Stacking the Deck

A Victim of Disgraceful Bias at the Standards Committee at Kensington and Chelsea

The Newsdesk has received a letter from Mr Donald Cameron, describing his experience of the panel of Kensington and Chelsea’s Standards Committee when it failed to provide an impartial investigation of his complaint against the then Councillor Phelps, who had called Mr Cameron a liar in the Council chamber.  Mr Cameron’s letter highlights the injustice which is done by having individuals on the hearing panel who are biased in favour of the Councillor who was being complained against.  The Newsdesk is grateful to Mr Cameron for kindly providing permission to publish his letter on the blog.

 

Dear Sir

Re:  Cllr Cockell’s Standards Committee

I hope that Mr Downe’s letter to Ms Sophia Lambert, Chair of the K&C Standards Committee, results in a clean up of the way in which the committee has been operating.  Friends and supporters of the “accused” should not be allowed to sit as “independent” members of the Standards Committee.  In criminal parlance this is known as “rigging the jury”.

When Mr Downes, founder of Residents First!, complained last year about Cllr Cockell’s expenses he made a compelling complaint that included details of c. £10,000 of undeclared expenses, claims for expensive meals in New York for guests who were not named and whose identity Cllr Cockell subsequently “forgot”, and a letter to the local newspaper in which Cllr Cockell stated that he “never used the Mayor’s Bentley”.  But FOI enquiries showed that the chauffeur’s log registered at least 24 journeys in the car by our boy.  The (Standards) Assessment Committee (loaded with Cllr Cockell’s friends) dismissed the complaint and even went so far as to say that lies about the Bentley were acceptable as part of a political exchange!

When I complained to the Standards Committee about Cllr Phelps (a close associate of Cllr Cockell), I did so reluctantly.  The time required to pursue these complaints is enormous.

Cllr Phelps called me a liar in an open Council Meeting which I believed brought the Council into disrepute.  I wrote to Cllr Cockell asking for a retraction of the statement and an apology.  He told me to buzz off and assured me that the Code of Conduct had not been breached.  I then asked the Council for a transcript of the speech and they refused to hand it over, saying that the speech was protected by the Data Protection Act.  It was necessary for me to approach the Information Commissioner who insisted that the Council release the transcript and this formed the basis of my complaint.  The complaint was upheld and the sanction was a letter of apology from Phelps to the Mayor, for bringing the Council into disrepute.  An absurd result.  A similar case (Cllr Mason, Suffolk Council, Standards for England, July 2009) resulted in the councillor concerned being suspended for a year by the Standards Board.

I wrote several letters to the Director of Legal Affairs at the Council before the Standards hearing, requesting that the case should be heard by Standards For England because I did not believe that the K&C Standards Committee would be impartial.  The Council refused and insisted on hearing the case itself.  We now know that one independent member did not turn up to the hearing and a second (Ms Ware) is a declared fan and supporter of Phelps.

Now we know the truth.  The Standards Committee was “loaded”.  Just like the committee before it which looked into the complaint by Mr Downes about Cllr Cockell’s expenses.

The leadership at K&C runs the council as a private fiefdom, without checks and balances.  This corruption has unfortunately spread to the Standards Committee.  Cllr Cockell needs to raise his game and acknowledge that democracy demands that he should strive to “make the system work”.  By continuing to “work the system” for personal benefit, he fails himself, he fails his Party and he fails Kensington & Chelsea.  As a fellow Conservative, I am deeply ashamed of the man.

Yours faithfully

Donald Cameron


Private Eye Rotten Boroughs Piece

Private Eye has kindly given the blog permission to reproduce the piece on ex-Councillor pervert Barry Phelps.  The article appears in the Rotten Boroughs section of Private Eye, in Issue No 1267, 23 July – 5 August 2010.

Private Eye can be purchased at all good newsagents for £1.50 or via subscription from the publisher at this address:  https://secure2.subscribeonline.co.uk/PEYE/subscription.cfm

Privateeye

Pervert Barry Phelps in Private Eye

The hideous and lecherous old filth, ex-Councillor Barry Phelps of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, his emails perving on young boys, and the lack of press coverage are featured in the Rotten Boroughs section in the latest issue of Private Eye.

