Date with the Ombudsman

On 18th May the Ombudsman’s circus rolls into Northop again for another 2 day performance at my and the publics’ expense.  Leading the charge yet again against me is the deliciously reptilian barrister that takes instruction from the Ombudsman. He has had some celebrated clients including more recently, Mrs Shoesmith of the Baby case (he lost that one) and ex mayor Ken  Livingstone, who was found guilt of insulting a journalist by an Adjudication panel some years ago.  Mr Child overturned this case by arguing that when Ken was being racist to the journalist, he was not on council business and therefore, had not broken any code of councillor conduct When I consulted E Rex Makin and I was assigned Tom Harrison, months ago; within hours a letter was winging its way to the Ombudsman claiming the same situation e.g., when I volunteered a statement to support Patrick Heesom who stood accused of bullying the Director of Community Services in February 2009, I was not acting in a councillor role.  How smart I thought and foolishly believed the matter would end. Whether the rules have changed or it’s different in Wales, I know not but Mr Child firmly rejected my barrister’s Livingstone submission.  Odd!  One rule for one client and another for me but of course the Ombudsman is paying his fees. Mrs Lewis will probably never be called to give evidence against Patrick Heesom despite being his major tormentor mounting 4 allegations of bullying against him. One, on 12th February was when we were shortlisiting candidates for a housing appointment.   My statement opened the door for the Ombudsman to show his amazing prowess, assisted by some of the most draconian powers ever handed down to a public servant.  How are cllrs supposed to defend themselves?  We have no insurance and accused cllrs must somehow foot the bill for their defence. Mrs Lewis does not face such a problem.  She can make the allegations and even cry bullying “I’m being bullied again,” when she is unable to deal with an Audit committee appearance.  So amazing was her performance at the 22nd January Audit committee, I posted a blog on this website.  Not for long though as I was obliged to remove it, having received a nasty threatening letter from Eversheds, the legal firm acting both for Mrs Lewis and the Council.  My truthful blog was judged defamatory and I was strongly advised to close the entire web site down. (I wonder who thought of that one?) No tough action has been taken against the leaker emanating from my own Authority who defamed me by accusing me of bullying Mrs Lewis. (Yes, another identical bullying allegation against yet another cllr!). The Eversheds report and briefing note from the Authority on my alleged bullying of Mrs Lewis is denied me as it’s exempt from the Freedom of Information act.  No surprise there then.  It’s wrong that officers can make harmful allegations and not allow an elected member to see them.  A touch of cowardice here methinks. At the Adjudication Panel, under oath; Mrs Lewis insisted I had described Patrick’s behaviour at this selection process as appalling.  It’s difficult to see how she failed to realise that my remarks were nothing to do with bullying behaviour!   Yet, Mrs Lewis was unable to offer any evidence to describe Patrick Heesom’s behaviour at this selection process.  She was unable to recall a single wrong word or dubious act to support that she had been bullied.  She just could not answer the question. How can she ever be regarded as credible witness in my Tribunal?  The Panel tasked to determine on what terms the officer should leave employment must rely only on the Eversheds report without being able to hear the other side of the case. Their recommendations will be delivered on 25th May. Any settlement may not be met by the Authority’s insurers.  The costs will always fall to the public in any event as we pay for legal cover as we do for all the services provided by the County Council including the enormous salaries of our senior personnel.

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