Sanction Distinction

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LRJ and Foulkesy – same actions, different sanctions

And so another Labour councillor from Wirral Council is found to be unworthy of holding public office as a damning Standards Panel ‘Decision Notice’ is published. Wirral Leaks readers will know that Cllr Louise Reecejones (LRJ)  is no stranger to these pages . This time she appears to be the perpetrator rather than the victim of malicious acts.

The Standards Panel , after considering an Investigators Report, “found the actions of  Cllr Reecejones were designed to threaten,intimidate,underine and cause difficulties at work “ for one of the complainants Tamsin Coates . The Standards Panel also noted that LRJ  took a similar approach to the second complainant , Jessica Smyth, where she had made a complaint to the organisation where Ms Jessica Smyth volunteered . Both Ms Coates and Ms Smyth had previously raised legitimate concerns with Wirral Council’s Internal Audit and Merseyside Police. Although no charges were brought against LRJ  because of ‘insufficient evidence’ the complainants were found to be justified in raising their concerns.

LRJ 015

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50042506/Standards%20Panel%2015%20June%202017%20Decsion%20Notice.pdf

Furthermore the Standards Panel found all the complainants  to be credible ( there were more from the Overchurch Residents Association) and yet LRJ was found to be ‘inconsistent, vague and misleading’   –   we know what they’re trying to say there don’t we boys and girls? Of particular interest to us was this quote from the Decision Notice :

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However it was when we read the ‘Sanctions’ section that apoplexy rapidly set in.

There are 5 sanctions in all  : i ) a formal warning letter from Wirral Council’s Monitoring Officer  Surjit Tour (!) ii) LJR must provide a written apology to all complainants iii)  Labour leader Cllr Phil Davies to consider whether party disciplinary action be taken against LRJ and whether she should be removed from all outside bodies to which she has been appointed iv) Tour will be arranging ‘training’ for LRJ which she must attend v) The Panel’s decision to be considered further by the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee.

These sanctions stand in stark contrast to the mild rebuke that was imposed on Cllr Steve Foulkes last year. Foulkesy got away with an apology to  Tory leader Cllr Jeff Green who wasn’t even the complainant! Foulkesy had lied to Wirral Council, lied to the investigator (necessitating a further investigation costing  Wirral Council taxpayers £17K) and continues to lie about what he and Cllr George Davies had been up to – to this very day.

If we were LRJ we’d be asking some serious questions as to why Foulkesy wasn’t given similar sanctions. Especially in relation to a proven liar being able to represent Wirral Council on outside bodies.If anything he is even more unworthy of public office than LRJ – and it would appear that’s really saying something!

But then again we did advise LRJ she was on a hiding to nothing a long time ago . She’s not and never has been part of  the ‘Inner Ring’ . Unlike Standards  Panel  member Cllr Moira McLaughlin who must have enjoyed sticking the knife in someone who played a part in bringing down disgraced former Labour councillor Jim Crabtree – who was , very much, part of the ‘Inner Ring’ .

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/suspension-suspense/

We have never claimed that all Labour councillors are dishonest,incompetent or corrupt but we have consistently called out the cabal that are. Ultimately  we believe it is this ‘Inner Ring’ which has consistently brought Wirral Council into disrepute and until these people are removed from public office the people of Wirral will continue to be poorly served.

Although currently marked ‘Strictly Private and Confidential ‘ the full ‘Investigators Report’ can be found here

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/g6133/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Jun-2017%2017.00%20Standards%20Panel.pdf?T=10

 

 

Defending the Empire

Empire

Before we reveal the answers to our ‘Men of Mystery ‘ quiz we’d  like to maintain the suspense for slightly longer and mention a couple of Wirral Leaks regulars.

Firstly we ruefully note that ,  Asif ‘Massive’ Hamid ,Chair of Wirral Chamber of Commerce and CEO of The Contact Company has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

How appropriate that someone who specialises in empire building has been awarded an MBE! – even more so when you consider the Wirral Chamber of Horrors seems to specialise in giving awards.

