenanigans going on not only within the borough of Bexley but the wider hierarchy. More power to your elbow Malcolm.
What fire there is at the moment is probably just the remnants of a fever but I am coming around to the view that my New Year's Resolution should be revenge. It’s not too late to make another is it?
A slightly more formal email came from a resident of Northumberland Heath who has received a propaganda sheet from his local Conservative Association.
John Fuller and Ray Sams describe themselves as the New Conservative Action Team, God Help Us!! Not sure what Christmas cheer they are full of, but to my mind, they are full of excrement.
Actually that seems a bit harsh to me. When the Tories choose candidates for a local election they are careful not to label them as such in case a skeleton crawls out of their cupboard and they have to withdraw the candidacy. It would be embarrassing to withdraw a candidate but a Team Member can slip away almost unnoticed.
In 2014 Teresa O'Neill was pictured with her three preferred candidates for East Wickham ward. The one on the right is ‘Team Member’ Daniel Taylor who was withdrawn at the very last moment.
When I met Councillor Fothergill in September 2016 she was very keen to tell me that she had reported him to the police for three monetary thefts and thereby incurred the wrath of Teresa O’Neill. She directly linked her actions to being unfairly accused of a Code of Conduct offence.
Given what I now know about Councillor Maxine Fothergill I do not know who to believe.
Both John Fuller and Ray Sams are already Councillors in Bexley. Councillors in Bexley fall into three main categories, Charlatans and ne’er do wells, more or less OK and voting fodder who do nothing but collect their allowances and dutifully raise their right hand when so commanded.
In John Fuller and Ray Sams you have one each of the latter two. You could do a lot worse. Where is the Northumberland Numpty Councillor Philip Read running to?
Cross party support
Yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that I may have acquired some fair weather friends as no Councillor had offered any support against the unwarranted attack on news reporting by Kent Police. Since then I have had two and the one that came from a Conservative Councillor was especially welcome. Some practical advice too!
I am beginning to recover from the dreaded flu by making a few decisions; one
is that when the opportunity arises BiB will carry more stories about our
politicised and too often thoroughly corrupt police and will no longer consider a
Bexley connection to be essential.
I know for a fact, but am unfortunately sworn to secrecy, that right to the very highest level the Metropolitan Police is institutionally corrupt and probably only one of its Commissioners over the past 30 years has not been complicit in that corruption - and he was the only one to be sacked.
It will not be a daily occurrence but when the police are more than normally stupid BiB will endeavour to spread the word.
I am beginning to get my head around the gravity of what the police did to me just over two weeks ago and this morning did something I should have done immediately. I posted a formal letter of complaint.
Perhaps irrationally I also find myself annoyed with every Labour politician in Bexley. Considering how much time I spend defending them against the Tories who do little but bend the truth, I am more than a little disappointed that not a single one of them enquired about my experience at the hands of the police in Swanley. I am politically inclined to the right and always have been and it has not always been easy to find subjects on which I can lend my support to Socialists. If Bexley was not run by Tory liars I might find it an impossible task.
Come next Spring with an election due my current feeling is that Bexley Labour should not expect any support from Bexley-is-Bonkers. Maybe the flu bug is still doing the talking but that is the way I see things right now.
Usually I spend days fine tuning a letter of complaint, the one now on its way to Maidstone was rather different, I wrote it over an hour or two and didn’t change a thing before it went into the postbox.
Maybe I will live to regret that but enough time has been wasted already.
Chief Constable Alan Pughsley
Kent Police Headquarters
2nd January 2018
This letter is a formal complaint against Kent Police in general and PC Brooks (13546) based in Swanley in particular.
I publish a news website in Bexley, South East London, covering mainly but not exclusively Council based news which is no longer covered by the local press.
The most recent items are entirely typical
• A pub closure.
• A new housing development in the town centre and the total lack of affordable homes in every recent high profile planning application.
• A rerouted bus.
• Two formal reports on Council meetings.
• Fly tipping.
• The failure of the Oyster ticket machines at the newly opened Abbey Wood station.
