Wirral Council Leader won’t let cuts / austerity / lack of funds get in the way of a sumptious far east visit

davies-and-anderson-trip-to-china

5th December 2016

Leader Phil Davies recently accompanied Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson on an autumn junket to the far east – for two whole weeks – beginning on Saturday 22nd October 2016.

After a timely tip-off – which came in as early as 16th September – we thought we’d attempt to grab a portion of Davies’ oft-professed “Openness and Transparency” by lodging an FOI request asking for some details, mainly around how much public money was ultimately being spent, and in what areas – as is our statutory right.

Back in September 2009 we were cynically banned from doing this, with our FOI and data protection querying rights stripped away.  But we’ve made up for that lost 20 months in the wilderness by lodging quite a few more after having our rights restored in 2011.  This is a screen grab from the excellent WhatDoTheyKnow website:

total-of-foi-requests

 


The China request

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/senior_staff_member_visits_to_ch

china-oct-2016-foi-request

The query was answered in two parts, with the first bit coming back on 14th October 2016, eight days prior to lift-off.

part-1-answer-to-wirral-china-foi-request

We then waited for the council to come good with the rest of the information.  But this didn’t happen so we prodded them on 12th November – shortly after the two brave wayfarers had spent all the cash and returned to Blighty.  However the information took almost a further three weeks to arrive, with no apology for the delay:

part-2-answer-to-wirral-china-foi-request


Outcome

The total costs in public money for Councillor Phil Davies’ China visit were:

Total cost of leader’s flight:    £627.72

Total cost of internal flights:  £1,175

Total cost of accommodation: £1,588.25

Total cost of expenses:             £102.76

Grand Total:                              £3,493.73

 



So the cost to the Wirral public of accommodating Phil in the comfort to which he is accustomed outstripped the cost to the Wirral public of delivering Phil safely to the landing strip tarmac…

And this is not exactly good reading when you consider that this council leader frequently trots out a tiresome litany of excuses such as “lack of funds” or “central government cuts”or “austerity”as reasons why his organisation can’t fulfil their basic statutory obligations to look after vulnerable citizens – or the people who drew the short straw by being unfortunate enough to find themselves domiciled within the boundaries of an abusive, deceitful, basket case council.  A council where the CEO, Eric Robinson, was one of the few people to buck the miserable trend by netting a £45,000 pay rise soon after arrival.

But let’s finish on a brighter note with a pictorial tour of the five luxury hotels that the deceitful Council Leader and the intrepid Mayor of Liverpool enjoyed, all on you dear reader, all on you.

Now… as we dig over the finer detail, we begin to appreciate exactly why the cost of expensive long haul flights took a back seat in the race to meet Phil and Joe’s domestic demands i.e. where they chose to eat, to drink, to spend their downtime, to enjoy the local nightlife and to stretch out their tired, emotional, prostrate, sleeping forms.

Although this two-week sojourn was presented to us as “council business”, something familiar to “council business” was missing.  The customary  lack of funds / austerity / central gov cuts elements were not permitted to intrude upon Phil and Joe’s enjoyment of the local facilities – you may be deeply disturbed and disgusted to hear:

Kunming Green Lake Hotel, Kunming

kunming-green-lake-hotel-china

“Tell yer what Phil, lad. I could phukken retire here, laahhhh.”

Sample review: I truly loved the Green Lake Hotel. Situated across from Green Lake, this hotel is a great combination of old world class and new world amenities. In the morning, out front, you really don’t want to miss the group of people doing Tai Chi. They are really great. The rooms were spacious, and include the baseline of things I need to like a room: a comfy bed, a safe and a refrigerator. Otherwise, they were well appointed with nice bedding, a lot pillows, a chair or two and a lot of places to stow your luggage. The Green Lake Hotel had a wonderful bathroom, that included a TV at the tub. We really liked that there was a screen between the bathroom and the room, so you could either look into the room from the tub…or not. The bathroom also came with more amenities than any other hotel room I have checked into, including condoms — oh my! The staff was lovely! Admittedly they don’t have much English – {Some visiting English luminaries don’t have much English either… Ed} but they do try, and we never experienced bad service due to their limited English. In fact a couple of times, we used a member of the front desk staff to act as interpreters.

Intercontinental Chongqing

intercontinental-chongqing

“Phukk meee, Philly laaahhh, dat rivvaz nirlly as wide as da Miiirrrrzzee…”

Sample review: From the moment I arrived customer service was second to none. Absolutely brilliant! The reception area beautifully maintained. Easy check in and offered help with bags – something that doesn’t always happen in China.

Large room, very good value for money. Again, beautifully maintained.

Used the swimming pool and spa. Again, lovely polite girl showed me round and helped me purchase a swim hat.

Breakfast buffet perfect. Lots of variety and plenty of steaming hot tea and coffee

Would defiantly recommend

Shangri-La Hotel, Jianguo, Beijing

shangri-la-hotel-jianguo

“Jeeezus mate.  If me ahld girrl cud see me now. Ha ha!!  Dat reception’s like summat off Bladerunner, laaaahhh.”

Sample review: This was my first trip to Beijing , China and the quality of the stay and the service at the Shangri La, definitely enhanced my experience, Its a beautiful property. The lobby is huge and beautifully decorated (specially the flower arrangements), and can be a nice place to relax in the evenings, with live music going on. The rooms are thoughtfully furnished and very comfortable. The staff are attentive without being obtrusive. The concierge was very helpful in providing directions to various places of interest, and also making reservations for us at the nearby Haidi Low. Overall a feeling of comfort blending into luxury!

Holiday Inn, Qingdao

holiday-inn-qingdao

“Eh, soft lad.  I’ve bagzeed da window side o’ dat bed.  I’m senior, so forget it kid… an’ keep yer cold feet off me phukken back.”

Sample review: 1. The hotel is follow the Holiday Inn style and give me a pleasant atmosphere which can relax myself easily, especially after a hard work.
2.The room is clean and comfortable.
3. The transportation is quite convenient. i can take a work to the sea side easily. Also can get to other place quickly.
4.The service is wonderful and full of passion. it makes me good emotions everyday. I want to emphasize the executive club service is marvelous and make me a feeling like stay at home. Especially deeply thanks to Tera, Vicky and Kyra’s great effort.

Hotel Equatorial, Shanghai

hotel-equatorial-shanghai

“Eh yoo.  Dat’s phukken mine.  Der’s da blower, Phil.  Ring fer yer friggin’ own.”

Sample review: The hotel itself is typical for a hotel serving the international clientele. Very friendly staff (more about that below), great food, comfortable rooms with great views, and all the rest of it, as my British wife would say. The Hilton Hotel is the next building over, and I cannot comment on the size of Hilton’s rooms, but I can on the size of their windows, and Equatorial’s windows are much larger than Hilton’s. Make of that what you will.

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#Brickgate – Police finally admit – There’s No Evidence to Conclude ‘Angela Eagle’s Window’ was Smashed by a Brick

merseyside-police-post-ico-complaint-disclosure

30th November 2016

Five months on, Merseyside Police…

  • whilst possessing undisclosed information
  • after watching Angela Eagle and UK Labour allow uncontrolled falsehoods to be spread across 12+ national UK Newspapers for reckless political advantage
  • and whilst watching and hearing these fabrications being consolidated and built upon across national TV and Radio channels

…have finally admitted:

Although the damage to the window appears to have been attributed by the media to a brick, no conclusive information is held that the brick (which was at the scene) caused the damage.

Speculation

So the question on everybody’s lips now should be, if no conclusive information is held that the brick (which was at the scene) caused the damage, what was it more likely to be?

If the cause of the damage is and always was inconclusive, who were the police looking for during their unsuccessful investigation?  Were they concentrating on potentially a vandal who’d put his boot through the window – unlikely given its height?

Screenshot_2016-12-04-12-57-06-1-1.png

Or did the police actually have whoever reported the incident privately under suspicion?

Such an explanation would seem more in keeping with the facts as they stand now, given that no conclusive information was ever held that a brick was the cause of the damage – even though it was found at the scene!  The police held this information all along, eventually stating, “However the following is disclosed because time has now passed…”

Angela Eagle’s team were the same people who had failed to report criminal instances of alleged homophobia at the Wallasey CLP Annual General meeting on 24th June, just three weeks earlier – which served their own purposes as smears proliferated throughout the still unregulated UK media.  Similarly, bogus, unchecked smears travelled UK-wide on this occasion – and the truth still wants an opportunity to get its boots on!

Remember how photographs taken at the scene showed broken glass on the public footpath outside the building, whereas a brick being propelled through the glass would surely have sent the broken fragments inwards?

The reason we’ve placed the phrase ‘Angela Eagle’s Window’ in quotes is that the damaged window pane was not Angela Eagle’s window pane and never was hers and never will be hers unless Labour plan to assume ownership of the whole building.

As previously explained in several of our blog posts, the broken window was a window to a shared stairwell used collectively by the building’s occupants i.e. the landlord and the Labour Party.

Anti-social behaviour

As if wanting to draw a line under the matter, Wirral Council have since concluded that the incident was nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters and is in their opinion related to anti-social behaviour, and the building lies within what they term an anti-social behaviour hotspot.  This local determination appears to have been reached in consultation with Merseyside Police at the Manor Road station 300 metres from the Sherlock House site, and runs counter to all the bogus, damaging information that appeared in the newspapers and across the broadcast media throughout summer 2016.

For our part, we think it’s unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn’s politically-focussed members would involve themselves in anti-social behaviour and that the most likely cause of the damage is connected to the violent history of the pub situated 25 metres away – the Royal Oak – and the fact that the window directly overlooks a busy, unlit by night footpath commonly used by its customers…

…notwithstanding the extreme, outside possibility which still exists – and which cannot be ruled in or out – and which has now become more likely given the Merseyside Police statement above – that the brick was potentially planted at the scene, the glass was broken by a party insider and the police have been given the runaround.

What next?

Here’s a link to the original FOI request, dated 2nd August 2016.  We have updated the status of the request, inserting answers or disclosures or maintained exemptions – which have now been reconfigured – in red:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/alleged_brick_thrown_through_com

Please confirm the following:

1. Did your officers visit the Sherlock House location to gather evidence? YES

2. What was the physical nature / description / material of the projectile apparently thrown through and breaking the bottom left pane of the 12 shared stairwell windows on the ground floor of the north eastern elevation of Sherlock House on either 11th or 12th July 2016? i.e. was it a brick or a rock or a stone or something else? Please describe. IT WAS A BRICK.  DESCRIPTION OF BRICK NOT PROVIDED.  ALTHOUGH THE DAMAGE TO THE WINDOW APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN ATTRIBUTED BY THE MEDIA TO A BRICK, NO CONCLUSIVE INFORMATION IS HELD THAT THE BRICK (WHICH WAS AT THE SCENE) CAUSED THE DAMAGE.  THIS INFORMATION WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN PROVIDED AT THE TIME OF THE INITIAL RESPONSE IN ORDER TO PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF THE INVESTIGATION.

EXEMPT INFORMATION 30(1) (3) IS MAINTAINED – DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE.  THIS EXEMPTION HAS CHANGED FROM THE PREVIOUS RESPONSE OF EXEMPTION 30(2) INVESTIGATIONS AND PROCEEDINGS BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY.

SECTION 40(2) – EXEMPT PERSONAL INFORMATION – IS NEWLY INTRODUCED TO THIS REQUEST.

3. Do you have in your possession the projectile (brick or rock or stone or something else) that was reported to have been thrown by an unknown person and was later described in several local and national newspapers as ‘a brick’ thrown through a window?

EXEMPT INFORMATION 30(3) INVESTIGATIONS AND PROCEEDINGS BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY

EXEMPT INFORMATION 40(5) DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE – IS NEWLY INTRODUCED TO THIS REQUEST.