Needless to say as we’re the proud recipients of a hereditary title we do have a tendency to be a bit sneery about such awards dispensed to the so-called great and the good. However our main objection is that such awards seem to serve as a defence to any  criticism-  ‘I have been honoured by the Queen ergo I am a good person’  

I’m sure all us ‘unworthies’  could name a ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ or a recipient of a lesser honour who makes us want to shake our head in despair that these people are considered to be ‘worthies’.

Talking of worthies and unworthies the Wirral Council  Standards Panel involving complaints made against Cllr Louise Reecejones did take place this week.

At least John Brace was given the honour and the privilege of being allowed to film the first part of the meeting where it was decided that he should be unceremoniously chucked out for the rest of it!

This is more than be said for last year’s  farce of a Standards Panel / Cover-Up meeting where the doors were barricaded against Brace to prevent him filming Foulkesy’s shame.

As you can see from the footage it’s the same cast from Wirral Council playing their usual roles . Cllr Chris Blakeley – the British bulldog , Cllr Moira McLaughlin  – the stern matron and Cllr Phil Gilchrist – well ,being a Lib Dem, sitting on the fence and voting to exclude the public. And of course we don’t have to tell you what the  Head of Law Surjit Tour advised do we?

Cllr Gilchrist stated that this was part of an attempt to maintain ‘public confidence in our system’ .

Really? – based on the operation of the last two Standards Panel hearings and the totally ineffectual  and self serving  Councillor’s Code of Conduct we have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE in Wirral Council’s system of protecting the powerful. Indeed when we questioned a member of the Standards and Constitutional Committee last year about the Foulkesy  ‘slap on the wrist’  They replied :

The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action

As we responded :

Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. 

Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it.
Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………. 
Whilst at the moment we don’t know the full extent of the allegations made against Cllr Reecejones – although we are promised a redacted investigator’s report shortly- it wouldn’t really matter what she (or any other councillor) had been up to as they  have neatly devised and cynically approved a policy that will forever protect the powerful to defend their political empires.

Restricted View

Restricted View 009

After yesterday’ s story about the Standards Panel meeting to be held on 15 June we questioned whether openness and transparency would prevail in the matter of this particular councillor Code of Conduct complaint . And true to (bad) form Wirral Council have today published the laughably named ‘public reports pack’ on their website.

First of all you will see that Agenda Item 4  is what can only be described as Kafkaesque as the press and public are excluded from presumably discussing whether the press and public will be able to attend the rest of the meeting !  I think we all know the answer to that already don’t we boys and girls?

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/g6133/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Jun-2017%2017.00%20Standards%20Panel.pdf?T=10

Agenda 5 is concerned with an investigation report and its 12 appendices which are allegedly attached. Needless to say they’re not – all we get is pages 45-211 marked either Document is Restricted’ or ‘This page is intentionally left blank ‘ .

We imagine some town hall power abuser (take your pick!) rather enjoyed instructing some lowly , downtrodden clerk to upload every single page marked in this way rather than just state that Wirral Council will not publish the documents before the meeting.

We can imagine this pathetic power trippin’ specimen looking in the mirror of the town hall bogs and fist-pumping as if to say : “That’ll show ’em who’s in charge”. It’s just such a shame the vainglorious vampire wouldn’t be able to see their own reflection!

Low Standards

Standards 2017 011

So here we go again – it’s June so that must mean another Wirral Council Standards Panel cover -up is upon us – or maybe not!

This time round it’s not the Wirralgate cover -up – and if  certain councillors think they’re out of the woods on that one they’re very much mistaken – but more on that another time.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/behind-closed-doors/

We’re hoping that meeting may enable us to get to the bottom of a particular mystery that emerged from the Jim ‘Crabby’ Crabtree court case earlier this year when the disgraced former councillor was convicted of making a telephone call to Cllr Louise Reecejones where he threatened to kill her. During the threat reference was made to a seemingly random sum of £19,000. As we have previously reported we have never been able to get to the bottom of the significance of this particular figure.

