Havering Residents Association today write:
The H.R.A have complained on three separate occasions about the proposed process of investigating the ‘gerrymandering’ audio recording and its independence. As these requests have been ignored, the H.R.A have had no other option but to resort to the legal process.
Councillor Gillian Ford on behalf of the H.R.A had submitted the following to Havering Council:
“As you will be fully aware, this is a matter of significant public interest. However, by looking at this from the residents perspective, an independent review would require the reviewing officer and the subject of review to be independent of each other.
As Andrew Blake-Herbert was the Chief Executive and employer of [yourself], with an ongoing relationship through OneSource, the public are therefore unlikely to consider this as an impartial appointment or in the public interest.
I therefore ask on behalf of H.R.A, that the Monitoring Officer selected to oversee the review, be demonstrably independent and not connected to Members or Officers of Havering.”
As the requests have been ignored, the H.R.A have had no other option but to resort to the legal process and to this end, on Friday 4th September, Daniel Fenwick the appointed Investigating Officer Monitoring Officer of Newham, was sent a letter from Barrister Simon Bell, of Knights Solicitorson behalf of the H.R.A.
The letter was very clear that the audio recording revealed an attempt to manipulate the Local Government Boundary Commission for England Process, for the benefit of the Conservative Party:
“The intention to manipulate the process is clearly stated to be an attempt to achieve a potential increase in the Conservative Party’s share of the vote in future elections if the submission was accepted by the LGBC.”
It went on to say that the recording had the potential to be career ending:
“The allegations made in the complaint and evidenced in the recording, are potentially career ending for any politician (Local or National) and Council official if they are found to be proven.”
The letter reiterated H.R.A concerns over the membership and independence of the Adjudication and Review Committee.
“You will be aware that the complaint concerns not just the conduct of Cllr. Damian White, but also the fact that the majority of Conservative Party Group members were in attendance, and seemingly in agreement, with the strategy being set out by Cllr. Damian White. A number of these members sit on the Adjudication and Review Committee, …..There are questions, therefore, as to whether given the limited pool of Councillors sitting on this Committee a truly independent Panel can be constituted…”