4. Was there any evidence to suggest that the constituency office or office window of Angela Eagle MP on the ground floor of the south eastern elevation was subjected to an attack during the same time period?

EXEMPT INFORMATION 30(3) INVESTIGATIONS AND PROCEEDINGS BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY

EXEMPT INFORMATION 40(5) DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE – IS NEWLY INTRODUCED TO THIS REQUEST.

EXEMPT INFORMATION 38(2) DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE. THE POLICE AGAIN ADVISE US TO DO AN INTERNET SEARCH FOR THE WORDS “ANGELA EAGLE OFFICE ATTACK” IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT A PLETHORA OF FALSEHOODS EXIST CLAIMING THAT A STAIRWELL WINDOW IS ANGELA EAGLE’S OFFICE WINDOW.

5. Did you conclude after gathering evidence that the attack dated 11th or 12th July 2016 was confined to the shaired stairwell on the north east elevation of the building, and that the office or office window of Angela Eagle MP was not attacked given the nature of the evidence gathered?

EXEMPT INFORMATION 30(3) INVESTIGATIONS AND PROCEEDINGS BY A PUBLIC AUTHORITY

EXEMPT INFORMATION 40(5) DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE – IS NEWLY INTRODUCED TO THIS REQUEST.

EXEMPT INFORMATION 38(2) DUTY TO CONFIRM OR DENY DOES NOT ARISE. THE POLICE AGAIN ADVISE US TO DO AN INTERNET SEARCH FOR THE WORDS “ANGELA EAGLE OFFICE ATTACK” IN THE FULL KNOWLEDGE THAT A PLETHORA OF FALSEHOODS EXIST CLAIMING THAT A STAIRWELL WINDOW IS ANGELA EAGLE’S OFFICE WINDOW – IS NEWLY INTRODUCED TO THIS REQUEST.

For our part, although the Information Commissioner’s involvement has gleaned further details, we are not happy with the Merseyside Police response…

  • with their chopping and changing of exemptions used to justify non-disclosure
  • with their absurd suggestion that we Google UK newspaper reports laced with lazy  / deliberate inaccuracies rather than ask them to provide the information in the pubic interest
  • with their ongoing refusal to release information, especially given the high level of public interest

…and will be appealing the matter to the First Tier Information Tribunal – as is our right.

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So Phil, You Still Have a BIG Reputation to Defend? jOGon.com

01-07-13-big-report-media-statement

25th November 2016

On 1st July 2013, the date of the above media statement, Wirral Council leader Phil Davies and then Chief Executive Graham Burgess knew it would have been dishonest to claim that only one business had gone under from the now declared total of 49 in receipt of BIG Fund grants.

But claim it they did.

We’ve labelled this ‘dishonesty du jour’ because for a very long time, the same persons constantly and shamelessly fed false reassurance to the public – in meetings, correspondence or in press releases – flaunting the professionalism, competence, thoroughness and honesty of their officers with regard to their dealings with the BIG Fund.

We were told they had access to all council information required to investigate any complaints, the results of which – if officers were doing their jobs properly – will have been shared upwards with their seniors.

Such knowledge, once imparted, will have made the leader, the former CEO and the former Director of Regeneration fully complicit in the ongoing deception.  The key statement at issue in Councillor Phil Davies’ media statement above is as follows.  

phil-davies-is-pleased

This is proof of dishonesty.

Having viewed the list of 49 companies which Nigel Hobro recently prised from the iron grip of “monitoring” officer Surjit Tour – who’d been placed under threat of High Court action – we can now fully appreciate that this media statement trotted out four barefaced lies, whilst withholding evidence of failure:

  • Lie 1 ~ Only one company went bust
  • Lie 2 ~ the companies are still trading
  • Lie 3 ~ the companies are creating jobs
  • Lie 4 ~ the companies are contributing to the local economy

We now know – for certain – the true failure figure was 10 companies i.e. more than a fifth of the total – or ten times more than that declared at the time by Davies.

All these companies went under after receiving public money grants of between £4,000 and £20,000.  Graham Burgess, Kevin Adderley and their courted, feted, celebrated junior officials knew all of this in detail, but still decided to snub all FOI requests with non-existent exemptions, and present an elaborate set of falsehoods to councillors.

Most notably, this was the controlled modus operandi at the infamous Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting of 8th October 2014, chaired by on remand former councillor Jim Crabtree.

Incidentally, this gathering of officers / councillors had to be pressurised into convening by the admirable, good faith efforts of whistleblowers Nigel Hobro and James Griffiths who, knowing the broad extent of council officer crookedness, and in some detail, were not about to give in. Their tenacity on these issues is the stuff of legend.

Even so, weaker individuals amongst us might take solace in the notion that:

‘…this is what politicians and CEOs do, innit?  The more they lie, the higher they climb the greasy pole, so you can’t blame ’em can you?  It’s just a leader and his bezzy being opportunistic and helping themselves by letting slip a few harmless white lies.’

And some people would congratulate the pair for fulfilling expectations, ticking the boxes, discharging their roles and playing true to character.

The problem here is these were NOT harmless white lies.  Far from it.  Millions of pounds of public money was involved and such dishonest conduct, carried on for many years, should have serious consequences.

Attached to the lies is an extended litany of obfuscation, denial, manipulation, evasiveness, minimisation and mendacity.  And true to form with Wirral, all accompanied by the flushing down the toilet of large amounts of your public money … all well-entrenched, all propelled via deceit or incompetence, and all done with a crazed, frantic desire to paper over the cracks, reaching as far back as possible.

In other words, all the standard ingredients that make up any basket case outfit were present.  The Wirral “Abnormals”, not knowing the meaning of ‘accountability’, through their own predictable failure and negligence, had again sent themselves careering headlong towards their destiny: the beckoning void that is “special measures”.

All this originated as a result of the dubious activities and bogus public pronouncements of a long succession of senior movers and shakers, all emboldened because they were newly-protected beneath the glamorous window-dressing – a banner screaming “Award-winning, most-improved council”.

But … exactly how much public money was squandered and lost?  Read on …

jOG on Phil

One company in particular, who received the maximum BIG fund grant of £20,000, and who crashed in June 2011, was New Concept Gaming, latterly “Game Technology” then  Sciatech Limited (dissolved 2012).

They were studiously omitted from the above media statement. But why?  Because hundreds of thousands of pounds of grant and loan money – public money – disappeared very quickly.

New Concept Gaming were the creators of the jOG Wii controller – RRP £24.99 – still available at today’s Amazon Price: New from £1.40 / Used from £0.01.

NCG’s Twitter account lasted just 7 months, tweeting 86 times.

Here’s a long list of 33 New Concept Gaming creditors totalling £822,809.93 dated 18th March 2010.  To quote from the document …

This is the exhibit marked ‘B’ referred to in the affidavit of Brendan Ludden sworn before me this 18th day of March 2010″, signed – S.M.McLeod, Solicitor / Commissioner for Oaths:

new-concept-gaming-creditor-list

Parkin S Booth & Co (Insolvency Practitioners)- New Concept Gaming Ltd – B – Company Creditors

Apologies for the small print here, but the lead creditor at the top of the list, way ahead of all others, is named as “Alliance Fund Managers“, 5th Floor, Cunard Building, Pier Head, Liverpool.

The information provided here was sworn on oath to be truthful and accurate.

The amount owed to AFM is a staggering £625,686.64.

Alliance Fund Managers loaned this huge sum of public cash to New Concept Gaming initially £250,000 in January 2008, and a further £450,000 making up the balance later.

https://www.insidermedia.com/insider/northwest/7438-new-concept-gaming-secures-250000-funding

msif-loan-to-ncg-totalling-700k

Within 2 years NCG were gone, no more.

AFM are also known as Merseyside Special Investment Fund. These are funders of Small to Medium Enterprises and are members of Merseyside’s Local Enterprise Partnership since April 2013, which happily was chaired by … Councillor Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Council.

Further to this, NCG received a £90,321 grant from the North West Regional Development Agency – the exact date of payment is subject to a current FOI request.

So who at Wirral Council decided it would be a good idea to bung NCG a BIG Fund grant of £20,000 in October 2009 on top of a mountain of public money?  More to the point, with the company being cash-replete and recently groaning under the weight of a six figure loan from MSIF, and the five figure grant from NWRDA, how on earth did they…

a. …qualify for more cash  – AND –

b. …fit Graham Burgess’ description of BIG fund businesses i.e. those ‘not in a position to access borrowing or loans through normal channels’? 


On this evidence, New Concept Gaming should NEVER have received a BIG Fund grant.


Personal dishonesty = public servants should be called into question

That goes for every employee at every UK public body, but in the case of senior people like Phil Davies, even more so.

Caveat: we can’t be sure that the information displayed below is totally accurate because the named person hasn’t bothered to update it for around 8 years.

Excerpt from website

phil-davies-websitephil-davies-page-updated-8-years-ago


I am a member of the Employment and Appointments Committee and chair a

number of committees relating to education, i.e. Admissions Forum, School

Organisation Committee, Headteachers and Teachers Joint Consultative

Committee. I also chair the Wirral Learning Partnership, a multi-agency body

focussing on post-16 education and training. I represent the Learning Partnership

on the Wirral Local Strategic Partnership and the Wirral Waterfront Board. 

I am a non-executive director of the following organisations: The Mersey

Partnership; Greater Merseyside Enterprise; the PSL Group (Pentra); The Lauries;

Wirral Multi-cultural Organisation; and the Laird Foundation.

I also represent Wirral Borough Council on the Merseyside Objective 1 Programme

Monitoring Committee and chair a post-2006 European funding lobbying group as

well as the Wirral Pathways (Priority 4) Board.

At ward level I am chair of the Lairdside Partnership, the Callister Youth Club

Management Committee and am a member of the Birkenhead and Tranmere and

Rock Ferry Area Forum. 

I am a governor of Wirral Metropolitan College and three primary schools –

Woodlands, St Werburghs and Gilbrook. 

I am the independent chair of the Greater Merseyside Aimhigher Area Steering Group.


Excerpt from ‘Leader’s Blog’

phil-davies-blog-excerpt

Crucial here is the fact that in 2011 Phil Davies was Cabinet Member for Regeneration, as described here:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseysides-bid-make-birkenhead-world-class-3365510

Regeneration was the department formerly led by Super Director Kevin Adderley, who told the same lies at the Audit and Risk Management Committee of 8th October 2014. This was the department which oversaw the BIG fund programme of business grants.


 

What next?

If your children attend Wirral Met College, the youth centre, or any of the schools mentioned in the excerpt above, given the evidence of Council leader Phil Davies’ dishonesty and the depths he has sunk to over the years, would you really want him to continue in these roles as a chair or a governor, overseeing staff or the running of these establishments, and contributing to decisions that will impact upon your children’s day-to-day wellbeing?

Or for that matter, would you still want a person capable of such dishonesty to be heading up the elected function at your local council?  Where he’ll be making life-changing decisions on behalf of poor, vulnerable and disabled people who will expect him to discharge his statutory obligations honestly, correctly, with sound moral judgment and with their interests at the forefront.

And what of Phil Davies’ much-vaunted 20 pledges, the commitments towards efficiency and better services we keep reading about on the council website, in the newspapers or in Wirral View online?  Are they honestly presented or are we all lining up to be lied to once again?

In fact, given the evidence above…

Is this council leader capable of giving us 20 pledges?

Is this council leader capable of giving us 1 pledge?

Councillor Phil Davies is in an influential position at the very top of the decision-making process on who qualifies for European funding across Merseyside.

But the lengths to which he and his officers have gone to present a dishonest face to the public and to cover up details of the Wirral BIG Fund scandal, means his position is compromised, he should stand down now, and some serious and searching questions need to be raised.

