Our thanks go to John Brace for filming last night’s meeting of Wirral Council Standards Panel and for giving us the heads up that we would be reunited with some familiar Wirral Leaks ‘favourites’.
John hasn’t uploaded all of the five part mini-series yet but from what we’ve seen it’s the usual Wirral Council Standards Panel farrago bogged down in procedure ,protocol, partisan politicking and pettiness. However we look forward to John’s incisive eyewitness report with snippets from the investigation report in question at a later date.
The actual hearing concerns an allegation brought against Conservative Cllr Paul Hayes councillor by the Professor Maggie Atkinson – the Independent Chair of Wirral Safeguarding Board. Professor Atkinson alleges that Cllr Hayes was in breach of Wirral Council’s Code of Conduct for suggesting that the decision not to publish the Serious Case Review into the Rajenthiram brothers Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) case was part of a ‘cover up’ ( further allegations made against Cllr Ian Lewis and Cllr Tom Anderson found there was no case to answer).
Ironically the investigation report was written by ex Wirral Council solicitor Simon Goacher of Weightman’s who are the go-to legal firm that Wirral Council call upon to when it comes to cover ups (most notably the infamous and illegal ‘four week delay’ in the provision of adult care services.) This has not only enabled Wirral Council to hide behind ‘legal privilege’ but allows them to state they have sought external legal advice and therefore everything is ‘legit’ when in fact the exact opposite is true – as was the case in an unreported case of further unlawful charging of disabled people that Weightman’s were also called upon to help put a bit of concealing legal gloss on.
Meanwhile initial observations from us indicate that the Standards Panel played their usual roles – Cllr Phil ‘Anodyne’ Gilchrist dithering about and being in complete,fence-sitting Lib Dem mode. Cllr Chris ‘Bulldog’ Blakeley in full on belligerent ,bulldog chewing a wasp mode and Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ Mc Laughlin in arms folded, eyerolling, ‘Matron-Knows-Best’ exasperation mode (though we did enjoy the little snipe at Wirral Council’s head of law Philip McCourt – is the honeymoon period over we ask ourselves? )
We await further instalments with interest and be grateful for the fact that at least John Brace was allowed to film this particular Standards Panel and wasn’t physically prevented from entering the Committee room , as was the case in the infamous 2016 Cllr Steve ‘Foulkesy’ Foulkes Standards Panel debacle. Now, if you really want to talk about cover ups…