Mystery Figure

Mystery Figure Update : None the wiser

However it would seem that all may revealed at a Standards Panel to be held next week- or maybe not ! We exclusively gave you the heads up that this meeting was on the way :

Political Manoeuvres In The Dark

Consequently , the Standards Panel meeting was listed on the Wirral Council website last week and then mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared. This was all very reminiscent of last years’ never-ending Standards Panel shenanigans.

Council insiders tell us that complainants in this case have made it known that they want the proceedings to be public but have been advised that that will be decided by the panel on the evening of the meeting.
We are also told that all 3 complainants and Cllr Reecejones will be allowed to submit an ‘opening statement’ explaining why they believe that it is in the public interest for proceedings to be either open or closed . We’re sure panel members can be swayed in favour of openness and transparency – or maybe not!
Let’s just hope intrepid reporter John Brace doesn’t have a wasted journey like he did last June (see ‘Behind Closed Doors’ story above) where he had to endure the indignity of being shut out of the Standards Panel which discussed Cllr Steve Foulkes flagrant dishonesty . We understand that council officers resorted to extraordinary lengths to keep Brace out of the meeting by blocking the door to the Committee room where the meeting was held . So when it comes to disregarding standards in public life and protecting the powerful it was a case of ‘how low can you go?’ Apparently in Wirral Council’s case it would appear to be lower than a rattlesnake’s belly!
Nevertheless it will be particularly interesting to find out as to whether Cllr Reecejones  will be afforded the same privileges and protection that her illustrious colleague Foulkesy enjoyed , especially when they’re are some interesting personal dynamics within the Labour group when it comes to this particular case.
However with Cllr Moira McLaughlin,  the chair of the  Standards  and Constitutional Oversight Committee in attendance, we‘re sure that the conduct of Standards Panel meeting will be beyond reproach – or maybe not!……….

 

This Gun (Ain’t) For Hire

 

this-gun-for-hire

Our attention has been drawn to a number of interesting Facebook posts this week. This includes one posted yesterday by Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley which read :

Earlier this evening I was at Wallasey Town Hall for a special scrutiny meeting requisitioned by the Conservatives to look into the activity of Wirral Community Patrol and try to find out why it provides free security checks to private business and individuals.

The debate was interesting, with former Leader of the Council, Labour’s Steve Foulkes accusing the conservatives of trying to make political gain, and referring to me as ‘A hired Gun’. I must have done something right then!

Anyway at the end of the meeting and to try to be helpful i moved a motion that read:

‘Committee resolves to set up a Task and Finish group to carry out a full review of Wirral’s Community Patrol service and on completion of the review the findings be reported back to the Environment Committee.’

Now I thought, being an innocuous and non political motion that it would get all party support. How wrong was I with the Labour Councillors and the Lib Dem voting against. Just what have they got to hide?

First of all we see that the long running Blakeley v Foulkesy feud continues. Oh how Blakeley must’ve loved being at the Standards Panel earlier this year where Foulkesy’s serial mendacity was discussed ad nauseum. However the satisfaction must’ve been purely personal as Foulkesy staggeringly continues to be a councillor and therefore able to bait Bulldog Blakeley with his old standby about Conservatives trying to make ‘political gain’ by requisitioning pointless political point scoring meetings. As for ‘political gain’ how does Foulkesy reconcile this statement with asking his badly bequiffed bestie Cllr George Davies asking for a document smearing the Conservative group leader Jeff Green in exchange for cold, hard cash?.

However let’s get back to the political pantomime that is Blakeley v Foulkesy.  The respective Rottweilers of Wirral’s leading (and constantly) feuding political parties. Shame the pair of them were neutered a long time ago and this is purely for entertainment purposes with Blakeley keeping his powder dry and Foulkesy firing blanks.