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UPDATED – “Bold, unsubstantiated … defamatory … harassment” but now proven beyond doubt – James Griffiths was right

but

20161122_221922-1

Extract from Private Eye Issue November 2016

22nd November 2016

Three years and seven months ago Surjit Tour, the “Monitoring” Officer at Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council threatened a libel action against James Griffiths, a whistleblower working for Council contractor Enterprise Solutions, for claiming that Wirral Council’s Director of Regeneration Kevin Adderley had lied to him along the lines “None of the companies who received BIG Fund grants (£4,000 to £20,000 via Enterprise Solutions) had gone bust”.

Last week it was discovered that Kevin Adderley had indeed lied and that Lockwood Engineering had already gone bust two months before he met James.

Furthermore, a total of TEN of these businesses had gone under by the time a public council meeting was reluctantly forced to discuss the issues on 8th October 2014.

But at this meeting Kevin Adderley lied again, as did Chief Executive Graham Burgess, all under the knowing, not so watchful eye of “Monitoring” Officer Surjit Tour.

Nigel Hobro, a fellow whistle-blower commented: “During our complaint, Council Leader Phil Davies threatened to sue me.  We now know that this, along with Surjit Tour’s letter to James threatening libel, was grounded in rank dishonesty. In truth they had no reputation to defend and notwithstanding the illegality of any such action, they should never have threatened to sue or bring a libel action on this basis.”

“I take a certain grim satisfaction in the knowledge that Burgess’, Adderley’s and Tour’s dishonesty is now out in the open. But it is a miserable story and it was one of the darkest periods of my career.”

Here are Surjit Tour’s menacing words to good faith whistleblower James back in April 2013:

 

screenshot_2016-11-22-22-47-02-1

screenshot_2016-11-22-22-47-14-1

screenshot_2016-11-22-22-47-26-1

We fervently hope that Wirral council employees – junior, middle ranking, senior, and all 66 councillors are astute enough to read these pages and educate themselves.

In the near future we plan to act in the public interest by “blowing the lid off” what senior Wirral officials have been insisting is a “most improved council”.

If CEO Eric Robinson has not been told about the gravity of what’s been going on behind the scenes, OR if he hasn’t troubled himself to find out, OR if he does know but has gone along with the deception, then the buck stops with him and of course Council leader Phil Davies – who we believe does know and has known for a very long time.

More to follow soon.

 

the-football-shirt

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The BIG Fund big lie – in truth, 10 Companies went bust

17th November 2016

In this post from 14th November 2016 referring to an earlier October 2014 council meeting, we described how then Wirral CEO Graham Burgess and then Director of Regeneration Kevin Adderley had persuaded a committee of councillors that 2 or 3 companies at the most had gone bust from the total of 49 who’d received BIG Fund European public money grants of between £4,000 and £20,000.

Messrs Burgess and Adderley summarised positively in glowing terms, via bright-eyed, shining countenances, saying this was a good performance during a recession and that council officers involved were squeaky clean.  We paraphrase, but the thrust of it was general bilge and bluster along those lines.

We summarised by stating this was clearly not true, that at least 7 companies went under, and that the council had always had access to the information now revealing that 10 companies – not 7 – had gone into liquidation prior to the crucial meeting of 8th October 2014, where the BIG lies were trotted out one after the other before assembled officials.

The Wirral public had never had access to the crucial information because the council would not release it.

This enabled a barrage of public-facing lies to be prepared and developed behind the scenes and to become protected under a shield of stubborn non-co-operation, all backed up by elaborate but non-existent ‘exemptions’ – to be wheeled out and erected against an ever growing list of righteous and reasonable public enquiry.

Conservative Councillor John Hale was so impressed with Graham Burgess’ grand, sweeping eulogies on the night of the committee that the poor chap became fully-convinced, and was not even prepared to entertain the tiniest suggestion that council officers had been dishonest, incompetent or actively corrupt.

Hale luxuriated in his own sage words, took plenty of time (in hindsight wasted) to pour forth in sombre tones, and to heap huge praise upon Wirral officers’ conduct, all the while blissfully digging a huge, yawning chasm for himself and his reputation as ‘a time-served scrutineer’.

You have to wonder whether, behind their appreciative and supportive expressions, the onlooking guilty officers were musing, “Good God, what a prize plonker we’ve got under our full control here.”

Hale’s contribution appears here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnF4S3XMLa4&index=8&list=PLLEv4URK6QbdTKArDe6tW_befB2TFvbyI starting at 20:34.

The depth of this deception eventually became clear to everybody including Councillor Hale last week when the Wirral fortress’ occupants were dragged kicking and screaming, before being forced into lowering the drawbridge by the Information Commissioner.

Luckily for us the public, the broader and very much uglier extent of their dishonesty became exposed for the first time – when the list of 49 made its first public appearance.

Since our last post, BIG Fund whistleblower and former WirralBiz employee Nigel Hobro has spoken out bravely and in public on Wirral Leaks, declaring that a total of 10 companies went under – and much more besides – which will always have been known to Wirral officers assuming they were doing their jobs correctly.  We’re now left to assume they’d not been living up to Graham Burgess’ dazzling estimations, and instead were:

  • serially and extensively incompetent or;
  • serially and extensively dishonest or;
  • both

We’d helpfully suggest the latter, and give further assistance by saying no other possible scenarios exist.

Stand by for the next instalment, where we’ll undertake the sordid and unpleasant task of taking a lump hammer to the glossy, shining Wirral patina.

Once we’ve smashed our way through that, with pegs on noses, we’ll be digging down inch by inch into the stinking, black murk of what lies beneath.

 

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#Brickgate / Angela Eagle Broken Stairwell Window is now with the Information Commissioner’s Office

For those coming fresh to the subject, the following is a complete list in chronological order of all #Brickgate related posts we’ve made since the Angela Eagle / smashed stairwell window incident occurred at Sherlock House, Wallasey, on 12th July 2016.

The reason for our persistence with this issue is we strongly believe the UK public were manipulated and deceived by politicians and their aides in conjunction with sections of the mainstream media and it’s vital to uncover the real facts behind it.

Jeremy Corbyn won his second leadership ballot, so the poll wasn’t affected despite the inaccuracies published in 12+ national newspapers and the associated ongoing wayward radio and TV coverage.

1.  Private Eye reminds us of Angela Eagle’s highly dubious origins.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/private-eye-reminds-us-of-angela-eagles-highly-dubious-origins/

2.  Brickgate.  Angela Eagle’s office window was not broken.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/17/brickgate-angela-eagles-office-window-was-not-broken/

3.  Eagle has crashed.  But who do Wirral Council support for leader?

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/23/eagle-has-crashed-but-who-do-wirral-council-support-for-leader/

4.  Brickgate.  A story that won’t go away.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/24/brickgate-a-story-that-wont-go-away/

5.  Private Eye 788.  More news on Angela Eagle’s dodgy past.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/27/private-eye-788-more-news-on-angela-eagles-dodgy-past/

 6.  Writer of gushing fact free Guardian interview with Angela Eagle meets facts with innuendo.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/07/30/writer-of-gushing-fact-free-guardian-interview-with-angela-eagle-meets-facts-with-innuendo/

7.  Brickgate.  Angela Eagle and The Guardian – a further update and probably not the last.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/brickgate-angela-eagle-and-the-guardian-a-further-update-and-probably-not-the-last/

8.  Brickgate.  Angela Eagle MP.  Freedom of Information request to Merseyside Police.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/brickgate-angela-eagle-mp-freedom-of-information-request-to-merseyside-police/

9.  Brickgate.  Reports of attempted break-in at Polish off-license on Manor Road, opposite Angela Eagle’s office.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/brickgate-reports-of-attempted-break-in-at-polish-off-licence-on-manor-road-opposite-angela-eagles-office/

10.  Wallasey Branch of Constituency Labour Party timeline to Wallasey CLP suspension.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/03/wallasey-branch-of-constituency-labour-party-timeline-to-wallasey-clp-suspension/

11.  Angela Eagle supporters have been discovered telling lies about Wallasey CLP Vice Chair Paul Davies.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/angela-eagle-supporters-have-been-discovered-telling-lies-about-wallasey-clp-vice-chair-paul-davies/

12.  Angela Eagle’s 17 whistleblowers – the Eagle 17 – do they qualify under PIDA?

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/07/angela-eagles-17-whistleblowers-the-eagle-17-do-they-qualify-under-pida/

13.  Brickgate FOI request.  A response is in from Merseyside Police.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/brickgate-foi-request-a-response-is-in-from-merseyside-police/

14.  Windows for Dummies.  August 2016.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/windows-for-dummies-august-2016/

15.  Brickgate.  Angela Eagle broken stairwell window.  Our complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/brickgate-angela-eagle-broken-stairwell-window-our-complaint-to-the-independent-press-standards-organisation/

16.  Brickgate.  Angela Eagle.  Merseyside Police change their position on Freedom of Information request.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/09/11/brickgate-angela-eagle-merseyside-police-change-their-position-on-freedom-of-information-request/

17.  False flag whistleblowing – a guide – Part One, starring Angela Eagle.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/10/13/false-flag-whistleblowing-a-guide-part-one-starring-angela-eagle/

18.  Wallasey CLP news.  Does the malicious behaviour of an Angela Eagle supporter equate to gross misconduct?

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/wallasey-clp-news-does-the-malicious-behaviour-of-an-angela-eagle-supporter-equate-to-gross-misconduct/

19.  Wallasey Momentum’s response to Labour NEC Report.  Alleged homophobia towards

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/wallasey-momentums-response-to-labour-nec-report-alleged-homophobia-towards-angela-eagle/

20.  Wallasey Constituency Labour Party press release.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/wallasey-constituency-labour-party-press-release/

21.  Update.  Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy thinks brickgate was corbyn supporters.  Wirral Labour Council think it was antisocial behaviour.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/update-police-and-crime-commissioner-jane-kennedy-thinks-brickgate-was-corbyn-supporters-wirral-labour-council-think-it-was-anti-social-behaviour/

22.  Wallasey Constituency Labour Party.  Personal critique by Vice Chair Paul Davies.

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2016/11/11/wallasey-constituency-labour-party-personal-critique-by-vice-chair-paul-davies/

 


Freedom of Information request placed on 2nd August 2016

foi-request-about-brickgate

The only question to be answered in full was the first one, where the response was a curt “Yes”.

Next, there was some to-ing and fro-ing which included a shifting of the police’s position, but in the end everything else was largely swept up and hidden behind a padlocked door labelled “Section 30 Exclusion”.  This is the exclusion – perfectly understandable – where a data controller refuses to oblige because doing so may compromise or damage an ongoing investigation.

However, this investigation came to a close after a matter of weeks, with no arrests being made, yet Merseyside Police’s position remains the same.  They’re still withholding the info.

We appealed to the ICO as is our right and now we’re waiting for them to set the wheels in motion, contact the police and check whether their position remains unaltered.

If it does, we will be arguing the case to the ICO for disclosure in an attempt to convince them that withholding is no longer justified given the fruitless investigation, now ended, and the large level of public interest. Here, the public interest being concerned with the fact that the public would benefit by the release of the information, whatever that happens to be.

If the ICO agree with the police position, we will do some further research and possibly take the case to the First Tier Information Tribunal.

 



Guardian journalist Ewen Macaskill wrote a lengthy article some weeks back entitled “Labour and Liverpool: the city that reveals the cracks in the party”.

