Employment Tribunal Day 6 of 10: Cross-examination of Surjit Tour (Part 1)

Employment Tribunal Day 6 of 10: Cross-examination of Surjit Tour (Part 1)

Employment Tribunal Day 6 of 10: Cross-examination of Surjit Tour (Part 1)


Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer (Wirral Council)) at the Coordinating Committee held on 15th June 2016
Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer (Wirral Council)) at the Coordinating Committee held on 15th June 2016

This is a report of an Employment Tribunal hearing I attended, the matter had already been part heard and this was day 6 of 10. As far as I know there are no reporting restrictions. Brief details are below followed by the first part of a report based on my notes.

Venue: Tribunal Room 2, Third Floor, Liverpool Civil and Family Court Hearing Centre, 35 Vernon Street, Liverpool, Merseyside, L2 2BX

Case reference: 2400718/16

Appellant: Mrs A. Mountney

Respondent: Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Employment Judge: Judge Robinson

Tribunal Members:
Mr AG Barker
Mrs JE Williams

Clerk: Lynne Quilty

Date: 6.2.2017

Time: 10.00 am

The following is a contemporaneous account of day 6.

EJ Robinson told people present in Tribunal Room 2 to sit down and apologised for the wait. He said that they would carry on with Mr. Mountney (the lay representative for Alison Mountney).

The order of witnesses would be Surjit Tour, Kate Robinson, Joe Blott and Mr. Williams.

EJ Robinson said good morning to Mr. Tour and said that he could say the oath on a bible of his choice. He then asked Mr Tour to read from the yellow card.

Mr Tour read the oath which starts, “I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I will give..”.

EJ Robinson asked him to sit down. He said that he intended to break at 10.45 am, but if Mr Tour needed a break he must tell him. Mr Moore (representing Wirral Council) would introduce the cross-examination.

Mr Moore asked Mr Tour to find the witness statement. He asked Mr Tour his name to which he answered, “Surjit Tour”. He then asked if it was his business address in the witness statement. It was.

The representative for Wirral Council Mr Moore asked Mr Tour if he had read Mr Tour’s witness statement. Mr Tour answered yes.

Mr Moore asked if Mr Tour wanted to make any amendments to his witness statement.

Mr Tour wanted to make some clarifications. The first was in paragraph 101 on page 20. Referring to a reference here it would be “rolled out in phases”, Electoral Services had been passed until the elections in May 2015.

In paragraph 17, the references to public interest reports, there was just one which was about the highways procurement exercise, the other reference was a reference to a call-in of a different decision regarding services.

EJ Robinson said OK and asked if there were other amendments?

Mr Tour answered that a handwritten letter had been provided to him in October, he remembered the date in reference to paragraph 55, to avoid confusion he didn’t remember receiving it.

EJ Robinson said (to Mr Mountney) that although the letter was not discussed he could ask Mr Tour about it to which Mr Mountney replied OK.

Mr Mountney thanked EJ Robinson and said good morning. Starting at the beginning of Mr Tour’s witness statement he referred to Mr Tour starting at Wirral Council in 2009. He asked Mr Tour if Wirral Council was in turmoil at that time?

Mr Tour said that the detail [of the turmoil] had not become apparent until later. Continuing, he said that Cllr Green had commissioned Anna Klonowski to look into whistleblowing concerns of Martin Morton and that the issues that arose needed to be reviewed.

Mr Mountney referred to page 227 and a Cabinet report in November 2013 that summarised the issues. There had been a need to established effective governance. Wirral Council had many whistleblowers and it was clear to those present at that time that there were issues in the way Wirral Council treated whistleblowers with disdain.

Mr Tour said that although there were issues, that Wirral Council was addressing them which was made clear arising from the Anna Klonowski Associates Ltd review relating to Mr Morton.

There had been a Cabinet report in September 2011, which was a supplementary report which set out the issues of governance in the organisation. Wirral Council had worked to address the governance issues and the failings.

Mr Mountney referred to page 281 and asked a question to which Mr Tour answered yes.