On 18th December 2017 PC Brooks phoned me at home to say I had been accused of harassment and must attend Swanley police station in the immediate future or face arrest. She refused to tell me which news item she considered to be harassment or who had made the allegation. I could only guess what the problem might be. I would appreciate advice on whether or not PC Brooks was following correct procedure in keeping me in ignorance and potentially unable to make suitable preparations.
On arrival in Swanley PC Brooks told me that I had been accused of harassment by Bexley Councillor Maxine Fothergill.
Councillor Fothergill is well known to Kent Police. To my knowledge she has caused four people to be arrested in Kent, three of them at least on totally false charges, I understand she has also made a complaint against a police officer who eventually came to realise he had been hoodwinked by Councillor Fothergill into keeping one of her employee victims under wrongful arrest for eleven months.
Councillor Fothergill widely circulated a libellous letter about her intended victim and her new employer. On 14th November 2017 she paid the price in the High Court. The settlement totalled £70,000.
I published news of the Councillor’s lost libel case on 14th November but without any detail because the promised Press Pack had not arrived and without documentary evidence a small news website cannot risk going too far.
The Press Pack had still not arrived by the following day and I published an apology to readers for keeping them in suspense. It drew attention to the need to keep the correct balance between causing difficulties for the subject, Councillor Fothergill, and reporting factual news.
On 16th November the Press Pack belatedly arrived which allowed publication of Court documents to prove the news was well founded. A national news outlet may be able to publish facts without any documentary back-up but a very minor one must provide the evidence if it is to be considered credible.
The accompanying commentary went no further than explaining the circumstances which led to the case going to the High Court. At no time was any personal judgment made on the perpetrator of the libel.
On 17th November I published some correspondence between Kent Police and one of the litigants which attempted to show that Kent Police was not interested in the truth and happy to provide false information to the Crown Prosecution Service.
On 19th November a copy of the libellous letter was made public but without comment. It was inexplicably missing from the original Press Pack.
And that was the end of the matter, over a period of four days an item of Council related news had made the headlines and gone away.
Nearly three weeks later I received a letter from Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor about my news reports. He asked only that I did not link to any other website that had covered the story. It was clear that Councillor Fothergill’s solicitor had no complaints about my reporting.
He drew my attention to a political website which commented on the news in a way I had not. It sought to portray Councillor Fothergill as corrupt whereas my own passed no judgment whatsoever.
I revisited the subject specifically saying that what Councillor Fothergill had done was unwise but not corrupt. Despite that it is me she accuses of harassment and there is no complaint against the political news site.
Bexley Councillors have a long track record of malicious attacks on my publishing activities. As a result I have been threatened with arrest for “criticising Councillors”. A complaint went to the IPCC who instructed the Metropolitan Police to withdraw their threat.
I was also accused by the Metropolitan Police of revealing the personal details of a minor by illustrating a factual story with a deliberately blurred copy of a photograph taken from a Bexley Councillor’s public Facebook page.
My text did not reveal who was in the photograph or its source or make any reference to the photograph at all yet I was under threat of arrest for seven months until the Metropolitan Police climbed down.
Their excuses for their error included a useful note of how the law of harassment might apply to news publications. Mine has not been anywhere near to transgressing those guidelines. PC Brooks has had a copy of it for more than two weeks.
She told me that I would be informed of the outcome of the interview under caution within a couple of days, by the following weekend at the latest but there has been no contact.
My complaint is that the harassment allegation is frivolous. PC Brooks’ definition of harassment being any news item that might cause discomfort to someone somewhere would bring the whole of the press to a standstill.
A moment’s research on her part would have revealed that I had published only documented facts with almost no comment at all.
It recognised a balance between news and the potential for distress must be maintained and for that reason the subject was allowed to fade away within four days. Facts without any opinion piece cannot reasonably be interpreted as harassment and is certainly well within Met. Police guidelines issued to me.
I understand from PC Brooks that there may be a secondary allegation relating to Bexley Council finding Councillor Fothergill guilty of using her elected position to obtain financial advantages for herself.
Bexley Council released that news only reluctantly and over a long period. Each release was factually reported but the emphasis of guilt gradually changed. By the end it seemed possible that the earliest reports that came from Bexley Council were not entirely truthful but that would not be clear to anyone reading only those initial reports.