Macaskill made some direct enquiries around the circumstances regarding the brick.  We found it intriguing that the apparent sole source of the brick story was a man called Imran Ahmed, who was acting as communications person to the Angela Eagle leadership bid at the time of the incident.  He later took the precaution of banning staff working at Sherlock House from talking to the media, removing their freedom of speech.

imran-ahmed-on-twitter

Here’s a relevant excerpt from the article:

excerpt-from-ewen-macaskill-brick-and-merseyside-article

Given the circumstances described above, there’s a distinct possibility that the police may not have found a brick or projectile when they turned up and do not / never did have one in their possession.  It won’t particularly surprise us if this is one of the outcomes of any forthcoming First Tier Information Tribunal ruling.

Neither will it surprise us if Imran Ahmed becomes extremely difficult to contact (for a professional communications person) should this happen.

 


It’s still early days but here are the emails that have been exchanged so far between Wirral In It Together and the Information Commissioner’s Office:

From: <casework@ico.org.uk>
Date: Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 12:04 PM
Subject: Complaint against Merseyside Police[Ref. FS50646656]
To: Paul Cardin

1 November 2016

Case Reference Number FS50646656

Mr Cardin

I am writing to advise you that I have been allocated your complaint against Merseyside Police to investigate. However, before I can take this matter any further I need some information from you in support of your complaint.
 
Before I can progress your case please will you also provide your grounds of complaint, i.e. explain what you want me to investigate and why you disagree with Merseyside Police’s position.
 
Once I have received the above information I will write to you again to advise how your complaint will be addressed.
 
If you have any queries you are welcome to email me at: casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk (please ensure that you quote the above case reference in the subject line) or you can telephone me on 01625 545712. Please note that I work from home on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so cannot be contacted by telephone on these days, however, you will be able to leave me a voice mail message and I will contact you when I am in the office. Alternatively, I can call you from home if you provide a convenient time – please note that I have a withheld number as it is my personal phone line and my usual working hours are from 7.00am until 3.00pm.
 
Please also note that I do not work on Fridays.
 
Regards
Carolyn Howes
Senior Case Officer



Our response:

From: Paul Cardin
Date: Tue, Nov 8, 2016 at 11:47 PM
Subject: Re: Complaint against Merseyside Police[Ref. FS50646656]
To: casework@ico.org.uk

Case Reference Number FS50646656

Dear Carolyn,
Thank you for your email.
There is a high level of public interest in respect of the report of criminal damage at premises known as Sherlock House, where the constituency office of Angela Eagle MP is situated. The public interest has been heightened by political events and extensive media reporting, including reports related to the incident which is the subject of this application.
I am aware that the ‘public interest’ is not strictly speaking ‘what interests the public’ and that it is more closely defined as ‘what benefits the public’.
I believe when balancing the competing interests, that the public interest in disclosing this information is greater than the public interest in continuing to apply the exemption and continuing to withhold the information.
It would benefit the public, whose interest has been alerted to this event, if as much information as possible is now released into the public domain now that it is safe to do so.  This would have the effect of confirming some of the facts and refuting some of the exaggerations and falsehoods that have been published in the national print media where they may occasion harm to accurate reporting, the reputation of the press, the public good and are now extremely difficult to challenge.
Prime amongst the inaccuracies are the headlines claiming “Angela Eagle’s office window was attacked / smashed / broken” or “Angela Eagle’s constituency office was attacked”.  Angela Eagle’s actual constituency office and actual windows therein were not evidently attacked.  This is the subject of my FOI questions 4 and 5.
Following the incident, I made a failed complaint regarding the subject matter of this FOI request to press regulator IPSO which referred to inaccurate information in The Daily Telegraph.  I believe this is highly relevant to my Freedom of Information request and I am prepared to forward the details of this complaint upon request.
It has never been confirmed or denied by the police that a projectile or ‘brick’ was found at Sherlock House when they attended the incident – which occurred between 5 pm on the 11th July 2016 and 9 am on the 12th July 2016.
The investigation has now been closed for some time and nobody has been apprehended or arrested.  I therefore believe that there are no grounds for Merseyside Police to use Section 30 (1) (2) (3) to continue to withhold the information I have requested in questions 2 through to 5.  There will be no damage occasioned to future policing because the information I have requested is benign and neither significant nor sensitive in nature.
I should add that Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens contacted the data controller’s [Merseyside Police] press office and was freely informed that the damaged window was not that of Ms Eagle’s office but of a shaired stairwell:
Please investigate fully my questions 2 to 5 as follows, where the information requested has been withheld subject to Section 30 (1) (2) and (3):

2. What was the physical nature / description / material of the projectile apparently thrown through and breaking the bottom left pane of the 12 shared stairwell windows on the ground floor of the north eastern elevation of Sherlock House on either 11th or 12th July 2016? i.e. was it a brick or a rock or a stone or something else? Please describe.

3. Do you have in your possession the projectile (brick or rock or stone or something else) that was reported to have been thrown by an unknown person and was later described in several local and national newspapers as ‘a brick’ thrown through a window?

4. Was there any evidence to suggest that the constituency office or office window of Angela Eagle MP on the ground floor of the south eastern elevation was subjected to an attack during the same time period?

5. Did you conclude after gathering evidence that the attack dated 11th or 12th July 2016 was confined to the shaired stairwell on the north east elevation of the building, and that the office or office window of Angela Eagle MP was not attacked given the nature of the evidence gathered?

Many thanks,

Paul Cardin


 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

BIG Fund. Wirral Council’s former CEO and Super Director Bear False Witness to Councillors (Video)

crabtree-chair-of-armc-in-october-2014

Audit & Risk Management Committee of 8th October 2014.  A turning point in the fortunes of this committee.  Link to news of former Councillor Crabtree’s court case.


We believe the series of events analysed here may amount to cases of malfeasance in a public office (criminal behaviour) by two very senior officials at Wirral Council;

  • then CEO Graham Burgess
  • then Super Director of Regeneration Kevin Adderley

Both have since departed their posts.

It is reasonable to suggest that following this occurrence, the Wirral Council Audit and Risk Management Committee process became rapidly compromised and in hindsight is neither capable nor qualified to perform its essential and critically important functions of audit and scrutiny.

The senior officers defending their corner have long appeared to display guilty knowledge coupled with highly-suspect, defensive behaviour when faced with justifying, responding to or dealing with BIG Fund issues, i.e. the subject matter of this post.  This refers to senior officers’ ongoing treatment of serious and detailed concerns involving suspect processes and large sums of public money, originally raised by two whistleblowers, Nigel Hobro and James Griffiths in the spring of 2011.

Blank refusals, obfuscation, and delay have been prominent and ever-present features of the council position ever since the matter was first raised back in April 2011 by Mr Hobro. Responses to Freedom of Information requests have been characterised by tardy, poorly-judged, misleading answers, which also point to a level of incompetence / misrepresentation / evasiveness on the part of Surjit Tour, Head of Legal Services and also some members of his department.

Both whistleblowers were not Wirral Council employees, which makes this case differ somewhat from others, however the principles are the same.  They were both employed by Enterprise Solutions North West Ltd, a long-term council business partner, trading as “WirralBiz”.

Both whistleblowers are extremely knowledgeable, qualified accountants who became concerned not just by the laissez faire, coasting, irresponsible attitude of senior and junior colleagues at WirralBiz, but by worrying evidence, mounting day-by-day, that all was not well, systems and processes were inadequate and a large percentage of public money was ‘going missing’ or becoming routinely and mysteriously unaccounted for.


The BIG Fund (Business Investment Grant Fund).

The BIG Fund was a scheme set up by central government which made available EU sourced public money grants of between £4,000 and £20,000 to qualifying businesses in the Wirral area.  The scheme’s main stated purposes were job creation and safeguarding of existing jobs and it was engaged in and undertaken by a number of other north west councils.

In October 2009, Enterprise Solutions North West, trading as WirralBiz, were appointed by Wirral Council as BIG Fund business advocate following a points-based procurement process.  This had also attracted interest from a number of other businesses who’d tendered their own bids – in direct competition with the WirralBiz bid – for the position of business advocate.

After WirralBiz came out top, questions were raised regarding their suitability for the role, when it became apparent that they did not seem to possess the experience nor the qualifications necessary to perform the business advocate function.

But the scheme went ahead regardless.

Strict conditions had been laid down for Wirral-based businesses who applied for BIG Fund grants.  After being given permission to inspect initially four, later six files however, Mr Hobro noticed that large public money grants were being made available to businesses who did not appear to fit the bill – and even to some whose accounts details strongly suggested that they were on the brink of going bust.

Lockwood Engineering is a case in point.  It’s on the public record that this company, whose grant application was approved in May 2010, went out of business, lost control and stopped trading (i.e. a process of liquidation began) on 4th May 2011.

Once this process had begun, there was no way back:

lockwood-engineering-appointment-of-a-voluntary-liquidator


Whistleblowing

On 5th July 2011, James Griffiths approached Kevin Adderley and Paula Basnett as a whistleblower and after being offered a job, was assured by Kevin Adderley “No BIG Fund recipient has gone bust.”

We can see this was clearly false, knowing as we do that Lockwood Engineering had gone bust two months earlier.

Mr Hobro began to place Freedom of Information requests with Wirral Council in October 2012.  As stated previously, he was met square on by a ‘fortress mentality’ – with the Wirral drawbridge firmly raised in an arrogant gesture of non-co-operation.  This defensive mindset continued and was not relaxed for a moment, particularly with regard to the more difficult and probing enquiries.

The only occasions when the council was prepared to lower its defences and comply were when the Information Commissioner stepped in, listing their concerns, and threatening the council with potential contempt of court proceedings.  These forced Surjit Tour to act counter-intuitively, i.e. in the public interest, as opposed to what had become the Wirral ‘ab-norm’, or the selfish interests of himself and his officers.

And bringing us bang up to date, today’s blog-post is one of these occasions.

Mr Hobro placed the following FOI request on 11th November 2015, almost exactly a year ago.  Then he waited, and waited, and waited…

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/the_big_fund_3

We won’t trot out the ins  and outs, tos and fros or ups and downs and will jump to the very end, which arrived about three days ago.

The Information Commissioner had finally swept Surjit Tour’s desperate, irrelevant, nonsensical exclusions about ‘confidentiality’ to one side and issued the Council with an ultimatum:  release the information or we will refer the matter to the High Court.

Here is that information, prised out of Wirral Council five years on, with some explanatory annotations:

wirral-council-big-fund-recipients-nigel-hobro-7th-nov-2016


Former Wirral CEO Graham Burgess – The Falsehood

Link to Youtube Video of Part 8 of Audit Committee Meeting of 8th October 2014

Just as a sort of precursor to the statement in question, here’s Graham Burgess limbering up, getting into his stride and addressing the Chair and fellow councillors at 3 minutes and 55 seconds:

To ensure you should be satisfied that this information is accurate and has been checked robustly, we have a number of things……………

A few minutes later, Mr Burgess, in the presence of his senior investigating officers then went on to commit what looks like his own act of malfeasance in a public office.  This occurred with no intervention from these fellow senior officers, sat to his right, who no doubt during their robust enquiries had seen the above list of 49 companies (withheld from the public for a whole year) including 7 companies in liquidation, yet sat mute, appearing to find no fault with the following statement:

burgess-lie

Graham Burgess bears false witness to councillors, which is not corrected by officers whom in Graham Burgess’ own words had ‘checked robustly’ the information

 


Former Wirral Super Director of Regeneration Kevin Adderley – The Falsehood

Similarly, Kevin Adderley, Super Director of Regeneration:

adderley-lie

Kevin Adderley bears false witness to councillors, which is not corrected by officers whom in Graham Burgess’ own words had ‘checked robustly’ the information

 


In summary, it’s necessary to present a couple of possible scenarios.  It’s unlikely that any other stark variations exist:

Scenario A

Graham Burgess and Kevin Adderley were kept in the dark about the 7 companies who’d gone under and were fed false information by persons unknown.  As they were simply ‘parroting’ what had been placed in front of them, and were therefore not fully complicit, their offence, if there was one, is mitigated.  However, this is serious stuff. If we were the CEO or the Director of Regeneration, we carry weighty responsibilities.  We would not allow ourselves to be exploited in this manner and, armed with the list, would personally (and very simply) research the Companies House website just to safeguard our positions and to double check the veracity of the information given to us to present, following our professional staff’s ‘robust’ investigations.

