Dear Inspector Finnis,
I am making a formal complaint against Sergeant Cooke (11901) for his decision to charge me with harassment less than 24 hours after accepting a Statement from Councillor Maxine Fothergill on 29th December 2017.
It is clear from both his haste and his disregard for the facts that he failed to carry out any sort of investigation whatsoever into the almost completely false evidence provided by Councillor Fothergill.
Even a cursory examination of the facts would have shown Sergeant Cooke that he was dealing with a proven liar who admitted to her lies in the High Court where she had produced forged documents in her defence.
Notwithstanding that, Sergeant Cooke accepted without question everything Councillor Fothergill said and disregarded my Statement made eleven days earlier which among other things included a document provided to me by the Metropolitan Police which, had he read it, would have informed him that the laws of harassment as they apply to journalists differ from those with which he may have been more familiar.
Had Sergeant Cooke conducted even the most rudimentary of enquiries he would have discovered that the main plank of Councillor Fothergill’s argument was false. I had correctly reported, complete with screenshots of the evidence, that Fothergill had been found guilty by Bexley Council’s Code of Conduct Committee of abusing her position to obtain financial advantages. Her contention that she was innocent was a lie and had Sergeant Cooke been interested in the truth a few clicks on Bexley Council’s website would have exposed Fothergill’s lie.
Rightly or maybe wrongly my reports dated 2016 exonerated Councillor Fothergill from blame and as Sergeant Cooke correctly points out it took a long time to reach that conclusion but clearly he could have read none of them. Had he done so he would have known that most supported Councillor Fothergill.
He would also have discovered that Fothergill’s assertion that I first mentioned her on 8th December 2015 was wrong and he may have noticed that of the 41 blogs noted on the Charge Sheet four did not mention Fothergill at all, 19 defended her against what I believed to be a malicious ‘prosecution’ by Bexley Council and ten stated in various ways that there was no evidence that Fothergill had done anything untoward. The remainder were simple news reports including the fact that Fothergill had been reported to Kent Police for the theft of six figure sums and inexplicably ignored those allegations. That is not harassment it is a straightforward news report and unless Sergeant Cooke never reads a newspaper he should have recognised that.
Despite the evidence available to him Sergeant Cooke decided within a matter of hours that everything I had written was designed to harass Councillor Fothergill and the only explanation I can see is that Sergeant Cooke is either too easily influenced by Fothergill’s title or that he is incompetent.
Other things he could have easily investigated include the claim that I caused so much stress that Fothergill’s bowel became perforated. It is well known that her intestinal condition pre-dates my involvement and the date of the emergency operation for which I was blamed is not as stated by Councillor Fothergill. A simple search of the NHS website would have discredited Fothergill’s claim of her bowel perforation being directly connected (or even indirectly connected) to stress but a simple investigation appears to have been beyond Sergeant Cooke’s abilities.
The suggestion that my blog has ruined Fothergill’s business is another nonsense that could have been discredited within seconds by a competent police officer. A Google search for her company name will go to Page 5 before referencing my blog, and then only a copy of what was posted on the High Court’s website.
The Sergeant stated in his Charge Summary that I used derogatory language. Had he read the documents available to him he would have found none beyond my description of indulging in libel as being ‘silly’. Similarly he would not have found any threats because there were none. Far from it, I had argued with Councillor Fothergill that it would be in her best interests to cease reporting on her indiscretions as soon as possible while she was intent on them being continued apparently in the misguided belief that I might be able to throw doubt on the High Court decision.
Sergeant Cooke’s abject failure to carry out his duties as a police officer caused me three months of sleepless nights and cost a sum of money well into four figures. His immediate acceptance of the word of an accomplished liar rather than look at the evidence before him disgraces Kent Police and indeed police officers everywhere.
Whilst I have every sympathy with anyone confronted by such an accomplished liar as Councillor Maxine Fothergill I cannot overlook the fact that a public servant whose job it is to discover the truth should be so thoroughly deceived by such an individual that he immediately throws every element of professionalism to the wind and accepts a tissue of lies without any background checks whatsoever.
I look forward to hearing from you that Sergeant Cooke has been reprimanded and his incompetence will not be allowed to blight the lives of innocent citizens ever again.