Mr Mountney referred to 2.8 and 2.9, the Anna Klonowski Associates report and the culture at Wirral Council about whistleblowing. The culture was one were there was fear of reprisals (against whistleblowers). He asked a question about this. Mr Tour replied that he accepted it.

Mr Mountney said that the concerns whistleblowers had that they felt they were not listened to, treated fairly and that whistleblowers were conscious of reprisal.

Mr Tour said that in the context of the whistleblowing raised by Martin Morton it was spread out, in 2009 he was not told the large issues but it was clear in the report that Anna Klonowski prepared.

Mr Mountney said he was correct. Referring to the Public Interest Disclosure Act reports, he referred to the major issues. Mr Tour said that the public interest report into highways was to do with the procurement arrangements.

Mr Mountney asked that if someone was working for Wirral Council at that time might they be fearful of blowing the whistle or raising a grievance?

Mr Tour said that he recognised that improvements needed to be made, there was a revised whistleblowing policy and a follow-up report.

Mr Mountney asked if most employees were fearful of whistleblowing or raising a grievance?

Mr Tour said that they “would or could be concerned” but referred again to the revised whistleblowing policy and the commissioning of the Anna Klonowski Associates report.

Mr Mountney asked how long it took to resolve Martin Morton’s whistleblowing?

Mr Tour answered that it took a few years to resolve.

Mr Mountney referred to paragraph 14 in reference to the major impact on Mr Tour’s time due to day-to-day issues.

Mr Tour replied that much time was spent on the Improvement Plan and sustaining improvement.

Mr Mountney asked if it was really the case that Mr Tour had dropped one?

Mr Tour admitted it was “challenging”, as there was a “lot to address” and then commented on the “level of work”.

Mr Mountney asked a further question if whistleblowers got the time they deserved?

Mr Tour said it was clear there were conversations with Mrs Mountney and that all staff were communicated to about the improvements. There had been work undertaken. Mr Tour felt that Wirral Council dealt with the issues needed to be dealt with effectively, but there had been demands on time.

Mr Mountney referred to Mr. Tour’s witness statement and that for two to three lives it had been a priority to address the issues which were compounded by two public interest reports. One of the issues had been called in and at the time it was described as a “dysfunctional Council” and a damaging place to those who brought grievances over whistleblowing complaints.

Mr Tour said he was aware of the issues of Martin Morton and other whistleblowers. That they were linked was not something he was sure of. However he said, “it was a challenging time”.

Mr Mountney referred to another public interest disclosure and asked if it was resolved to which Mr Tour said it was still ongoing.

Mr Mountney asked when the second note was made? Mr Tour answered that the public interest report by the Audit Commission was in June 2012 and that it had been prior to this.

Mr Mountney asked if that was before it was published in June 2012. Mr Tour answered 5 years but it was not resolved, but that wasn’t through lack of trying.

Mr Mountney asked how many employees Wirral Borough Council had to which Mr Tour responded four thousand.

Mr Mountney asked if the HR department had eighty staff? Referring to paragraph 23, he asked Mr Tour to clear up a date which had been referred to also in Kate Robinson’s witness statement. He asked if it referred not to February 2012, but December 2011?

Mr Tour answered that he didn’t recall. Mr Mountney again referred to that Mr Tour had told Kate Robinson he could not recall, but this didn’t mean he hadn’t been told?

Mr Tour said that he genuinely didn’t recall. Mr Mountney asked another question to which Mr Tour answered that he didn’t recall. Mr Mountney asked if he [Mr Tour] was told or made aware of Alison Mountney’s whistleblowing? Mr Tour said that he didn’t recall, but that if it had been raised with him that he would have been addressing it. Mr Mountney referred to page 28. Someone asked if he meant paragraph 28 to which Mr Mountney replied yes.

Mr Mountney asked a question about Mr Bradfield to which Mr Tour replied with a comment about Mr Bradfield and part responsibility.