Witness as Foulkesy  refers to Blakeley as a ” A hired Gun” (sic) – so tell us Foulkesy who is Blakeley hired by?. Meanwhile Blakeley asks the question about Labour and Lib Dem councillors :“Just what have they got to hide?” . So tell us Blakeley what exactly have they got to hide?

The fact is you’ve all got something to hide. As this missive to Leaky Towers seems to testify :

Councillor Blakeley posted on Facebook today that the conservative party has lodged an investigation into Wirral community patrol to the councils scrutiny committee.

The reason believed to be community patrol officers security checks on Angela Eagle’s headquarters in Liscard is just not a big deal at all.
They should be investigating how the Wirral Community Patrol Limited came about and what was the reasons for Atlas Fire and Security owner Mr Piggott branding this council service – illegal by the way.
Also ex – Wirral Community patrol manager John Kenny and his ex -Assistant manager Mike Collins setting up Atlas Security Patrol and then plundering over 40% of Wirral Community Patrols business using insider knowledge of their pricing structure.
This is well known by the head of the Wirral Conservative Party and Mr Blakeley but inspection of Facebook sites shows they are both friends with Mike Collins who is also a Conservative Party member who only last year ran in the Bromborough ward.They always protect their friends no matter what party.
Atlas Patrol are now part of the Wirral Chamber elite with their best mate Adderley – head honcho.  Watch this space…… 
We note that the former Conservative councillor Leah Fraser , who was the most prominent champion of the Community Patrol guys, is no longer a Conservative councillor. She follows on from Simon Mountney – the Conservative councillor who championed the notorious Martin Morton whistleblowing case. Seems to us that if you speak up for those treated unfairly by Wirral Council – you have no future with the local Conservative Party.

All this does from our perspective is to reiterate our clarion call to all the talented , intelligent , ambitious young people of personal integrity on Wirral and that is to get out of this incestuous, pernicious peninsula as fast as you can………..

Oh , and finally we don’t expect Cllr Blakeley to retweet or like this blog post on Facebook because we don’t and never will be seeking his or any other Wirral councillor’s approval. We ain’t for hire. EVER.

WIRRALGATE! – Protecting the Defectives

defective-by-design

This is the last instalment of our deconstruction of Patricia Thynne’s  Code of Conduct investigations.That is not to say that this will be the last you will hear about the Wirralgate scandal as our sources promise to keep spouting leaks.

This particular post concerns itself with the role of councillors. Not the specific councillors implicated in Wirralgate but the role of all councillors in protecting their own regardless of political affiliation.

It is infuriating to recount that in the light of the Independent Review published in 2012 that investigator Anna “BIG WEDGE” * Klonowski was instructed to keep any criticism of councillors out of her investigation and tried to get around this by publishing the cheerily titled ‘Refresh and Renew’ report prior to the publication of the Independent Review . This report told Wirral’s councillors , amongst other tedious procedural matters , that they’d created a ‘corrosive culture’ where the ‘abnormal was normal’.

However as a result Klonowski took her eye of her original brief which was to investigate the whistleblowing allegations of Martin Morton (and various unnamed others) . This meant that many of the issues brought to her attention have up until today neither been reported nor resolved. Consequently Wirral ‘s councillors received a metaphorical gentle slap on the wrist when what they required was a punch in the face.

And so with the abolition of Standards for  England and the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 councils were allowed to police themselves when it came to conduct issues involving elected members.

Wirral Council took full advantage of this void in accountability and almost the first thing they did after the publication of the Independent Review  was to ensure that councillors were protected no matter how many of The Seven Principles of Public Life they violated.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-7-principles-of-public-life/the-7-principles-of-public-life–2

We think it is instructive to examine how Wirral Council’s Code of Conduct complaints procedure works in practice. Cllr Steve Foulkes  and  Cllr George Davies  were originally subject to an investigation following concerns raised as a result of rumours swirling around Wallasey Town Hall and which were ignited by Wirral Leaks . It is significant to recall Cllr Jeff Green , the so-called complainant , chose specifically not to pursue a Code of Conduct complaint. Which surely begs the question as to why not?.

