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Bonkers Blog May 2011

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3 May (Part 2) - Will sick Nick be nicked?

A Daily Mail webpage headline Permanently sick Nick Johnson hard at workBexley council’s accusation of harassment got this blog noticed in places it hadn’t penetrated before. Within 48 hours The Independent on Sunday, planning an article on the £50,000 ‘permanently sick’ pension that Bexley taxpayers are forced to stump up for its former chief executive Nick Johnson, was asking questions. I answered some and gave Jonathan Owen, the journalist, some contacts I thought might prove helpful. As recently as last Friday members of the Bonkers team were still in contact with The Indie journalist and at that stage it wasn’t a certainty that the article would appear, but it did. You can read it on line at The Independent’s website. The Mail on Sunday jumped on the bandwagon by updating a report it had first made last October.

The new thing that the Indie reports is that HM Revenue & Customs is taking an interest. Teresa Pearce MP for Erith & Thamesmead and former senior tax investigator at PricewaterhouseCoopers is quoted as saying “it’s not within the spirit of the law, definitely not” and “within a year of him being judged to be in permanently ill health he was pictured in a hard hat, with a spade, digging, in a brochure for Hammersmith & Fulham Homes – this is just so barefaced that it’s insulting. Whatever he is paid for holding that office should go through the payroll and it doesn’t. HMRC should investigate this.”

It’s refreshing to find an MP willing to speak up for injustice and unafraid to question shady deals head on; unlike some whose ability to sit on the fence and face all directions at once never ceases to amaze. Essex man got the measure of James Brokenshire (MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup) when he was rejected as prospective MP for Witham for being "slick but ‘too clever’ by qualifying every statement”. That looks like it was a razor sharp perception but I suppose he has his climb towards Home Secretary to consider above all else. Upset the local constituency party and you could be in big trouble. Three weeks ago The Sunday Telegraph reported that Bromley & Chislehurst Conservatives were threatening their MP Bob Neill with deselection if he continued to issue guidance that councillors should do the decent thing and reduce their allowances and open up meetings to bloggers and Tweeters etc. Are there no honourable Tories any more or is scheming for their own ends all they know? The fearless Olly Cromwell has something to say on the same subject - in his own inimitable style of course.

I think I have wandered a little from my intended point with this blog; which was that whoever reported me to the police last month set up some sort of butterfly effect. (A butterfly flapping its wings in China can set off a tornado in the Caribbean - or similar.) Such idiocy could yet be a contributory factor in another high level investigation into Bexley’s rotten council. For the record, a leaker told me it was councillor Craske who thought it was a good idea to call in plod. That could be a wind-up, I don’t know and I doubt my Subject Access Request will turn up anything useful, especially if the leaker is correct and some idiot loner was responsible.


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