Mr Mountney referred to page 10. EJ Robinson said, “What?” to which Mr Mountney replied 6.10. He referred to the bottom appearing above the reference to poll clerk and other posts and asked if it wasn’t up to Alison Mountney, it was up to Kate Robinson?

Mr Tour referred to promotions. He said that Alison Mountney couldn’t remove where an appointment had been made.

Mr Mountney asked another question about staff to which Mr Tour answered no.

Continues at Employment Tribunal Day 6 of 10: Cross-examination of Surjit Tour (Part 2).

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Response from Cllr Jeff Green on the Anna Klonowski Associates report redactions

Response from Cllr Jeff Green on the Anna Klonowski Associates report redactions

Response from Cllr Jeff Green on Improvement Board issues


Following the Improvement Board meeting held in public last month, exactly a month ago I emailed Graham Burgess (Chief Executive), Cllr Phil Davies (Leader of the Labour Group), Cllr Jeff Green (Leader of the Conservative Group) and Cllr Phil Gilchrist (Leader of the Lib Dem Group) about the progress on the commitments made at that meeting.

I indicated in that email that I would publish replies (unless the author stated otherwise) so that the public know what’s happening.

Nearly two weeks ago I received a reply from Cllr Jeff Green (which is below). It made sense to wait a little longer for replies from the others so that they could all be published together. As a month has gone by and I haven’t received a reply from another of the other three, below Cllr Jeff Green’s reply I include my original email. I haven’t changed the colour used for text in Cllr Green’s email, as Leader of the Conservative Group I think it would come as no surprise to people that he writes in blue!

from: Green, Jeff E. (Councillor)
to: john.brace@gmail.com
date: 6 December 2013 14:47
subject: RE: follow up to question and answer session at Friday’s Improvement Board meeting
mailed-by: wirral.gov.uk

Dear John

Thanks for your email. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding.

I think my record is pretty clear on this matter: I have always pushed for an un-redacted copy of the AKA report to be published and have been obstructed at every turn.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant and the sooner the light is shed on the actions of those responsible, the better.

I trust that sets my position out clearly for you.

Best wishes

Jeff Green signature

Cllr. Jeff Green
Leader of the Conservative Group
Ward Councillor for West Kirby & Thurstaston

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cllrjeffgreen
Phone: 07766725125
You can also find me on Facebook

From: John Brace [mailto:john.brace@gmail.com]
Sent: 18 November 2013 11:15
To: Burgess, Graham
Cc: Davies, Phil L. (Councillor); Green, Jeff E. (Councillor); Gilchrist, Phil N. (Councillor)
Subject: follow up to question and answer session at Friday’s Improvement Board meeting

Dear Graham Burgess, Cllr Phil Davies, Cllr Jeff Green and Cllr Phil Gilchrist,

In order that the public know the progress of the commitments made on Friday’s Improvement Board meeting I am publishing this email and will happily also publish any replies unless you indicate that you do not wish your reply to be put in the public domain.

A brief update on some progress I have made on the appendices to the Anna Klonowski Associates Limited report. Appendix B (the Equality and Human Rights Commission Letter dated 29th December 2010) has been helpfully supplied by Paul Cardin.

Appendices C (the first improvement plan) and D (the Care Quality Commission Inspection Report) I discovered at the weekend had already been published by Wirral Council as part of a Cabinet agenda from over three years ago.

Appendix G (the Standards for England decision notices) have already been published too and I am not asking for appendix L (medical information relating to Martin Morton). This just leaves appendices E, F, H, I, J, K, M, N, O, P and Q.

With regards to my supplementary question about appendix P (minutes of the DASS Monitoring and Development Sub Group Meeting), as this was the only meeting minutes referred to in the appendices list I made an error. My question should’ve referred to notes in a different appendix, which contained the notes of the Charging Policy Working Group held on the 22nd August 2005, my apologies for any confusion caused.

I would be interested in receiving an unredacted copy of the notes and accompanying table (unredacted in respect of the three councillors who were there if deleting the redaction of officer names is an insurmountable problem) of the Charging Policy Working Group. The only councillor I am able to ascertain was there so far was Cllr Pat Williams.