However as we know Thynne’s first deeply flawed investigative report was completed on 20th June 2014 and published the following month by Wirral Council , as it was seemingly a classic  case “no  case to answer” . And that would have been that if it wasn’t for the fact that Foulkesy and Georgie Boy had lied and lied and lied to Thynne. It took an email sent to all 66 councillors in December 2104 from key witness  Martin Morton – the man who had initiated the Independent Review  – to bring the dishonesty and deceit to their attention.

However councillors just chose to simply ignore him and seemingly their own Code of Conduct too and no further investigation took place.

It wasn’t until May 2015 when former council communications czarina Emma Degg , having heard the Wirralgate tape , belatedly came forward for reasons known only to herself and confirmed Morton’s allegations.

Subsequently Thynne was appointed to revisit her original report soon thereafter . Significantly this was at the behest of  council officers and NOT councillors and as we can see Thynne handed in her second report on 6th  December 2015.

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Readers may want to ask themselves why it took until 28th June 2015 before a Standards Panel considered Thynne’s findings. The answer is that councillors can delay with impunity. In Foulkesy’s case this included a right of reply (because his rights are so much more important than us mere mortals) and of course having additional time to brief his free legal representation about his misdemeanours (courtesy of the Association of Labour Councillors ).

protecting-the-defectives-014

And after all this flagrant misconduct , what happens?. Nothing much!. An undeserved apology to an opportunistic councillor who hadn’t pursued a Code of Conduct complaint in the first place!. We note ruefully that Cllr  Jeff “Kindred” Green has failed to make that apology public.

We have to ask  whether it can be right that a public servant in the course of public duties publicly violates the principles of public life and yet is allowed to make a PRIVATE apology.

We did manage to squeeze a comment from a local councillor about this abuse of power and they replied :

“The ‘sanctions’ able to be applied are limited to just a few courses of action.”

To which we replied :

“Yes and who decided that? You guys did!. Utterly feeble. Should be with police and you know it. Thankfully we know people much braver and committed to public accountability than you guys and we’ll be supporting them 100%…………” 

It is sickening to reflect that for a local authority that failed to protect vulnerable adults and now has been found to failed to adequately protect vulnerable children finds the wherewithal to protect themselves from any kind of meaningful and appropriate sanction . In this respect Wirral Council are truly Defective By Design.org

 

And that is the most damning indictment of  Wirral Council’s elected members that we could ever make.

*http://thebristolian.net/tag/anna-klonowski/

WIRRALGATE! – ‘Foulkesy the Fibber’

JAIL

First of all can we say that is unfair on Cllr Steve Foulkes or ‘Foulkesy’ (as he shall now be forever known) that he is the only one to come in for a mild rebuke on the publication of Thynne 2 report .We consider that there are others far more worthy of censure.

Furthermore we question the ridiculous emphasis placed in the report on a so-called “smear campaign”  – there was no smear campaign against Cllr Jeff Green (but more of that on another post) . The “smear campaign” is a smokescreen for misconduct worthy of much more than a belated and begrudged apology.

Where Foulkesy’s culpability does lie is in his reckless stupidity and his sense of privileged invincibility . This was demonstrated by his actions at a Wirral Council meeting held on 15 July 2013-and particularly during the adjournments –  where Foulkesy unleashed the scandal still untold that is Wirralgate. Consequently the other 3 members of Wirral’s Gang of Four – Cllr George Davies , Cllr Phil Davies and Birkenhead MP Frank Field have had to spend considerable time and YOUR money on getting this chancer out of jail.

The most telling paragraph about Foulkesy in the Thynne 2 report  can be found here:

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Is it only us at Leaky Towers who find the  term ‘economical with the truth’ much more offensive than ‘liar’. What should we do call Foulkesy a ‘fibber’ ? – sorry we’re in no mood for polite and dare we say evasive euphemisms –  Foulkesy is a LIAR – and a well practised if not very accomplished one at that . Even when confronted with incontrovertible evidence he persists with the lies. If only he’d told the truth the first time round Wirral Council could have saved itself £17,000 commissioning a second report from Patricia Thynne. Although we have to say Thynne could have saved us a lot of bother by actually checking the minutes of the Wirral Council meeting held on  15 July 2013 where she would have seen recorded the two adjournments which Foulkesy denied actually did take place.

Under the circumstances we should at least be grateful we didn’t pick up the tab for Foulkesy’s solicitor Frances Randle. Ms Randle is the Labour Party’s local government solicitor and her fees are funded by a levy from the Association of Labour Councillors. It’s nice to see the Labour Party spending their members subs on such worthy causes isn’t it?.

Finally we note the Decision Notice of the Standards Panel which considered the findings of Thynne 2 includes the following line :

The panel welcomes Councillor Foulkes’ offer to contribute to the improvement of the culture of the Council

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50035824/20160628_Standards%20Panel%20Decision%20Notice.pdf

On behalf of the good people of Wirral can we respectfully reject this offer and suggest that Foulkesy had a chance to contribute to the improvement of the culture of Wirral Council after a series of damning reports criticising the Council regime under his leadership. However it seems he contributed nothing but more scheming  and lies.

Therefore we think the time has finally come for him to ‘Foulkes Off’  for once and for all!………………..

 

WIRRALGATE! – Secrets and Lies

Private Eye Aug 2016 008

As we ponder the fallout from the Thynne 2 report we note that Private Eye magazine have this week written a less than flattering account of Wirral Council. The article focuses on the inglorious record of the Local Government Chronicle giving awards to local authorities “heading for (if not already up) shit creek” and as an example  goes on to question the secrecy surrounding the Standards Panel  where Thynne 2 was discussed.

For an eye witness account of the “bureaucratic machinations” surrounding the Standards Panel meeting look no further than the latest post on John Brace’s blog .

However as we promised we’ve given Thynne 2 the once over and as ever with such reports it provides us with more questions than answers. Nevertheless we thought we’d unpick what we could in a systematic way and deal with the leading players and outstanding  issues from the report in the following separate blog posts :

Foulkesy the Fibber  – the man and the motivation behind the lies

George Davies Dodges the Bullets – but for how long?

Green and Yellow – does Cllr Jeff Green deserve an apology?. In a word : No.

Double Echo – the tale behind a recording of a recording

Code of Silence – how councillors abuse their power to protect each other

The Notorious Two – the surprise witnesses who brought about Thynne 2

The Prefab Four – the anonymous men who hold Wirral’s leading politicians a hostage to fortune

It’ll End in Tears – who’ll be crying all the way to the bank and who’ll be in despair about the death of accountability? Wirral Leaks predicts some further twists and turns in this sordid saga despite the best intentions of Wirral Council to ‘move forward’ as fast as they can write a few cheques out!.

 

WIRRALGATE ! – Half the Story

 

SweatyFouker

 

Shamefully nearly 3 years after Wirral Leaks first broke the story here it is at last the 2nd Patricia Thynne  investigation report into misconduct by Wirral councillors -or more accurately and for some strange reason just one in particular.

https://wirralleaks.wordpress.com/2013/09/11/exclusive-wirralgate/

Verity is currently combing through the report and we will be bringing you our full detailed analysis over the next few days. But from what we’ve read it’s only half the story (if that) .

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=751&MId=5769&Ver=4

We have the advantage of having been  gifted  a very revealing archive which we hope tells a much more compelling and accurate version of events surrounding Wirralgate and which we think leaves an indelible stain on Wirral Council.

However for starters here are the findings against  Councillor Steve Foulkes

Thynne 2 015

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50035824/20160628_Standards%20Panel%20Decision%20Notice.pdf

We’ll leave our readers to consider in the light of the findings whether an apology is an appropriate sanction for such astonishing dishonesty and whether someone who conducts themselves in such a manner should be making decisions about your life and representing Wirral Council on lucrative outside bodies.