The Gold news
award must go to Bexley council’s malicious prosecution of John Kerlen, the blogger Olly Cromwell. They failed to get him for Harassment so in
cahoots with their friends in the police they went for section 127 of the
Communications Act only to be pipped at the post by an Appeal Judge who listened to the
prosecution case and announced that Olly had
no case to answer.
Along the way a few interesting things came to light.
In the Magistrates’ Court I heard councillor Melvin Seymour say that his only meeting with Olly Cromwell ended when John slammed a door in his face. Both Olly and his wife told me it was a lie but as I wasn’t there I could only harbour my suspicions. But there was no doubt that Seymour lied under oath at the appeal hearing. I heard him say that Olly encouraged people to put dog faeces and “anything else deemed appropriate” through his letter box, when everyone who saw the Tweets knows there was no mention of dog faeces, letter boxes or “anything else”. Those who were in Court will have heard the witless witness councillor Sandra Bauer say she had read the Tweets to Seymour and sent them to him. In typical Bexley council fashion the whole expensive fiasco was based on a lie.
But the lying didn’t end in Court. A council spokesman told the News Shopper that the Judge found Olly’s Tweet to be offensive and that the restraining order had been kept in place. In fact the Judge said only that the Tweet may have been “uncivilised” and the C word “may be offensive to some people”. The restraining order was relaxed to the point the only thing Olly cannot do is contact Seymour directly. All his democratic rights were restored. And in an interesting insight into how Bexley council chooses to operate, its spokesman said it was "disappointed" that a miscarriage of justice had been averted.
Councillor Val Clark is awarded the Silver for her sterling effort to get councillor Alan Downing off the hook for his bad tempered reaction to a simple request to switch a microphone on. Val Clark took inventiveness to a new level. Among her submissions were that a councillor is not a councillor after official business is concluded. So if you see one in the street please call him Mister.
Remember too that if you are deaf and intend to attend a council meeting you should give them notice - unless of course Val Clark was simply lying to excuse mayor Downing his trip to see the Monitoring Officer for some valuable advice. It’s always possible where Clark is concerned.
Limping home in third place is Chief Executive Will Tuckley who suffered an unfortunate injury to his writing hand, preventing him from replying to any Freedom of Information requests or answering any letters for the past six weeks. When he is fully recovered we may learn a little of what he does to justify his quarter million pounds of sponsorship money and how many councillors have been subject to criminal investigation in the past 18 months.
Bexley council; inspiring a generation.