With regards to appendix E (charging policy for supported living services) as this was a policy I presume it was agreed by councillors. It therefore can’t be claimed that a policy falls into one of the reasons you gave on Friday for not publishing the appendices. Publishing it would help the public understand the series of events that happened and whether it was an unlawful policy implemented by officers or whether officers acted outside of an agreed policy.

I am sure you (apart from Cllr Gilchrist who couldn’t be there) remember the mood of the public at Friday’s meeting and how although Wirral Council has changed in some ways that convincing the public of that change will be a difficult challenge.

I asked the questions I did on Friday because if the public were informed fully about what actually happened, then knowing what happened and the chain of events that led to it would allow the public to decide for themselves whether the changes made since then would prevent a reoccurence in the future.

Until there is more disclosure of what went happened, despite Wirral Council’s desire to “move on” some members of the public will still want to know and the details of who, what, why, where and when which at the moment are answers that are only filled with speculation.

I hope this sets out my position and I look forward to a more detailed response about the future publication (or the reasons against publication) of the remaining appendices to the Anna Klonowski Associated Limited report and the question about removing the redactions of councillor and officer names (at Head of Service level and above) in the Martin Smith report.

Yours sincerely,
John Brace

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Corporate Governance Committee (Wirral Council) Questionnaire to Councillors (2011)

H:Corporate ServicesHuman ResourcesO DElected Member TrainingMTSG MeetingsCorporate Governance CommitteeBackground Reports & Action PlanSurveyv6 Elected Member Questionnaire.doc


Wirral Council Members Questionnaire

Dear Councillor,

We are all aware of the AKA Governance report. Almost all of us were present at a presentation by Anna Klonowski recently.

One if the areas for action identified by Anna Klonowski in her report was that of Councillor Development and Training.

The Corporate Governance Committee has agreed that myself, with the other members of the Member Training Strategy Group, Cllr Wendy Clements and Cllr Pat Glasman, will co-ordinate activity in this area.

We plan to provide opportunities for us all to reflect on the issues raised by Anna Klonowski, together with appropriate training.

We have in mind to focus on -:

• the roles and responsibilities of Members and Officers
• our roles as individuals and as members of various Committees, including Cabinet.
• our role when holding the Executive and Officers to account.

We do however need to include the needs of everyone. Please could you help by filling in the attached questionnaire. There is of course a vast range of experience amongst Members both inside and outside the Council. Let us know how we can best use this in our programme.

We will keep you informed but in the meanwhile if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact myself or Pat or Wendy.

Cllr Tom Harney


The Questionnaire has two parts:-

Part One is a series of scenarios that ask you to consider how you would respond in certain situations.
Part Two asks questions about your skills and knowledge and how you like to learn.

Please complete the following questions and return your response either by e-mail to melissaholt@wirral.gov.uk or directly to Melissa Holt who is supporting the process at the Organisational Development Team, South Annex, Wallasey, CH44 8ED

Please respond by return but at the very latest by the 16th December in order for the results to be used to inform a Development Programme ready to commence in the New Year.

Part One – Scenarios

Step 1

Please consider the scenarios below and the possible actions available to you.

Step 2

Once you have considered your response, rank them in preference order by placing a number 1, 2 or 3 next to each of them.

1 = this would be the most appropriate response
2 = this would be the next most appropriate response
3 = this would be the least appropriate response

Step 3
Add any alternative actions that you would take. Also please include any comments you would like to make on the scenario.

1) Some reports were due for a Scrutiny Committee. There is a briefing before the meeting and the papers are not available. This is the 3rd time this sort of event has happened.