At her request I met Councillor Fothergill and we agreed a compromise which was to prefix every report on the subject with a summary, favourable to her, of what happened later so that all readers would be fully informed of the final outcome.
This summary (or an improved version of it) has remained in place for well over a year and as agreed with Councillor Fothergill. She has made no complaint. She cannot reasonably allege harassment by something which she herself requested, agreed and has hitherto accepted.
I don’t remember making a New Year’s Resolution since, well ever really. Not
seen any good reason to make changes but this year I have made several. I
daren’t say what they are for fear of arrest but at the very least I will soon
have three serious complaints outstanding against the police. I still absolutely
believe that there is no such thing as an honest copper. Show me one who will
shop a bent senior colleague and I may change my mind. Maybe former Inspector
Mick Barnbrook will let me publish some of his stories of how the Metropolitan
Police deal with total honesty in their midst.
Someone who should think seriously about making a New Year’s Resolution is Councillor Philip Read (Conservative, Northumberland Heath). He lied his way through 2017 and last night went out with a bang.
It is possible that these are the last lying Tweets he will ever launch into cyberspace, I doubt it but one can hope.
After accusing Labour Councillors of spreading fake news, minutes later Councillor Read was spreading fake news.
His lie is that Labour Councillors are unrelenting in their opposition to Belvedere Beach.
The replacement for Belvedere’s much loved Splash Park was first announced on 15th November 2016 and was immediately seen as an imaginative project. Three minutes after Cabinet Member Peter Craske had had his moment of glory denigrating the alternative ideas put forward by the voluntary groups, all of which he rejected, Labour members were on their feet welcoming Craske’s surprise announcement.
Councillor Joe Ferreira, Labour, Erith, 15th November 2016
I share the Cabinet Member in thanking the officers for the design. Is there any scope for more water features? It is great to see a scheme come forward which will be positive and I really really do hope it is a success.
Surely not a bad response from a Councillor who had been given only a few seconds to think about Craske’s surprise announcement but according to
Councillor Philip Read Joe Ferreira and his colleagues have been “unrelenting in their opposition”.
Hands up those who think Philip Read is a relentless liar who is not very good at it.
I never look forward to New Years Day, nothing to do with hang overs, it’s
just that there are too many changes required on the BiB menus and indices; and
I always forget something. You may have noticed earlier that the 2018 Index
appeared not to be working. In fact it was but taking several minutes to appear;
I had forgotten that it requires a folder for every month of the year, an empty
one will do, and without one the code sits around waiting for a time out. Eleven times
over because I had only made a January folder.
If I leave this note here perhaps it will remind me in twelve months time what not to do!
Meanwhile what can be said that will not attract the attention of Kent Police? Obviously nothing that can possibly embarrass a named individual. Can Queen Charlotte be safely mentioned?
You may recall that the Charlotte public house in Crayford closed down more than two years ago, much to the delight of local residents. It had been managed by Councillor Geraldene Lucia-Hennis (Conservative,Crayford) and had acquired a somewhat dubious reputation.
A planning application to divide the old boozer into five flats was to the surprise of most people turned down by Bexley Council on 31st August 2017, they wanted the bar to be retained. After a day out I just managed to catch the decision on the webcast.
The applicant dutifully submitted another application with bar included. Bexley Council had got their wish and two months later the new plan was approved.
However the applicant was not happy, he had appealed Bexley Council’s original perverse decision that the run down drinking den must be given a new lease of life.
Two weeks ago a Local Government Department Inspector decided that Bexley Council had been every bit as unreasonable as one has come to expect. The original five flat plan has been given the go-ahead; the Charlotte has gone forever and nearby residents need no longer live in fear of late night revelry.
The Inspector rejected any suggestion that the Charlotte was an Asset of Community Value and implied that Bexley Council had abused such a listing. An ACV does not prevent acceptable alternative use. The Inspector also noted what should have been obvious to Bexley Council, that “several alternatives existed within easy walking distance” and the Charlotte had “reputational issues”.
Bexley Council may have been pursuing its own dubious agenda or it is simply incompetent. Always hard to tell.