Scenario B

Graham Burgess and Kevin Adderley knew what they were presenting to councillors was false information, but went ahead regardless, and relied upon Surjit Tour and his legal department to find exclusions within the Freedom of Information Act to prevent Nigel Hobro and other members of the public from accessing the full information held within the list of 49 companies.

Although Mr Hobro knew the identities of some of the companies, he didn’t possess the full list.  This factor was what protected the body corporate in its mendacity, until time eventually ran out.

Postscript

Since receiving the full list, Mr Hobro has made a further Freedom of Information request of Wirral Council, lodged today.  We will reproduce it below in its entirety, without further comment.

Suffice to say, there is more disquieting news – including the full content of similar, dishonest statements by Council Leader Phil Davies – to follow…

foi-request-of-10th-november-2016-re-request-fs50620758

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EXCLUSIVE – Wallasey CLP Response to Labour Party Report. Personal Critique by Vice Chair Paul Davies

wallasey-labour-party-equality-socialism-banner

Labour Party  Report 

Wallasey CLP 

DP/82/16

 A Critique of the NEC Report

Paul Davies

November 2016

 

(The salient parts of the report have been put into  bold type and then commented on. Supporting documentation is appended. My comments are in italics. A more comprehensive 102 page response has been submitted to the labour party)  

page-one-of-paul-davies-november-critique

 

(4) It is not true that most meetings started in this way. The issue regarding the rules was that the Wallasey CLP never provided a copy of their rules to any member and the Secretary said that none existed that she could find. Despite this the Chair and Secretary would from time to time quote the non-existent rules. Model rules are provided by the Labour Party and the CLP just needs to delete a few options and insert some words into blank spaces.

 

The Secretary had been asked to provide the rules in order to avoid confusion (appended)

 

(5) There is no explanation given here as to what the problem is with members submitting motions to political meeting. No examples are offered of problem motions or scripted questions.

 

(6) At the Annual General Meeting the outgoing officers (both Councillors and experienced at the way such meetings are run) were supposed to make their annual reports which would have been the ideal opportunity to point out any issues over the preceding 12 months. They did not make any Report and the first time they mentioned the issues referred to in this Report was to the Press after the new officers were elected and after Angela Eagle launched her leadership bid without the support of the new officers.

 

The new officers stood for office because we felt the meetings were badly run but not because they were as described in this Report.

 

Immediately following election the new officers produced a code of conduct for members attending meetings (appended).  This was known to the Labour Part prior to the writing of the Report but not mentioned in the Report.  

 


  1. Campaigns against Labour Council

A small, but vociferous, group of new Labour members have engaged in a campaign against the Labour council, and have called for the deselection of any councillors who refuse to set illegal budgets. (7)  It was felt by some that these people only wanted to criticise the Party rather than support it. This includes motions to meetings (8), social media activity, and a Labour leaflet in one ward designed  (but not distributed)  (9) criticising the Labour council. Leaflets for 2016 were delayed significantly (10) in some areas because those involved could not agree on the message. Councillors expect that they will be deselected in the coming few years (11), based on the rhetoric that they have become familiar with in Wallasey.

 

(7) None of this ever happened. If it had, minutes of meetings would record it. No minutes recording this are referred to in this Report. No date is offered as to when this supposedly occurred.

 

This is entered into the Report to insinuate there is some link with Militant Tendency in Liverpool during the 80s.  It did appear as though a few of the Councillors and long standing members were paranoid and suspicious of all new members. They could not understand why any member would question a Councillor or MP about what they were doing. They seemed upset at the idea of members questioning Councillors about Budget Decisions or the MP about bombing in Syria.

 

(8) I have never seen any such motion. If one existed I would have thought it would have been reprinted in the Report or appended. The only motion re the Council Budget called for a legal budget. (appended)

 

(9) There is no explanation as to who designed the leaflet or what was in it. Surely a copy could have been appended. I any event what is the relevance of a draft leaflet that was never used?

 

(10) In which Wards were leaflets delayed? The Candidates have an Agent and it is the Agent plus Branch Officers who design leaflets. Mont leaflets were centrally produced by the Local Campaign Forum and/or the Labour Group.

 

(11) There is no evidence of this and I never heard of any such campaign. This Paranoia on the part of some councillors however may well explain why some are seeking the suspension of the CLP.


  1. AGM

The CLP holds most meetings as All-Member Meetings, but the AGM is a delegate body.

Tensions were raised from the beginning of the meeting, as the meeting room was too small for all attendees. It became apparent that there were more people present than were delegated.

The investigation heard differing explanations of the confusion over delegations.(12) Some felt that the delegate list was inaccurate, whilst others felt that one part of a delegate list was falsified. The Chair and Secretary ruled that only those invited to the meeting as delegates could stay in the meeting.

It was reported by all sides that there was much frustration and confusion in the room, for approximately 30 minutes. Some reported that tensions were raised and the atmosphere was febrile and increasingly frightening. It has been reported by several respondents that one member loudly threatened physical violence to another member during this period (13). Whilst it is unlikely that this threat would have been carried through, this created a frightening atmosphere, particularly for the older and younger members, who felt vulnerable.

When a vote was called on a proposal to postpone the meeting, it was reported that some members (14) voted to continue the meeting ‘and get it over with as they felt that they would never return to another Labour meeting after those events.

 

(12) This is a gross exaggeration of what actually happened and the minutes of the meeting have been provided to the Labour Party. These explain how the confusion occurred. It was a direct result of Wallasey CLP not publishing any rules.

 

Exaggeration or not, this part of the meeting was before the election of the new officers and it is accepted that after we were elected the meeting ran smoothly. The Labour Party know that the people making complaints about the way the first part of the meeting was run are the same people who ran it!

 

The model rules state that Union delegates would have had to have paid their affiliation fees paid by the end of 2015 if they are to be entitled to attend the 2016 AGM. Any new branches that affiliated during 2016 could not send their delegates to the 2016 AGM  (but would be able to in 2017) but nobody from Wallasey CLP told them that so some new delegates turned up believing they were entitled to attend.

 

Even at the meeting neither the Secretary nor Chair explained the rules to the meeting but just kept repeating “if you are not on our list you will have to leave”

 

The Labour Party knew this   before they prepared this Report and they also knew that the new officers immediately drew up a document to prevent the shambles at the start of this AGM ever being repeated. (appended)

 

 (13) It would have assisted the NEC if the Report had mentioned that this refers to an incident when a female delegate was pleading with the Chair to allow her son to remain  in the meeting if only as a non voting observer. He had been voted in as a Youth Delegate  to the CLP from Leasowe Branch but was “not on the list” so being asked to leave.

 

While she was speaking on behalf of her son the largest male in the room (who happened to be the brother of the Councillor Chairing the first part of the meeting) sitting few rows back  was heckling her in a manner that some say was intimidating. She turned to him and said either “shut your mouth you” or “shut your mouth you or I’ll shut it for you” (people present have differing versions)

 

Not particularly pleasant but not seriously threatening and just a flash in the pan. The Chair did not even think it worth bringing the meeting to order and the meeting then proceeded in good humour.

 

The business of the AGM was conducted relatively smoothly, although there were few reports

from Officers. (15)

 

(15) These same officers two weeks later went on TV and in the papers saying that meetings had been awful during the year with bad behaviour from members. It was at this stage of the AGM under Officers Reports that they should have reported on any problems faced in the previous 12 months. They did not because there were none.

 

At the end of the meeting the new Chair appeared to agree to a debate on a motion that was ruled out of order at the beginning of the AGM.  This is subject to contrary accounts. (16) Some felt that the meeting was formally closed, so that the motion could be taken afterwards. Some felt that the motion wasn’t taken, but a debate was held on the same subject and a ‘proposal’ on the same subject was taken from the floor. It is clear that some members left (17) when the business of the AGM was finished, before this item. It is also clear that some older members were confused about the content of the motion or proposal, and did not understand what they were voting on. Amid this confusion, it was decided that the CLP would formally send Angela Eagle a letter. This letter contributed to the raised tensions that then followed. (18)

 

(16) This is not quite true. On the day of the AGM two Labour MPs had triggered the Leadership Challenge to Jeremy Corbyn. A member approached the Secretary and Chair before the meeting started and asked for a motion on this to be taken as an emergency. This member was told that it could not be taken and she did not challenge this nor did the Chair rule on it  once the meeting started.

The last item on the agenda was MPs Report  and the same member raised the issue then with the newly elected chair asking for her meeting to be accepted for debate. The outgoing Secretary insisted that according to the (non existent) rules no motions could be taken. Eventually it was agreed that Angela Eagle should be made aware of the sentiments of the meeting by way of a letter (had she been in attendance to give her report it could have been discussed with her face to face but she had tendered her apologies)

A draft copy of the AGM minutes which explains all this was sent to the Labour Party (appended).

 

 

(17) Only one member left and gave her apologies for doing so, citing childcare responsibilities

(18)The letter sent to Angela Eagle was polite and not controversial at the time (appended). That is why only around 5 members voted against it being said. Most of those have since been in the media making allegations about the CLP.  

A copy was in the possession of the Labour Party but they did not include it in the Report. It asked her to continue supporting Jeremy Corbyn and received support of the vast majority of those at the meeting.

 

It only became controversial 3 days later when Angela Eagle resigned from the Shadow Cabinet so putting her in conflict with the wishes of the meeting.

 

At the same time as the suspension of the CLP, the CLP Secretary sent all members a motion she had received from a branch, regarding the allegations about the CLP, naming some members explicitly. Other motions had been sent to the CLP, including one in support of Angela Eagle, but only the one motion was distributed. Unfortunately this was a confusing time in the CLP and the new Secretary was establishing a new email address. The one motion that was sent was felt by some to be attacking some members specifically.

 

(19) This is untrue and the Labour Party knows it to be untrue as the Secretary acted on the advice of the North West office of the Labour Party over this matter. There were email exchanges between them. Ample evidence that this is untrue has been provided. All 4 motions received were circulated.


  1. Allegations of homophobia

The investigation has found that some members have truthfully claimed that homophobic instances occurred during the AGM. Others truthfully said that they were not aware of those instances. It is possible for the events to have occurred without the knowledge of all members.  The allegations are not that the CLP is institutionally homophobic or that members were aware of homophobia but took no action, but are specific to individuals.  (20)These allegations will be reported to the next meeting of the Disputes Panel regarding individual disciplinary action. Some members felt that these allegations affected the reputation of all members present. Others felt that the angry and public denials of the claims led to some members feeling intimidated about coming forward to address their concerns.

 

(20) To those who were present this is very surprising and it is hard to believe that in such a small room (24 foot by 18 foot) anyone would be able to indulge in such disgraceful behaviour without just about everyone witnessing it especially as several individuals went to the media stating that the homophobic abuse was throughout the meeting.

 

This Report also suggests that more than one person was responsible as it refers to individuals.

 

The Report fails to mention why no one at the meeting complained about the alleged behaviour at the meeting but waited for 2 weeks before doing so in the press (appended). There were 5 Councillors and 4 full time Union Officers the attendees as well as several gay members. The newly elected Cahir and Secretary have Gay children and have always been active in campaigning for Gay rights.

