A BETTER BOURNEMOUTH
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From: Councillor Peter Charon
Sent: 03 April 2011 10:12
To: Council Conservative Group
Subject: Formal Complaints
Dear Group Colleagues,
I am sorry to disturb you when I know how hard everyone is working on the ground. From what I have seen and heard to date, I am certainly very encouraged but by no means complacent. Please everyone keep up the really excellent efforts, deliveries and canvassing and the reward is there for the taking.
I am writing to you on a very serious matter.
May I please ask everyone to note the contents of this email, but please do not respond by email. If anyone wishes to discuss anything at all, please telephone me at home.
By now, all of you will of course know that John was completely vindicated and declared innocent of any wrongdoing at his recent Tribunal Hearing. The Tribunal has also published the reasons why it came to the decision that it did.
I do not wish to go into too much detail here, but suffice it to say that as far as John, myself and Cabinet are concerned, there is irrefutable documentary evidence in the bundle that was prepared for the hearing to show that above all else, this Investigation should never have taken place at all. The reason is simple enough. That the entire matter, including all of the facets of John’s relationship with the Ramsden family was discussed and agreed with everyone concerned in January 2008. The Monitoring Officer was at the heart of those discussions and knew everything that she needed to know, something that she subsequently denied under oath. She also sent a potentially enormously embarrassing and quite frankly scandalous email about John’s private life – which had absolutely nothing to do with the investigation but could have cost anyone in a similar position the breakdown of their domestic relationship with a spouse or partner.
For all of those reasons, the fundamental “mutuality agenda” – of trust, respect and understanding – between Cabinet and the Monitoring Officer, both individually and collectively, has irretrievably broken down.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer too is implicated, almost, but not quite as much as the Monitoring Officer. The reason is that she too participated in meetings in January 2008 and was part of the agreed solution. This is confirmed by documentary evidence. Yet she made no mention of any of this, and bearing in mind that she was responsible for building the case for the Council against John, we find it almost incredible that she brought none of this to the attention of the Standards Board at the first opportunity.
Finally, and very regrettably, a more junior officer in the Democratic Services Team is involved as well – again because she knew about the events of Jan 2008 and when asked to provide a Witness Statement, which she did, no mention of that involvement was made. It almost certainly would have made a significant difference.
On the basis of the above therefore, formal procedures are now beginning to happen. I have written, on behalf of the Cabinet, to Cllr Ben Grower, in his capacity as Chair of Audit & Governance, explaining the position and stating that we are currently in the position of having no confidence in the current Monitoring Officer, and will not accept any advice that she provides as sound. He will be taking the matter up with the Chief Executive from an Audit & Governance perspective.
Tomorrow, both John and I will be writing formally to the Chief Executive laying out our concerns and requesting that she deals with the matter as a formal complaint. As one of the people involved is the Monitoring Officer, one of only 2 Statutory Positions, what happens thereafter is prescribed in law and the C/E will be bound to follow those procedures. That is not the same for the Deputy Monitoring Officer or of course any more junior officers.
Some of you may be thinking, could this not have waited? The answer is no because of the breakdown and indeed the sooner we acted, the sooner measures would start to be taken. Many of you would have already seen articles in the paper, so it would not be credible to pretend that nothing was amiss.
Finally, and very much as an aside, the most ironic thing is that throughout the last 3+ years, Roger West has been very busy exchanging all sorts of emails with several planning agents, who have appeared before him as a Planning Board Member. Some of those emails contain highly sensitive (and totally false) allegations of wrongdoing – indeed bringing the entire Planning Function into disrepute – yet he never once declared a personal interest. Those of you on the Planning Board will have received a copy of my email to him yesterday – to which he has briefly replied this morning – saying he will give it his full attention and reply in due course. No doubt.
So colleagues, I wanted to bring these very serious issues to your attention so that you heard them from me – rather than anyone else. As soon as the C/E hears from me and John tomorrow I am in no doubt that she will bring this formally to the attention of the other Group Leaders and then it will be in the public domain within one hour. If this does become an issue of any kind in the campaign, I will provide a steer but we will need to be very careful not to say or do anything that could lead to a claim for constructive dismissal. The evidence itself is compelling.
Again, please, note the contents of this email and please call me to discuss anything – but put nothing in writing as anything could be captured under Freedom of Information.
Best wishes to you all for the campaign.
Cllr Peter Charon
Conservative Group Leader