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Bonkers Blog September 2013

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24 September (Part 3) - The Labour line on councillor Cheryl Bacon’s ‘Closed Session’ meeting

The following report - and some yet to come - is based on Bexley council’s response to Michael Barnbrook’s Freedom of Information request which he submitted following Lynn Tyler’s letter of 23rd August. The one where she claimed that councillor Cheryl Bacon did nothing wrong when she excluded members of the public from the Public Realm meeting on 19th June 2013.

Mrs. Tyler’s latest covering letter reveals that the one Labour councillor she interviewed was Stefano Borella. I have not yet seen any evidence that she interviewed a Conservative councillor in addition to the predicted Cheryl Bacon as claimed in her first letter. It also repeats the lie that councillor Bacon spoke to “a group of persons” who were sitting “near to one another”. She admits that Bacon did not speak to “one other member of the public who was sitting apart from this group of people”. It is possible that that one other person was me at ‘the bloggers’ table’ but it could be Mr. Danny Hackett who if I remember correctly was sitting several seats to the right of that group, behind me and possibly in the row behind ‘the group’.
Letter extract
Mrs. Tyler confirms that no member of the public gained entry to the reconvened meeting in Room 105 which is not surprising given the admission that councillor Cheryl Bacon announced it was a “Closed Session” and told Mr. Barnbrook specifically that he was not allowed in. No one else asked after that. So how did councillor Borella describe the meeting?

Stefano says he arrived early at the meeting and noted that Mr. Dowling and Mr. Knight (me) were present. He reports that “Danny Hackett, a Labour party member was also present separate from the other group” thereby implying I was with the group which wasn’t true. I shall assume he did not intend to do that but Mrs. Tyler may have drawn a different conclusion.

Councillor Borella then accurately reported how Nicholas Dowling sought permission to record the meeting relating how Nicholas was “not aggressive”. This is in stark contrast to councillor Colin Campbell’s lies on TV when he referred to it being “quite obvious from the beginning they were there to disrupt the meeting. They have a history of disruption and they stuck an iphone about six inches from the face of the chairman”. But a Bexley cabinet member lying non-stop is not exactly news is it?

Borella believed Nicholas was recording the meeting which is fair enough, it wasn’t until the end of the meeting that I discovered otherwise when I asked Nicholas for a play back. However he is alleged to have said of “the group sitting together“ that “one or two of them kept up a running commentary”. Not all of them you will note and if it were true it should be remembered that the meeting was for the most part in adjournment. However there was no constant commentary from any of them. I looked on in amazement at Mick Barnbrook who said not a word because he is no shrinking violet and has been known to address the chair directly. However this time he did not. The only comments I was aware of is that Elwyn Bryant twice walked over to speak to me directly which I found a little embarrassing. As I have said before, councillor June Slaughter was no more than a few feet from me and I could feel her eyes on me for much of the time. She said nothing but her look said it all.

Borella then says that Cheryl Bacon “announced that she was going into a closed session meeting” and that “council staff looked for Danny Hackett to inform him that he could attend the reconvened meeting”. This will be useful information when I take my exclusion to the Local Government Ombudsman. I have a statement to the effect I was not part of ‘the group’ and an admission that Cheryl Bacon did not feel it was necessary to speak to me, yet I was not invited to the reconvened meeting.
Bexley Action Group Council chamberThe fact is that the statement is a lie although I concede that Lynn Tyler claims only that Stefano Borella said it was his understanding. While waiting for the police to arrive I spent much of the time speaking to Danny, mainly about his forthcoming candidate selection meeting. He considered himself illegally excluded from the public meeting the same as I was and was present when the photographs to show that all the members of the public had been left unsupervised in the chamber were taken, The alleged disrupters evidently trusted not to wreck the place.

It is notable that Mrs. Tyler has twice assured Mr. Barnbrook that no member of the public was unlawfully excluded from the reconvened meeting and arrangements were in place to ensure that those other than ‘the group’ could attend but no one actually did so, not even Danny Hackett, the Labour party member. Did Danny refuse to attend out of solidarity with fellow members of the public or is Lynn Tyler engaged in frantic efforts to shut the legal stable door long after the horse has bolted?

Letter extract
Mrs. Tyler conducted her interviews six weeks after the ‘Closed Session’ meeting.

More to come on this…

Lynn Tyler’s summary of her interview with Labour councillor Stefano Borella. It is important to recognise that this is not a signed statement by Stefano Borella. When lying it makes sense to leave as many escape routes as possible.


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