 

This is an allegation of criminal activity. The Report fails to mention that as soon as the new Wallasey Officers heard about this via press reports they consulted with the Police and compiled a 6 page report calling for an Investigation and any evidence reported to the Police (appended) 

 

The Labour Party has failed to explain why it is failing in its Civic Duty and ignoring its own procedures by not doing so.


  1. Abuse

Over the summer there has been a high level of inter-member abuse in Wallasey. Members are angry about the action taken, and they were angry about the leadership election. This has resulted in genuine fear and intimidation of a small number of other members. (21) This creates an environment in which some members are fearful to take part in the Party or raise their voice about any issue, as they see that those that do are subject to abuse. This culture is toxic and it is self-perpetuating.

 

One member in particular has endured a significant level of personal abuse. (22) A hashtag was created to encourage people to ‘shame’ him publicly and his home address and personal details were published online. It is likely that this had a substantial detrimental impact on the member’s family. A website appears to have engaged in a course of intimidating behaviour to this member. There have been calls for members to be disciplined if they can’t publically substantiate the complaints. (23) This only perpetuates the intimidation. Instead of supporting those that are scared, members have been sent hand-delivered letters of condemnation.

 

(21)This is not recognised as reality by me if it is suggested that Labour Party members were responsible for this. There have been no meetings of Wallasey CLP over the summer for people to be abusive at even if they wanted to be.

(22)The Labour Party has not provided any evidence of such abuse being perpetrated by Labour Members, nor does this paragraph actually suggest that it has.

(23) I have not heard any such calls and no evidence has been offered of such calls

 

A small number of members held a public meeting to discuss their concerns about the suspension of Wallasey CLP. The public meeting explicitly named some members. Some leaflets promoting this were distributed specifically to the houses of Party members, including brand new members. The Party received complaints about a breach of data protection in what appeared to be an abuse of recent membership lists. (24) One member was personally criticised for this. This member is aggrieved that complaints claimed he was distributing leaflets when he was not present. (25) It is not possible to establish with certainty whether Party membership lists were used to promote this meeting.

 

 

(24) Wirral TUC called a meeting for Labour members and supporters. It was publicised in the press,

 by way of 10,000 leaflets and on Social Media. 400 people turned up. The only members mentioned by name at the meeting were those who had been on TV and so put themselves in the public arena.

3 members complained that they were the only ones in their street to get the leaflet  and that they had seen me delivering the leaflets making unauthorised use of Labour Party Data (appended). If true that could have led to my expulsion from the Labour Party.

 

 (25) This is an oblique reference to the fact that the 3  Angela Eagle supporters gave a false statement to the Labour Party regarding alleged activities myself.  Unfortunately for them, but lucky for me, I was in London the day they say they saw me in Wallasey and the Labour Party given evidence of this which they omit from the Report (appended). The Labour Party has not taken any action against those making the false statement or even referred to it in the Report


6. Campaign against Angela Eagle

It’s highly likely that the brick thrown through the window of Angela Eagle’s office was related to her leadership challenge. The position of the window made it very unlikely that this was a random passer-by. (26)The window was directly between two Labour offices. Untrue rumours were subsequently spread that the building was occupied by many companies and the window was in an unrelated stairwell. This was based on a Companies House search which found that the landlord had a number of companies registered there; in fact the only other occupant is the landlord on the upper floor. Once this incorrect rumour was spread, members repeated it as clear evidence that Angela Eagle was lying. This is categorically untrue.

Regardless of the truth of the matter, there is no doubt that this event had a strongly negative effect on the local atmosphere, and it is clear that it put many people in fear. Instead of supporting frightened members, some people engaged in an angry course of abuse (27) to those suggesting it was a politically motived attack, just compounding the stress.

 

(26) The smashed window was a criminal act by person or persons unknown. There is absolutely no evidence that a Labour Party member was responsible. The position of the window is actually in a side passage that is a public thoroughfare between a local pub, known for rowdiness, and housing.

 It may have been a politically motivated act or it may have been vandalism. We may never know. I cannot see what this has to do with Wallasey CLP.

 

(27) No evidence has been supplied that any Labour member has spread any such rumours or been abusive. Nor does the report actually say members were responsible.

 

The office of Angela Eagle has endured a significant amount of abuse, including abusive and intimidating phone calls. Staff members were eventually forced to unplug the phone. The Investigation has received many hundreds of abusive, homophobic, and frightening messages that have been sent by Labour members to Angela Eagle. Where appropriate, members have been administratively suspended pending investigation.

 

(28) This was disgraceful behaviour and criminal acts. The names of those known to be responsible, Labour members or not, should be handed to the Police.

 There is no information as to the number of Labour Party members allegedly involved in this criminal activity. If the number is provided we could assess whether there is a widespread problem in Wallasey CLP or not.

 

The office received a death threat for Angela Eagle, (29) for which a man has been arrested. Instead of condemning this and supporting the MP and the office staff receiving this, members have questioned whether this really occurred. The death threat has been seen by the investigation.

 

(29) I  have never heard any Labour Member  suggest that the death threat never happened and the Labour Party has provided no evidence of this. For some reason the Report fails to mention that the man responsible, and convicted, is from Glasgow and not a Labour Party member. They fail to explain why this criminal act was reported to the Police whilst the other allegations of criminal activity have not.

 

The Police advised Angela Eagle to cancel her drop-in Advice Surgeries. Instead of expressing concern that matters should have reached this level, members called her a liar and suggested that the Police (30) had done no such thing (the wording of the Police statement was advisory, as is the correct protocol).

In what seems like a co-ordinated campaign, the MP’s office has been subject to ‘Distributed Denial Of Service’ attacks – the deliberate flooding of their systems. Even if one did not believe these events happened, the comradely response would be to support fellow members in true distress. Members instead went to the press to insinuate that the allegations were lies.

 

(30) I have seen no evidence of any member calling Angela Eagle a  liar ;none is in this Report

(31) I   wrote to Merseyside Police complaining that our MP was not being offered police protection. (appended)   The Labour Party is aware of this.


Safeguarding

There are many members in Wallasey under the age of 18. Meetings are mostly all-member meetings so any young person could attend (and have done so), and even the AGM included members under the age of 18. These children should not be put in the unacceptable position of fearing Labour Party meetings.(32) The Party has an obligation to create a welcoming and safe environment for young members.

 

(32) There is no evidence whatsoever that any one has ever been in fear at a Labour Party meeting.


Recommendations

The current atmosphere in the CLP is toxic and divided in the extreme.(33)  It is not possible for the CLP to safely meet in the current climate, and the Party should support them to move forward from these problems.

 

(33)No evidence has ever been provided to support  this assertion. Minutes of all meetings are available. No complaints were ever made to the Labour Party until the Secretary was voted out and the CLP declined to support Angela Eagle’s Leadership bid.

 

It is recommended that the CLP be suspended (34) subject to a review in January. The CLP should be supported to start meeting again, with oversight from the Regional Office, and a code of conduct for meetings should be put in place.

 

(34) If a few members have achieved the suspension of Wallasey CLP due to unsubstantiated claims of  fear of intimidation then  they can simply continue to express fear and effectively veto meetings being held. A simple solution would be to have a Regional Officer of the Labour Party attend our monthly meetings to not only ensure fair play but see how our meetings are actually run.

 

The Regional office will facilitate meetings of the key stakeholders in Wallasey to  discuss a joint campaign strategy, policy issues, and CLP matters.

 

During the suspension, any candidate selection meeting should be overseen by the Regional Board.

 

All role-holders in Wallasey should receive training on organisational matters before the end of the suspension. Formal meeting structures will help manage the tensions in meetings.

 

This report should not be used to exacerbate problems. Claims and counter-claims will not improve the environment, and we will not act on unsubstantiated allegations.

 

Except that the CLP has been suspended as a result of “unsubstantiated allegations”.

 

Appendix re point 4; request re rules

 

On Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 9:15 AM, Paul Davies <****@btinternet.com> wrote:

 

Hi Bernie and thanks for this.

 

I think this could end up with all sorts of boring arguments at the AGM or subsequent meetings as the Party rules appear to suggest C LPs can either be based on all members meetings or delegate meetings.

Wallasey has all member General Meetings and Delegated AGMs.

That makes sense to me but that does not appear to be an option in the Rule Book (I may of course have missed something)

To save potential arguments over this it would help if there was something in writing from the Labour Party to clarify this. Is there something or have I missed something in the Rule book?

Sorry to be a pain but best sorted before the AGM so that it all runs smoothly.

Thanks

Paul Davies.

Sent from my iPhone

 


 

Appendix to point 6; Code of Conduct; CLP Document

This is an extract from the CLP Code of Conduct drawn up by the new officers within a week of being elected and  prior to the Investigation. It was provided to the Labour Party prior to the NEC Report

 

Conduct of members during meetings

In many ways this is quite simple. Members are expected to be polite and respectful of all other members whether they agree with the views they are expressing or not.

This can be expanded to explain that aggression, racism, sexism and homophobic comments will not be tolerated.

If a member wishes to speak at a meeting he/she should indicate this by raising her/his hand. The Chair of the meeting will acknowledge this and then call the members, who have raised their hands, to speak in turn.

Any member speaking must be listened to with respect even if other members totally disagree. With what is being said. There must be no heckling and no interrupting. Members can applaud if they think a contribution is good enough but there can be no booing.

If you object to the way a person is speaking or acting and the Chair is not, in your opinion, handling the situation  properly then you can get on your feet and raise what is known as a point of order but this is seldom necessary.

 

The Chair

The Chair plays an important role in the meeting by making sure that the rules are followed and all business conducted efficiently and in line with good conduct and with all members treated with dignity and respect.

 

If anyone is speaking or acting out of turn then it is the responsibility of the Chair to bring things to order.

 

The Chair is in total control of the meeting and can even stop someone to stop speaking or ask them to leave the meeting!   This seldom happens and we cannot ever remember it happening in Wallasey but the Chair has that power.

The Chair’s power can be challenged however.

If the meeting thinks that a Chairs ruling on any matter  is wrong then this can be challenged but it takes a 2/3rd majority to overturn a Chairs ruling not just  a straight 50%

I hope this helps new members. Don’t worry it’s not as complicated as it looks and we certainly don’t remember any meetings as hostile as one or two people have reported in the press recently. 

If you want to have your say; just put your hand up and you can be sure of a respectful audience.

 


 

Appendix to point 8: call to set an illegal budget

The only motion to the CLP regarding cuts called for the Labour Group to maximise its use of reserves and put the blame for cuts on the Tories. This was carried at the CLP on Friday 22nd January 2016.

 

The motion read:

This meeting condemns the Tory local government settlement announced in December 2015. It is putting huge pressure on Councils to make even more cuts.

We recognise the appalling position that this creates for Wirral Labour Councillors. We note the advice given to Labour Councillors by Jeremy Corbyn in December. We agree that Labour must support the setting of legal budgets. We also agree that every effort should be made to avoid cuts by using reserves and borrowing, whilst Labour Councillors lead a local campaign against the cuts. It is vital that Labour Councillors demonstrate, as Jeremy puts it, that at every level “our Party is now clearly an anti-austerity party.”

This meeting calls on Wirral Labour Councillors to:

Set out the extent to which they are proposing to utilise reserves and borrowing to minimise the impact of the Tory announcement;

Explain how they propose to make the bulk of the savings in 2016/17, since the Council consultation appears to specify cuts of about £3 million, when £24 million savings are required.

Set out how they will, in Jeremy’s words, ensure that “the blame for the cuts in local government services squarely on the government, which is causing them.”

Set out their proposals to help the Labour leadership “build a national campaign and to work alongside Labour councils to mobilise local campaigns in their areas to expose the devastating impact of this government’s cuts to local council spending…. forging strong alliances with local community campaigners, council staff who are under duress as a result of Tory spending cuts, local citizens and others in defending local services.”