What action would you take?

a) Talk to the Chairman in advance of the meeting asking that the report be deferred on the basis that it is not available for the briefing. In addition, agree with the Chairman that he/she will write to the Chief Executive cc the Cabinet Member asking for an explanation for the recent failures and remedial action that will be taken?
b) Talk to the Chairman in advance of the meeting asking that the report be deferred on the basis that it is not available for the briefing. Agree with the Chairman that he will raise the issue with the Chief Officer in the briefing seeking an explanation of the continued failures. If this explanation is unacceptable, agree with the Chairman that he/she will write to the Chief Executive cc the Cabinet Member asking for an explanation for the recent failures and remedial action that will be taken?
c) Write to the Chief Executive cc the Cabinet Portfolio holder asking for an explanation and seeking details of the action he/she proposes?

Other actions taken and your comments

2) The Key Performance Indicators reported for a particular Department show that in the 3rd quarter they have under performed but, states that they will have recovered the situation by the 4th quarter. It’s now the end of February (half way through the 4th quarter).

What action would you take?

a) Accept the report

b) Ask the Chief Officer attending the Committee to explain whether performance as of today’s date proves that they will achieve the outturn performance as per the report to the previous committee
c) On receipt of the report agree with the Chairman that he will write to the Chief Officer asking for updated performance information to be submitted in writing to the Committee if necessary on the night to prove that the performance promised in the 3rd quarter will be achieved by the end of the 4th quarter.

Other actions taken and your comments

3) A Chief Officer has submitted an improvement programme. Monthly reports appear to suggest everything in on track but from some feedback at local surgeries, members of the public do not appear to recognise the improvements and are still raising concerns.

How would you react?

a) Write to the Chief Officer detailing the concerns of the members of the public and asking for their response.
b) Write to the Chief Officer cc the relevant Cabinet detailing the concerns of the members of the public and asking for their response)
c) As for (b) but ask to meet the Portfolio Holder seeking proposals as to external verification of the delivery of the inputs, outputs and outcomes from the improvement programme.

Other actions taken and your comments

4) You are conducting a surgery when you are approached by a member of the public who happens to be an employee at Wirral Council. They ask if what they tell you can be kept confidential but then continue to relate a story regarding fraudulent behaviour within the team in which they work.

How would you respond?

a) Listen but tell the individual that this outside of your remit and that they should report it to Internal Audit
b) Tell the individual you intend to discuss the allegation with the Monitoring Officer maintaining their confidentiality as far as possible.
c) Take the issue up personally with the Director of Finance

Other actions taken and your comments

5) In a Committee meeting a fellow Elected Member becomes frustrated by the Officer’s answers to their questions. The Elected Member begins to shout and make unreasonable requests for further information.

How would you deal with this situation?

a) Leave the situation to the Chair as it is their role to manage this kind of thing
b) Propose to the Chair a 5 min cooling off period explaining the Officer’s role

c) Nothing – the situation is indeed very frustrating and venting a little emotion is acceptable

Other actions taken and your comments

6) At a Committee meeting an unexpected report is handed out by an Officer.

What would you do?

a) Look to the Chair to approve the report as urgent and accept the report on the Officer’s recommendation that it is a “good news story”

b) Request an adjournment to understand the detailed and controversial information the report
c) Recommend that the Chair refuses to accept the report and articulate this strongly because you feel due process has not been followed.

Other actions taken and your comments

Part Two – Questions

7) What skills or knowledge could you bring to the work being done by the Council on the topic of Corporate Governance?

8) What are the key skills and areas of knowledge you think you need as a Councillor to practice in a way that shows good corporate governance?

9) Are there any other training or development needs that you have at present?

10) How do you like to learn?


Workshops/ face to face sessions

Reading materials

One to one coaching/ mentoring

11) Do you have any further observations or comments?

Thank you for your time.

An update on the political thinking at the time in the Lib Dems behind the Martin Morton saga

The below is information revealed by the court order granted by Deputy Disctict Judge Ireland in Mr. John Brace v Cllr Alan Brighouse on behalf of the Birkenhead and Mr. John Brace v Liberal Democrats (the Federal Party) on behalf of the Liberal Democrats.

It was written by former councillors Simon Holbrook and Ann Bridson in May 2011. It is published because of the public interest surrounding this issue and it was sent to me (John Brace) in May 2012.

This forms an attachment to an email (since deleted) between Simon Holbrook and Cllr Patricia Williams and Cllr Alan Brighouse sent around the 30th May 2011. Italics are my response to the issues raised.

It’s published under the provisions that surround court reporting. The publisher regards the publication of it as absolutely privileged under the publishing provisions that apply to court proceedings.

The outcome of the legal case was that Cllr Alan Brighouse on behalf of the Birkenhead Liberal Democrats and Liberal Democrats (the Federal Party) on behalf of the Liberal Democrats were found liable for not sharing it in response to the subject access request of John Brace made around the 4th June 2011.

Appendix – Case against John Brace

1. Smearing of Sitting Councillors

In an email to Cllr Gilchrist dated 19 May 2011 at 09:59, John Brace did link the Standards investigation into Cllr Williams’ and Cllr Bridson’s part in the “special charging policy” with that of the recent investigation into the way in which Martin Morton had been treated, despite the fact that these are two totally seperate matters.

Cllr Williams and Cllr Bridson are not and were not under investigation into the alleged bullying of Martin Morton. This investigation, which was instigated by former Cllr Holbrook has now concluded and reported. It never was and never had been a matter for the Standards Board of England.

At the time this matter was still being considered by the Standards Board for England, who according to Wirral Council’s website had instructed the IAP to be reconvened as the Martin Morton complaint relating to Cllr Bridson had “mysteriously vanished” from a filing cabinet (the first complaint of Martin Morton didn’t include Cllr Bridson). The Cabinet Member with democratic accountability for this area was former Cllr Simon Holbrook. Cllr Williams was the Lib Dem representative on the Charging Policy Working Group in 2005 that decided on the policy and during some of the period concerned Cllr Bridson was Cabinet Member for Social Care and Inclusion. The Charging Policy Working Group minutes formed an appendix to the Anna Klonowski report that wasn’t circulated in the public version, but known about internally at Wirral Council since the Audit and Risk Management Committee meeting.

2. Disclosure of Confidential Information

John Brace did disclose on the Wirral Globe website blog, discussions that took place within the Birkenhead Executive Committee. Meetings of the Birkenhead Executive Lib Dems are internal party matters and therefore as such confidential to members of the Liberal Democrats and not for general publication.

These disclosures resulted in a senior Councillor from outside Birkenhead (Phil Gilchrist) being sufficiently concerned to raise the matter with the Constituency Chair (Cllr Williams).

The information was not confidential as s.29 of the Data Protection Act 1998 would make the disclosure exempt from the first data protection principle. The conviction of Cllr Warren Bradley (former Lib Dem Leader on Liverpool City Council) for false statements in his nomination papers should show that making any false statement on a nomination paper is a criminal offence. See original comment here dated 9.08am 9th May 2011.
3. Making False Allegations in Public

The matters disclosed in point 2 above questioned the eligibility of Simon Holbrook to have stood as the Lib Dem Candidate in Prenton at the recent local elections. John Brace also questioned the appropriateness of Cllr Ann Bridson signing Simon Holbook’s nomination papers. The allegation is that this was a denial of the democratic process to Birkenhead party members.

This point of mine (although this part of the complaint was withdrawn by the complainant as were many other parts) was upheld by the panel, who stated “The Panel expressed their concern about the organisation of Wirral’s selection procedures and felt that the problems should be addressed and resolved.”

The same blog also contains a statement insulting to all Wirral Lib Dem Councillors which said that when Simon Holbrook says “do something, unfortunately his councillors do it.”

Well they were whipped to vote for the closure of a dozen libraries, some Lib Dem councillors voted against and found themselves subject to yes you guessed it party disciplinary procedures following a complaint. The resulting public inquiry headed by Sue Charteris proved they were right though. At the time Simon Holbrook said in public meetings that the Cabinet’s position (which he had been a part of in proposing the library closures) would be vindicated by the public inquiry. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t.