Here’s a link:  http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=rotten_boroughs&issue=1267

Full details are available in the printed edition, available at all good newsagents.

An Open Letter to Sophia Lambert, Chair of K&C’s Standards Committee

Information has been received, today, at the Newsdesk, concerning very serious misconduct by some of the supposedly “independent” members of  Kensington and Chelsea’s Standards and Ethics Committee.  This is not the first instance that there have been issues concerning the balance and independence of this committee.  Maybe, it is time to adopt the practice of other councils, and have a much larger committee drawn from a pan-borough perspective, and with safeguards to avoid any possible interference from Councillor Merrick Cockell to ensure its proper independence. 

The Newsdesk has received from Mr Justin Downes, founder of Residents First, a copy of his Open Letter to Sophia Lambert, the Chairperson of the Standards and Ethics Committee.  In this letter Mr Downes raises the important issue of why Jennifer Ware, an outspoken defender of Barry Phelps, was allowed to remain on the Standards Committee to adjudicate a complaint against Phelps made by Mr Donald Cameron earlier this year.  This issue strikes at the heart of the purpose of the Standards Committee, to be a watchdog and hold to account on behalf of ordinary residents and voters, those individual councillors that engage in misconduct and whose behaviour brings themselves and their council into disrepute.  The independent members of this committee must be independent, and free from all reasonable grounds of suspicion of partiality and being placemen for their Masters running the council.  This urgent and serious issue requires a clear response from Sophia Lambert, as to her role in the presence of Jennifer Ware on the committee that decided Mr Donald Cameron’s complaint.

It will not be good enough for the Council and Sophia Lambert to suggest that Barry Phelps was well known and, therefore, it would have been difficult to find anybody who did not know him.  There is a world of difference between someone who might have heard of Barry Phelps, and someone like Jennifer Ware, who describes herself as a “friend” of Phelps and is on public record as defending him, even after the scandal of him sending pervert emails.  Surely there is a wider pool of people in other parts of the borough, who have not had such continuous contact with Barry Phelps on a social and community level as Jennifer Ware.


 

Sophia Lambert

Chairperson

Standards and Ethics Committee

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea

Hornton Street

W8

 

Dear Ms Lambert

I have a recording of a conversation held between a resident and Mrs Jennifer Ware, an independent member of your committee.  In the conversation, Mrs Ware was asked about her relationship with Mr Barry Phelps.  The question was put as Mrs Ware has been publicly enthusiastic in support of Mr Phelps, expressing disappointment at his decision to resign.

Questioned about her relationship with Mr Phelps, it was clear her connection with him was so deep and so amicable that she could not be described as “independent” as a committee member in this instance.

My particular concern is the comment Mrs Ware made in response to the inquiry about her committee membership dealing with the complaint by Mr Donald Cameron against Mr Phelps.  Mrs Ware says she voiced her strong concerns to you about her relationship with Mr Phelps and whether the relationship conflicted her.  She said she had been reassured that there was no need for her to step aside on the basis of her friendship with Mr Phelps.

What concerns me is this.  Had I not withdrawn my complaint about Mr Phelps (because he had resigned), you would have been perfectly happy to allow Mrs Ware to remain a member, despite knowing of her deep friendship with Mr Phelps and the impossibility of her being balanced in judging the case.  Were she a member of any jury in a criminal case, her misconduct would have caused a mis-trial.

Does your recollection of the discussion and advice given accord with that of Mrs Ware?  I hope you can assure me Mrs Ware is in error in reporting your advice.  If you are able to give me that assurance it raises considerable doubts as to Mrs Ware’s integrity and thus her continuing position as an independent member on your vitally important committee.

Yours sincerely

 

Justin Downes

Residents First

Who is Cllr Cockell?

There is a certain mystique that surrounds Councillor Sir Merrick Cockell.  This is an individual who emerged from the abyss of nothingness in 1986, when he appeared as a councillor for Kensington and Chelsea.  Little is known about this man’s early years – nada, nyet, zilch.  No tergiversation from Cockell about his past, just deadly silence.