 

As can be seen the motion specifically supported the setting of a LEGAL budget and is nothing like the impression given in the Report  

 


  

Appendix to point 12; Improving the AGM; CLP Document

This was drawn up by the new officers within a week of being elected and endorsed by the one and only Executive meeting. A copy was sent to the Labour Party on several occasions prior to the Report being compiled.

 

Improvement of the Conduct of the AGM

 

The Annual General Meeting of the Wallasey CLP is an important meeting and it is important that it is well run. After each meeting, but especially the AGM, the Executive should consider how the meeting went and suggest improvements. These are some simple straight forward suggestions to ensure that our next AGM is run smoothly.

 

Of Copy of the full rules to be made sent to all members and posted them on our website.

We produce Wallasey CLP Rules and Procedures plus a Code of Conduct to be followed at all meetings and circulate this to members and post them on our website.

Prior to the next AGM we e mail all members reminding them that the AGM is delegate only, enclose a list of those we believe are entitled to attend and ask those who believe we have omitted them to go back to the Unit who they nominated them.

When we receive a new affiliation after the 31st of December the Affiliating Organisation be in formed when acknowledging that affiliation that their delegate is not eligible to attend the AGM.

We e mail all Affiliated party Organisation again re their delegation to the CLP and whether they are entitled to attend the AGM prior to the meeting.

We e mail all Delegates the nominations with the Agenda and inform them of the procedures to be followed at the AGM.

We clarify the rules re Ordinary business and emergency motions at the AGM.

We check membership and delegate credentials at the door utilising the services of the membership Secretary and Executive  members.

We appoint the elected Tellers to act also as Stewards.

 


 

Appendix to point 16 ; AGM  Minute re letter to Angela Eagle

 

Angela Eagle MP Annual Report; There was no report

Under this item J*** C*** submitted an emergency motion for the consideration of the meeting which read;

 

“I am asking for the support of Wallasey CLP to the appeal to all members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP)  to REJECT the motion of no Confidence in Jeremy Corbyn  tabled by Margaret Hodge and Ann Coffey.

I agree that the Country now faces critical questions about the future of our economy and society. I also believe that a leadership contest at such a time would be self indulgent and a waste of our party resources . It would also let the Tories off the hook at a time when they are bitterly split.

If Labour MPs move to oust Corbyn now, they would be showing contempt for the colossal democratic mandate he received from party members and supporters less than 12 months ago”.

 

A*** R*** suggested that the meeting should record, by way of a motion, its appreciation of the stance being  taken by Angela Eagle in not being drawn into the Leadership debate, not resigning and continuing to support  Jeremy Corbyn.

 

B*** M***, suggested that there were no provisions in the rules for such motion to be taken at an AGM and she had rejected this motion at the start of the meeting. J*** M*** suggested that any  motion relating to the conduct of our MP was inappropriate as she is free to perform her role as she sees fit.

 

The Chair ruled that these could not be considered as an emergency motions at the AGM  and suggested that she could close the AGM and immediately open an emergency Ordinary Meeting if the members so wished.

 

There was then discussion as to whether the AGM meeting should be closed and then an Emergency Ordinary Meeting be held to consider  this motion and whether this would be within the rules.

 

P*** D***  suggested that to cut through any complication regarding the rules  relating  to Motions, a letter be drafted by the Chair and Secretary along the lines of the sentiments expressed by Alan, if the writing of such a letter had the support of the meeting. This was  supported by A*** R*** who withdrew his proposal for a motion.

 

The Chair put the proposal of a letter  to the meeting for a vote and it was agreed by an overwhelming majority that such a letter be sent on behalf of the meeting.

 

The Chair thanked the Officers for their work during the previous year, the members who had stood for office, whether successful or not, and everyone present for attending the meeting.

 

There being no other business the  Chair thanked everyone for their attendance and closed the meeting .

 


 

Appendix to point 20 ; Press Reports re Allegations of  Homophobia

 

Tessa Jowell

On Politics today on 5th July, speaking in support of Angela’s leadership bid and responding to a point that Angela’s CLP were backing Corbyn: “I’ve spoken to Angela about her meeting. Angela faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”.

 

Councillor Bernie Mooney, outgoing Secretary

 On North West Tonight on 7th July 2016 speaking about the AGM :

 

“There were homophobic gestures made to our newly elected LGBT member. There was hostile names called at Angela. At one point somebody called her a dyke. Now people will say that that didn’t happen, but there are people who will give evidence to that that that’s the type of thing that were happened through this meeting”.

 

Standing in front of Sherlock House and responding to the vandalism there, Bernie alleged that a Wallasey Labour Party member threw the brick through the window at Sherlock House:

“Thanks. I’m absolutely disgusted with what’s happened it’s awful this isn’t how people should work it’s not how the Labour group should work. This is not what Labour members should be doing to their MP it’s a disgrace”.

 

James Bennett

On Newsnight on 12th July 2016 in answer to the question “What sort of things have you heard at meetings?” James said

“Well, homophobic comments made at Angela Eagle, who wasn’t present at the meeting, homophobic gestures made towards people at the meeting at the mention of Angela’s name. One lady at a recent meeting even threatened to punch somebody.”

 

And on BBC North West Tonight: “At the last meeting there was threats of violence, homophobic abuse, arguments between grown men and women, it’s not a pleasant environment to be in”.

 

And on Newsnight “Well within Wallasey the tone of the meetings has been appalling, threats of violence, homophobia, arguments between grown men and women, and now most recently today we’ve had an actual act of violence – a brick thrown through a window”.

 

Angela Eagle

On BBC TV referring to Jeremy Corbyn and the threats, intimidation and violence –  “They are being done in his name and he needs to get control of the people who are supporting him and make sure this behaviour stops and stops now.”

Evan Davis – We saw, you know, a brick thrown through your Constituency office window.

Angela Eagle – Yes.

Evan Davis – Do you think its Labour members, of any kind, who were responsible for the violence, for the death threats, for the hate that we have seen?

Angela Eagle – Erm, there’s a lot of hate, there’s a lot of death, there were death threats I’ve been told tonight, there’s a lot of vitriol. I have to say that my office workers have to work in that environment. You heard from one of them tonight. They’re just trying to do their job. They shouldn’t be subjected to this kind of approach. It’s happening up and down the country, it’s bullying …

Evan Davis – Is it Jeremy Corbyn supporters?

Angela Eagle – … and it should stop. Jeremy should tell his supporters who are orchestrating this on social media to stop it.

Extracts from The Guardian article on 1st August

Angela Eagle’s local Labour party is in further turmoil over a formal complaint that alleges she was referred to as “Angie the dyke”, and that a member was threatened with being punched in the head at an official meeting.

The Labour MP, who challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership before withdrawing from the contest, saw her constituency party of Wallasey suspended last month over the claim of bullying and intimidation.

The complaint by 17 Wallasey party members, seen by the Guardian, alleges that Eagle was the subject of the homophobic slur, and that others were intimidated at the annual general meeting on 24 June, which the MP did not attend. The original complaint about the AGM was made by 17 delegates led by Paul Stuart, also a vice-chairman of the suspended party.

 

“Meetings have become very hostile, with people attending who should not be present. Members have been heard threatening people, saying they ‘Would come back there and punch you in the head’ for having an opinion. This is commonplace now and goes unchallenged by anyone because of intimidation and bullying,” the complaint says.

 

“When people try to leave, people stand in the way of the door and are told those trying to leave, they are not leaving and sit down. While people do leave, the actions are an intimidating act … At our AGM, when electing the LBGT officer, there was some delegates who started limping their wrists to each other and laughing. Homophobic comments have been said by members including ‘Angie the dyke’, making reference to Angela Eagle MP.”

The day after she declared as a candidate, her staff said a brick was thrown through the window of a stairwell in her office building. Some of her opponents have questioned whether the incident was linked to her challenging Corbyn, but Eagle made it clear she believes they are related, appearing in the media at the time asking the leader to “control” his supporters.

 


 

 

Appendix to point 20 ; CLP Report into Homophobia

 

From: ****@btinternet.com

Sent date: 04/08/2016 11:40

 

To: katherine_*******@labour.org.uk

Subject: Fwd: My report on how to deal with the allegations of Homophobic behaviour

Attachments: Version 2 Allegation of Intimidation ad Homophobic behaviour at Wallasey CLP AGM v2.docx 38.8 KB

Bernie and Helen.docx 19.5 KB

 

Subject : My report on how to deal with the allegations of Homophobic behaviour

 

My report presented to our Executive on 11 July and copy given to Noel Hutchinson of NW Labour. I also attach letters I hand delivered to the only two people I know of who were at the meeting and are making allegations.

 

Regards

Paul Davies

 


Allegations of Intimidation and Homophobic behaviour at Wallasey CLP AGM

Background

There have been   reports in the press and TV , first about Intimidation which surfaced in the Liverpool Echo Saturday July 2nd ; 8 days after the Annual meeting   and, more recently, Homophobic Behaviour.

The reports all refer to alleged behaviour at the Wallasey AGM Friday June 24th  two days prior to the announcement that Angela Eagle was resigning from the Shadow Cabinet and contemplating standing as Leader.

In the Echo it was alleged as a headline to a near full page article on page 6:

“Threats of violence over Eagle Leader bid”

This was attributed to Wirral Young Labour and the article reads as if members at the CLP, or some of them at least, were angry at Angela launching a Leadership bid.

This mystified your Officers because of course no one at that meeting knew that Angela was doing anything but supporting Jeremy Corbyn and the meeting congratulated her for doing so. She resigned 2 days after the CLP meeting. There was no reason for any member to be antagonistic towards her and if they were it could have nothing to do with her Leadership bid.

The penultimate paragraph of the Echo article quoting the unnamed spokesperson for Wirral Young Labour states;

“Claims of doctored lists, threats of violence and a walkout of ashamed members paints a particularly dire picture of our own internal democracy”

Indeed it would if true.

There is no mention in the article of any Homophobic behaviour.

The Officers attempted to call an Emergency Executive meeting to discuss these allegations and draft a response but were advised that 7 days’  notice would be required. In any event the previous Secretary had not responded to a request by the incoming Secretary to provide contact details so it would have been impossible to convene an Executive meeting.

The Chair and Secretary asked the Vice Chair Paul Davies to speak to the media about this issue and any other accusations regarding the conduct of the CLP and handle any other requests for interviews from the media.

The Echo article was followed by a Television interview on Politics Today on Sunday in which Tessa Jowell alleged:

“I spoke to Angela about her meeting. She faced homophobic abuse at that meeting”

This Television interview was then widely reported in the Press including the Pink News. It gave the impression that Angela Eagle was at the meeting and “ faced” direct abuse.

The article in Pink News stated;

“Angela Eagle has been subjected to homophobic abuse since resigning from the Shadow cabinet and revealing her plans to challenge current Leader Jeremy Corbyn according to a senior Labour Politician”

If Angela has been subjected to abuse of any kind this should be deplored but any such abuse could not have happened at the AGM in response to her Leadership bid as she declared her resignation 2 days after the meeting. Obviously Angela could not have “faced” direct abuse at the meeting either because she was not there.

Neither Tessa Jowell nor Angela Eagle were present at the meeting so of course neither were a witness to any such events themselves and there was, unfortunately, no mention as to what exactly happened.

More recently Bernie Mooney a Wallasey Councillor, the Secretary of the Constituency until the recent AGM (when she was replaced after a ballot)  and former Trades Union Tutor  appeared on BBC North West Tonight  on 7th July 2016 and made the following allegations:

“There were homophobic gestures made to our newly elected LGBT member. There was hostile names called at Angela. At one point somebody called her a dyke. Now people will say that; that didn’t happen, but there are people who will give evidence to that.  That’s the type of thing that happened through this meeting”.