4. Making an Unsubstantiated Allegation of a Complaint

In an email to Cllr Pat Williams dated 19 May 2011 at 00:05, John Brace did allege that former Cllr Simon Holbrook had made a complaint about his conduct, when no such complaint had been made.

In the same email, he made reference to Simon Holbrook’s personal statement that he will not seek elected office in 2012 and concentrate on his professional career and seeks to link that with his own comment on website blogs with no factual justification.

So when drunk, calling me despicable in a party meeting in relation to the issues outlined in 8 is not complaining? That comment on the blog was based on Simon Holbrook’s press release yet has no factual justification?? Is the complainant saying their own press release has no factual justification?
5. Seeking to Attend a Civic Function without an Invitation

That together with Leonora Brace, John Brace did seek to attend the celebration party following the Mayor Making ceremony despite not having received an invitation to the event. When challenged, John Brace did inappropriately attempt to claim that his possession of a “Press Card” entitled him to attend this invitation only civic function.

Note: John and Leonora Brace did attend part 1 of the Annual Council meeting from the public gallery, which they are entitled to do so.

Completely untrue, part 1 of the Annual Council meeting is held in the Civic Hall and for years the gallery there has been out of use as it’s classed as “unsafe”. To be honest, nobody uses it any more. The public gallery is above the Council Chamber where part 2 was held. Both of us have special dietary requirements so we don’t attend parties and I certainly don’t gatecrash things.

6. Giving a False Impression of Holding Public Office

In a seperate blog John Brace did write, “Although in theory I hold the position of councillor, it’s not with Wirral Council and like the Mayoress of Wirral Mrs Jennings is unelected so am I, as like with the Mayoress it’s to do with who I’m married to.”

This remark appeared in a blog speculating about the future shape of the Council administration. Although its purpose is unclear, it does seek to give credibility to the comments through claiming an association with a public office.

My wife does hold a position with a government unit on a reservation in Canada, which means she’s on the Council of Elders, due to the nature of the position and being married to her I hold a position too. 

7. Did Make Allegations in his Blog of Irregularties in the Count

In a blog following the local elections, John Brace claimed that the votes had not been counted properly. He sought to compare the declared result with his own canvass returns to justify his claim that his own votes had not been counted properly. In the same blog, he inappropriately said that a large number of votes in Oxton changed hands on the recount.

There was a problem with how the votes were counted in Bidston & St. James, so the result was altered slightly before it was declared. The Labour candidate in Oxton asked for a recount and the majority of the Lib Dem candidate was reduced by about a eighty votes after a recount (which is pretty usual as recounts never give the same result).

8. Making an Unjustified Complaint against a Lib Dem Councillor to the Standards Board for England

John Brace did report Cllr Ann Bridson to the Standards Board over the seating arrangements for members of the public at a meeting of the Health Scrutiny Committee. The complaint was investigated at significant public expense and dismissed as unfounded.

The complaint had the potential to be damaging to the reputation of a party colleague, yet at no time did John Brace seek to discuss the matter about which he felt aggreived with Cllr Bridson, or any other member of the Liberal Democrat Council Group.

Not true, the only complaint made in the last four years about Cllr Bridson that got referred to the Standards Board for England was made by Martin Morton. Members of the public couldn’t complain directly to the Standards Board for England following a change in legislation four years ago. The first paragraph is untrue as it was referred for alternative action, compared to other complaints investigated around the time it cost far less (on a per complainant cost), as mentioned in the witness statements the matter was raised with former councillor Ann Bridson who merely replied, “I’m not prepared to listen to arguments from members of the public”. This conversation was in fact witnessed by someone else. 

So there to summarise you have now the reasons the Lib Dems tried to suspend which were:-

1) Spin over Martin Morton and asking the wrong sort of questions.

2) Expecting party members to abide by the party’s constitution.

3) Party Members being denied the opportunity to choose their candidate and Simon Holbrook’s attitude towards others.

4) Basing a blog post on a Lib Dem press release, means it has “no factual justification”.