However, like the fictional character Hyacinth Bucket on the sit-com Keeping Up Appearances, he grants himself a certain aloofness and imperiousness.  And like her, he is especially particular in the pronunciation of his surname.  Let’s be clear here – if you even innocently pronounce it as in the mollusc, be prepared to be severely corrected.

But what of his antecedents?  Where was he born?  Where did he grow up and go to school?  What is the family background?  Did he go to university?  Those close to him say he is none too bright, and that it is really Councillor Daniel Moylan who runs Kensington and Chelsea Council:  Daniel Moylan: The planning king of Kensington, London Evening Standard, 19 July 2010. 

Cockell’s CV notes his progress from humble councillor to Leader of the Council in 2000, and, inter alia, subsequent election to be Chairman of the Kensington and Chelsea Partnership, Leader of London Councils, Board member of the Conservative Party, and a Board Member of the Central London Partnership.  Through his public roles he has made effortless progress, and has amassed “allowances” from the public purse of more than £110k per year.  Plus a gold plated, inflation proof, pension.

During this time, in frequent conflict with the Chairman of the local party, Cllr Cockell poured voluntary contributions from Kensington and Chelsea Conservatives into the Central Office “pot”.  This is an example of his well known ability to “build favour” and he was rewarded with a Knighthood in 2010, a fact which was proudly and loudly announced on the RBKC website.  No more soi-disant titles for Cockell, but final acceptance from the Establishment.  However, it would have been far better for the Conservative cause if the Kensington & Chelsea Conservative Party had shown more generosity towards their poorer neighbours in Hammersmith and Fulham, constituencies with marginal election campaigns to fight.

Cllr Cockell claims to have been an “international businessman”.  In fact he is a failed businessman, having run a one man import/export company from the basement of 1A Chelsea Manor Street, the Conservative Party office in Chelsea.  Nothing illegal about this, but aesthetically dreadful for the Leader of the Conservative group.  Cockell has a blind spot where political judgement is concerned.

The import/export company, Abingdon Cockell Ltd, was closed down in 2007 after years of losses.  Cllr Cockell is the sole signatory of the accounts at Companies House.  The business was exporting cigarettes to health poor West Africa.

Curiously, Abingdon Cockell Ltd cropped up again on the Internet in 2008 but Cllr Cockell declared this to be a “scam” with no involvement or participation from him.  If one goes to the site http://abingdoncockell.com, the site is redirected to http://asset-marketing.net/default.aspx and proudly announces “Abingdon Cockell Limited reaching global markets by fulfilling your needs…”.  On this site, under the “About Us” section, we are told that “The company is joint managed by Mr. Merrick Richard Cockell and Mr. Thomas Abingdon who are the sole owners of company.”.  This is an unexplained anomaly.

Like his anal effluvium Barry Phelps, Merrick Cockell, also a failure in the private or business sector, has finally made a success of himself in the feather bedded and cossetted world of local government in financially rich Kensington and Chelsea.

In the spirit of transparency that is the new mantra of British politics, we need to be told more about the background and origins of this self seeking man who we think is seeking enoblement to the House of Lords.  But like our erstwhile pretentious Hyacinth Bucket, the truth will always follow this man no matter how eclipsed by his ego.

Coming This Week

  • More on the ramifications of Phelps’ resignation;
  • More news on Barry Phelps;
  • Is there more to come out about sleaze and misconduct at the Council?

This blog will also be providing full coverage of the forth coming by-elections on 16 September 2010 in the Earl’s Court and Cremorne wards.

More Pictures Sent by Barry Phelps

Here are more pictures that were emailed by the then Councillor Barry Phelps of RBKC, using the Council’s email system.  Again, you can see Barry Phelps’ consistent sexual interest in pictures of young, underage boys.

The first picture below, was attached to one of Phelps’ emails, which he entitled “Purity of Mind Test”.  This photograph shows a young boy with, what for Phelps, was a strategically placed missile in front of the boy’s groin:

Purity_of_mind_test

Here is another email sent by Phelps on 18 August 2009, sharing with his recipients the sexual gratification he obtains from pictures of young boys.  This photo shows two young boys, and Phelps through his caption has sullied the innocence of their friendship with sexual overtones: