Posted by: John Brace | 1st November 2017

Cllr Louise Reecejones criticised for failing to formally apologise for how she treated whistleblowers

Cllr Louise Reecejones criticised for failing to formally apologise for how she treated whistleblowers

                                                      

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Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee (Wirral Council) 31st October 2017 Part 1 of 2

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Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee (Wirral Council) 31st October 2017 Part 2 of 2

Standards Panel (Wirral Council) 15th June 2017 L to R Cllr Reecejones, Shirley Hudspeth and Surjit Tour

Standards Panel (Wirral Council) 15th June 2017 L to R Cllr Reecejones, Shirley Hudspeth and Surjit Tour

It is hard to know where to start with a blog post of a meeting of Wirral Council ’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee yesterday afternoon (although you can watch the video clips of the public meeting above for yourself). The reports for this meeting can be read on Wirral Council’s website.

In June Wirral Council’s councillors on the Standards Panel met to consider a number of complaints that had been made about Cllr Louise Reecejones.

The Complainants had raised concerns about alleged financial irregularities within the Wirral Family Forum and the Local Carers Network. As Wirral Council had awarded grant funding, these concerns led to a Wirral Council Internal Audit report recommending the matter be referred to Merseyside Police. Wirral Council sought to recover some of the grant funding it had paid.

Merseyside Police investigated and the Crown Prosecution Service decided to “take no further action in the case as there was no realistic prospect of conviction against either suspect due to insufficient evidence”.

Cllr Louise Reecejones then complained to the employer of Tamsin Coates (one of the Complainants) making allegations, but not providing any evidence to support these allegations. When asked why she did this Cllr Louise Reecejones said she was “angry” but the Panel found that this had been done to threaten, intimidate, undermine and cause difficulties for Tamsin Coates at work.

She (Cllr Reecejones) also complained about Jessica Smyth (another Complainant) to an organisation that Jessica Smyth volunteered at and accused her of harassment and stalking. Again Cllr Louise Reecejones didn’t provide evidence to support this allegation.

At the Panel hearing, Cllr Reecejones in mitigation stated that personal family difficulties and her own medical/health issues had affected her judgement and ability to rationalise issues and concerns.

The Panel found that Cllr Reecejones had failed to treat Tamsin Coates, Jessica Smyth and Overchurch Residents Association with respect and had conducted herself contrary to the Council’s duty to promote high standards of conduct. In addition the Panel found that Cllr Reecejones had breached confidentiality after a complaint had been made about her which had led to comment about the matter on the Wirral Leaks blog and in Private Eye.

As a result the Panel required Cllr Reecejones to write a letter of apology to all the Complainants within 14 days of receiving the Standard Panel’s decision, that the Labour Party consider disciplinary action, training should be arranged and that the Panel’s decision be reported to the next meeting of the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee.

Cllr Reecejones appealed the Panel’s decision. Mr Tour (who was at the time Monitoring Officer) denied the appeal and informed her by email on the 28th July 2017.

On the 18th October 2017, after being asked by the Interim Monitoring Officer Philip McCourt why she hadn’t sent letters of apology, Cllr Reecejones sent very short letters of apology to the Interim Monitoring Officer (to forward to the Complainants). Mr McCourt replied stating, “your wording is not likely to be considered to be within either the letter or spirit of the Panel’s decision requiring you to undertake this action.”

Training wasn’t arranged as the Monitoring Officer felt that this should follow her apology.

The Wirral Labour Group Party Whip (Cllr Ron Abbey) found that “Louise Reecejones had brought Wirral Council, Wirral Labour Group and the Labour Party into disrepute and had contravened a number of Labour Party rules.”

At a meeting of Wirral Council’s Labour councillors on the 6th September 2017 his recommendation that the whip be removed indefinitely was approved. She appealed this to the Northwest Regional Labour Party who met on the 17th October 2017.

The Northwest Regional Labour Party Appeal Panel agreed with Cllr Abbey’s findings, but accepted mitigating evidence from Louise Reecejones and reduced the removal of the whip to four months (running from 6th September 2017 to 6th January 2018) which was conditional on:

“a) the letters of apology being sent,
b) Louise undertaking training and
c) the Labour Party providing her with media training.”

So that brings the story up to date and what happened at the Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee can be viewed in the video clips at the start.

The Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee also recommended that the Council’s whistleblowing policy be reviewed so that regard is had to the position of whistleblowers who are neither Wirral Council employees or employees of its contractors.

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Responses

  1. This fecking stinks of hypocrisy.
    These bunch of ******** need rescuing and ********ing quickly before they sink even deeper into the foul, stinking cesspit of their own creation.

    Short of upping sticks and pissing off to Sorrento or failing that, somewhere unsullied, our own salvation cannot be achieved in any other way.

    • The public will have their vote next May as to who they want as their local councillor.

      Many people living on the Wirral can’t afford to holiday in Sorrento, never mind to emigrate there!


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