5) Completely made up as anyone who attended that meeting would know but relates to disabilty.

6) Confusion by Simon Holbrook but relates to me being married.

7) This happened and is documented.

8) I never made a complaint that was referred to Standards for England, the original complaint originated from the fact my wife and I are disabled. The covering report written by Surjit Tour that went to the Wirral Council Standards Committee panel that made the final decision, was for a completely different complaint made by someone else.

My wife was selected as the Claughton candidate that year, once Cllr Bridson found out about the complaint about her she asked her friend Margaret Teggin instead which bullied Leonora Brace into withdrawing. This part of the complaint was written by Ann Bridson, who managed to get the other co-complainant about her barred from “seeking any elected public office for the party for five years”.

So comments anyone or would you like to know more?

Following the Court Order of 18th April 2012 and a Lib Dem smear: My response

Following the Birkenhead County Court order of 18th April 2012 naming Cllr Alan Brighouse on behalf of the Birkenhead Liberal Democrats granted by Deputy District Judge Ireland following the court hearing of the 4th April 2012, the Lib Dems have finally coughed up the original complaint (not shared with me until now 12 months later, despite their constitution stating 10 weeks) made about me by Simon Holbrook in May 2011 (after he lost his seat). I’ve sought advice and am making parts of it public (as there’s a public interest to at least parts of it being made public), along with my version of events (which seems far closer to reality than his complaint, my comments are in italics). Here’s section 1:-

“1. Smearing of Sitting Councillors

In an email to Cllr Gilchrist dated 19 May 2011 at 09:59, John Brace did link the Standards investigation into Cllr Williams’ and Cllr Bridson’s part in the “special charging policy” with that of the recent investigation into the way in which Martin Morton was treated, despite the fact these are two separate matters.

Cllr Williams and Cllr Bridson are not and were not under investigation into the alleged bullying of Martin Morton. This investigation, which was instigated by former Cllr Holbrook has now concluded and reported. It never was and never had been a matter for the Standards Board for England.”

As is detailed here it was considered twice by the Standards Board for England, as initially the complaint about Cllr Bridson hadn’t been sent to them. The complaint (or complaints as a second was submitted) were made by Martin Morton and had already been reported in the Wirral Globe under the headline Town hall blunder: Wrong paperwork sent to local government watchdog inquiry prior to Simon’s complaint about me.

One of these two councillors had been on the charging policy working group in 2005 that led to the overcharging policy, the other had been Cabinet Member for Social Care and Inclusion (which covers Social Services) during part of the period that the overcharging occurred.

The report referred to, the Martin Smith report, was reported to Cabinet on 14th April 2011, however it was not made public until the following year due to the Labour administration’s attempts to delay both its publication and the AKA report.

The relevant section of my email of 19th May to Cllr Gilchrist (and Cllrs Williams, Brighouse, Kelly, Bridson, Harney, Gilchrist, Mitchell and two other party members), is quoted below.

“Morale in the party is extremely low, the Chair and the Vice-Chair of the local party are currently (according to the Wirral Globe) under investigation on standards grounds following a decision by Wirral Council’s Independent Assessment Panel to refer the matter to Standards for England regarding their roles in the Social Services “special charging policy” and how Martin Morton was treated. This independent report (by now read by councillors but currently exempt) will be published within 2-5 months and will lead to a public discussion of their roles in this saga. Both are likely to be candidates in 2012 and the full reasons how and why they did things will have to be made clear to the public and party in the spirit of openness and accountability if we are to move on.”

Lastly Simon Holbrook refers to himself in the third person, which generally wouldn’t be the case if as claimed he was the author of the complaint. However it’s clear by the way it was written that somebody wanted me to stop asking questions by the way flat out denials were made regarding the standards complaints.

The decision notice of Standards Board for England with regards to Cllr Williams and Cllr Bridson back me up as to what the complaint was about. As it was re referred back to Standards for England following the paperwork mixup, there are earlier decision notices regarding Cllr Williams, Roberts and McLaughlin too.