Again this could give  the impression that  Angela was at the meeting as the hostile names were allegedly “at Angela”  not about Angela. It also suggests that there was not an isolated incident but such behaviour “happened throughout the meeting.”

There were no complaints about any misconduct made at the actual AGM or to the Officers of the CLP during the week that followed,  so the Press reports were the first your new  Officers knew about these allegations .

Bernie Mooney was at the meeting  and from her Statements appear to have   first  hand knowledge of what was said or know of people who do have such first hand knowledge and so, fortunately, can  assist us in finding out exactly what happened.

The allegations are particularly upsetting to those members who were present  who are Gay or members who   have Gay children , such as our new Chair and Secretary,  and who have opposed such behaviour over many years. This is especially so as they were reported in the Pink News.  They should also be upsetting to all other members of our CLP whether present or not.

 

Seriousness of the Allegations

The Labour Party is proud to have been at the forefront of the long campaign to eradicate Homophobia and discrimination in whatever form it may manifest itself.

Homophobic Behaviour can be very distressing to those who are the direct target and those who witness it. No such behaviour should be tolerated and should always be challenged.

These are very serious accusations. They reflect badly on the Wallasey CLP if it is thought by our General Membership or the General Public that our 44 delegates, several of them very experienced in the Labour Movement, in attendance on the night witnessed such behaviour and took no action to prevent it and either correct the behaviour or move to eject the person or persons responsible.

If there was such behaviour, even if not witnessed by everyone present then action must be taken to both defend our members against abuse at future meetings and maintain the reputation of our CLP.

We must neither discourage members from attending future meetings nor let anyone who does attend think that they can act in such a way with impunity.

Homophobic behaviour is a crime and should be treated as such.

One of our Executive Officers met with the Police at Manor Road Police Station once we heard the Bernie Mooney interview and was assured that any complaint would be treated seriously provided there were people prepared to come forward. Those witnesses do not have to be the direct victim of the abuse.

The law on Homophobic Behaviour is covered by the section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986:

A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment alarm or distress thereby.

Sections 28-32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 result in offences under the Public Order Act being treated more seriously and an increased sentence the behaviour if related to Homophobia.

There were  seasoned and well known  Campaigners for LGBT rights, and against Intimidation and Homophobia, at this AGM including Councillors, workers in Angela Eagle’s office, Labour Party branch Officers, Trades Union Officials and Shop Stewards who would not be intimidated by anyone so we should have no problem getting to the bottom of this provided Delegates co-operate with any investigation. Any of these should of course raise the matter at the meeting when the first alleged incident happened if they witnessed it.

The way forward

There may be members who think that we should just let this all blow over. There may be some who think that because the allegations were not made at the meeting or witnessed by everyone present they should be ignored. There may be some who think that unless the person who was the victim of the alleged abuse wants to make a complaint then there should be no further action.

We do not agree with any members who feel this way for the following reason:

If anyone is allowed to get away with homophobic behaviour they may decide that they can continue with such behaviour, whether inside Labour Party meetings or outside.

We owe it to anyone who has been impacted by whatever happened at the AGM to ensure that this matter is dealt with properly.

The accusations tarnish the good name of our CLP and this would be justified if we did nothing about the accusations.

As the alleged behaviour occurred, as already stated, before any Delegate to Wallasey CLP knew that Angela Eagle was anything but a loyal supporter of Jeremy Corbin, it could not have been as a result of any Political views or support for either Angela or Jeremy and so any investigation should not be clouded by any disagreement regarding who should be our future Leader. All members should be able to unite in a desire to see this matter dealt with properly.

We propose that:

There be a thorough investigation into the behaviour of members at the AGM and subsequently of any allegations conducted by a subcommittee of the Executive  comprising of 3 members, including and chaired by the Vice Chair.

If there is a complaint and call for Disciplinary Action as provided for in Clause II 1A then the Procedures as laid out in Clause II 1A-M be strictly followed. If there is not a complaint calling for Disciplinary Action then the Executive will in any event instigate an investigation which should be conducted so far as is practicable the procedures laid down in Clause II.

A full report of this Investigation to be made available to the full CLP and the Regional Officer of the Labour Party and interim reports as to the progress (but not interim findings or evidence) of the Investigation to presented each meeting of the Executive.

The subcommittee e mail all delegates in attendance at the AGM asking them to submit statements regarding any Homophobic behaviour or Intimidation they witnessed

Any member/members who were the victim of Homophobic abuse or witnessed such abuse and should be advised to take these allegations to the Police who assure us that they will take the allegations seriously and deal with Complainants sympathetically. It would be extremely helpful if any one making such a complaint to the Police advises the CLP Officers and provides the Crime number.

Members should be encouraged in future to object to any perceived Homophobic or other inappropriate behaviour at meetings at the time it occurs and not wait until after the meeting.

If members are nervous about raising such a complaint at the meeting they should approach the CLP officers or our LGBT Officer immediately after the meeting.

Members to be asked in future  to first make any allegations they may have either to the Police or Officers of the Party rather than taking such complaints to the Press.

 


 

Appendix re point  24;  Allegation  of misuse of data

 

Sent date: 05/08/2016 12:38

Dear Kathy Runswick, (Wallasey CLP Chair) & Kathy Miller, (Wallasey CLP Secretary),

 

I am writing because I have a number of serious complaints about an event being organised by what purports to be Wirral TUC on Tuesday 2nd August 2016 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm. The meeting has been advertised by post to members of the Labour Party.

 

I am among five Labour Party Members at three addresses in C**** Gardens, Wallasey.

All five of us received a flyer (attached to this email) advertising a meeting of “Wallasey Labour Party Members and Supporters” at Wallasey Town Hall.

 

I, Mrs L***** K*****, and two of my neighbours and Labour Party members, Miss S**** P*** & Mrs S*** S****, witnessed Paul Davies posting the flyer through our letter boxes on Saturday 30th  July 2016. No-one else in our close received this flyer!

 

I believe that Labour Party membership data may have been illegally procured and used by an external organisation and/ or unauthorised people without consent.

Kathy Miller, as the CLP secretary, you are one of few people who officially and legally holds a full membership list for Wallasey CLP.

 

I would like to know how Mr Davies procured this list?

 

While my husband and I joined the Labour Party in March 2016, my neighbours have only recently joined, at the beginning of July, and so I do not think this is an issue whereby a ‘legacy list’ was left lying around;

 

This appears to be the deliberate misuse or illegal procurement of an up-to-date register of members.

 

My understanding is that Wallasey CLP is currently suspended by the national Party because of problems that include allegations of abuse and intimidation by certain members of the local Party.

I deplore any abuse and intimidation and support the suspension of the CLP until such matters can be investigated fully.

 

Might I ask whether such a meeting, the use of members’ data and the communications to members, are fully compliant with the suspension of the CLP?

 

I would request that you deal with this as a matter of urgency given the meeting is on Tuesday.

 

In particular, I understand that Mr Davies has been very vocal on the media in criticising our local Member of Parliament, Angela Eagle. I am happy to speak to Ms Eagle further about my concerns and ask that she take an active interest in this investigation because the meeting notice mentions her personally.

 

I am copying this email to a number of other officials. I am also copying the Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, because he is coming to Merseyside today and I believe he would condemn any such behaviour.

 

Given the public interest in this matter, and Mr Davies’ very public pronouncements in the run-up to this meeting, I will be releasing this letter to the media.

 

Yours sincerely,

L**** K****

 

 

The Labour Party Head Office Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QT Labour Central, Kings  Manor, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 6PA 0345 092 2299 | labour.org.uk/contact

 

 

Paul Davies

*************,

WALLASEY,

Merseyside,

CH** 1**

2nd August 2016

 

Dear Mr Davies,

The national Party has received complaints that you have used Labour Party membership data to deliver promotional leaflets on behalf of a third party (copy attached) to the houses of Party members in Wallasey, which may constitute an unauthorised use of the personal data of Labour Party members. The Labour Party takes allegations of breaches of Data Protection extremely seriously.

Everyone with authorised access to membership data must comply with their legal obligations in terms of handling and using this personal data under the Data Protection Act 1998. It may be an offence to disclose data to a third party for an unauthorised purpose.

Could you please confirm what data you used to determine where you delivered your leaflets? In order for us to respond to the complainants I require a response from you by the end of Wednesday 3rd August 2016.

Yours sincerely,

Katherine *******

Head of Disputes and Discipline

 


 

Appendix to point 25; proof of being in London

 

To: katherine_*******@labour.org.uk

Subject: My London Trip

Attachments: train ticket 001.bmp 15.6 MB

John Lewis Financial Services.pdf 110.5 KB

 

Good afternoon Katherine

 

Please find below confirmation of my booking at the Restaurant in London. My phone shows me ringing them to book that morning and then later to change booking to earlier time.

I attach part of my train ticket which was purchased as Midland Trains to Crewe and then onward to London via Virgin Trains. I have not found the first part of the ticket and presumably left it on the train but in any event would have had to get to Crewe and even by car would have had to leave early.

 

I also attach my credit card statement which shows me topping up my Oyster card at Liverpool St station on Saturday 30th. It does not show the time and I do not know if I can get that information but it was soon after I arrived in London and our hotel was next to the station.

 

I also have a text message sent to my daughter that afternoon telling her I was in London. This does not scan but I can get a photograph of it if needed.

 

The 3 people who are lying about me told at least one reporter that they saw me mid afternoon. I asked him that question when he rang me about the accusation.

 

I can only repeat my outrage at this fabricated accusation, and the time I have to take to disprove it on the basis of being guilty until I prove my innocence, and no doubt if it had not been my good fortune to be out of town then this accusation would have been believed.

Having seen the other outrageous and fabricated accusations about our AGM I suppose I should not have been surprised!

 

Regards

Paul

 

 

From: ****@btinternet.com

Sent date: 31/10/2016 09:03

Subject: Fwd: Letter re: data use

Begin forwarded message:

From: Paul Davies < ****@btinternet.com >

Date: 1 October 2016 19:16:32 BST

To: Katherine ******* < katherine_*******@labour.org.uk >

Subject: Re: Letter re: data use

 

Good evening Katherine and I hope you are well.

I have not chased this up sooner as I presumed you would be busy given the Leadership election and Conference.

 

I would be grateful for a response now however as I am not happy that some members have conspired together to fabricate lies about me and to date no action taken against them.

 

Thanks

Paul Davies.

 


 

Appendix to point 31 in NEC Report; e mail to police re MP Surgeries

 

From: COMMCEN@merseyside.police.uk

Sent date: 23/07/2016 14:

18

To: ****@btinternet.com

Subject: RE: Angela Eagle surgeries [

Not Protectively Marked]

Good afternoon Paul,

In order for Merseyside Police to progress with your complaint can you please supply me with a contact number?

Many thanks

Merseyside Police

0151 709 6010 OR 101

 

Original

Message From:

Paul Davies [mailto: ***** @btinternet.com]

Sent: 23 July 2016 12:59

To: COMMCEN

Subject: Angela Eagle surgeries

I wish to complain that Merseyside Police advised our MP to close her weekly surgeries rather than offer her protection. As I understand it there were only two sessions, each of two hours, left prior to the Summer break. Surely  a PC or CSO could have assisted the Town Hall security staff.

Paul Davies.

Sent from my iPhone

 

 

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Rehearsals for Next Year’s Wirral Council Fireworks display – a Huge Success.

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“Enemies of the People”. No, not judges (or Corbyn). The Mail & co.

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Today’s right-wing newspapers will carry variations of a headline that shows how far we, as a country, have fallen and how close we are to falling catastrophically  further still. They’re also an object lesson in…

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