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News and Comment January 2017

Index: 2019202020212022

30 January - Council and police compete in the corruption stakes

I used to be optimistic that exposing Bexley Council’s worst excesses and the lies required to conceal them might eventually lead to it cleaning up its act. I am inclined to think it has to some extent, or maybe they have become more expert at covering their tracks. The new Chief Executive has certainly gone out of her way to stop staff and Councillors making contact, but despite the literal barriers erected, conversations have not been choked off entirely.

What we haven’t had recently is a major scandal, last year only the Masseys behaved like total idiots. It’s a long time since anyone died because of Bexley Council’s mismanagement.

They privatised the Link Line to a company which presumably will not staff their emergency switchboard with just one trainee and hope for the best. In Bexley a lady died alone because of Bexley’s incomprehensible staffing decision.

Cabinet Member Philip Read claims to have transformed Children’s Services since he took over from Katie Perrior, now working in Downing Street.

I have no inside knowledge of Children’s Services except that I too often hear of kiddy snatching but the initiatives and figures coming out of Philip Read’s department suggest that is unlikely to again neglect children to the point of death and the Deputy Director who made so many poor decisions no longer works in Bexley.

Rhys LawrieLong term readers may recall three year old Rhys Lawrie who suffered 38 serious injuries to his tiny body which were said to have been caused by a fall from a sofa.

His mother moved to Erith in October 2007 following a career in the Army which had sectioned her because of mental instabilities. In Erith she reported herself to medical staff because of urges to harm her baby. The medics made a report to Bexley Council which ignored it.

From 2007 to 2010 Rhys was in and out of hospital constantly with injuries that were blamed on epilepsy. His mother banned his grandparents from seeing him. When he attended pre-school covered in bruises the teachers reported the situation to Bexley Council and again it took no action.

By January 2011 Rhys was dead and a mentally challenged 16 year old was convicted of his manslaughter.

Rhys’s grandfather unearthed a great deal of evidence that suggested it was a wrongful conviction. By studying end of school times and bus times he concluded that the 16 year old boy could not have been present when Rhys died. He was convinced the mother was implicated.

The first ambulance men on the scene confirmed that the boy was not there but the mother was. Inexplicably they were not called as witnesses for the defence.

The case bore remarkable similarities to Haringey’s Baby P. case which was still in the news at the time.

The theory was that Bexley Council was so concerned that their failure to protect Rhys or help his mother had been a major factor in the death that they prevailed upon the police to find another killer. A mentally retarded 16 year old who was a regular visitor to the house was a Godsend.

However despite the pathologist’s report the police initially decided the death was an accident and failed to secure what should have been declared a crime scene. Rhys’s mother spent the night of his death, not grieving or being comforted by friends but scrubbing the house clean of all forensic evidence.

Whether Bexley Council really did a deal with the police is uncertain but they made sure that the author of the Serious Case Review was a former Bexley Director, so not exactly impartial, and Philip Read refused to answer a question about the case. The lack of transparency raises suspicions.

Rhys’s grandfather continues to study the evidence relating to what he believes was a miscarriage of justice and recently discovered something new.

A [named] Detective Inspector made a secret pact with Rhys’s mother that if she kept quiet about her being able to wipe a Crime Scene clean she in return would be offered immunity from prosecution.

The pact was approved by a [named] Detective Superintendent after which no one was prepared to rescind it.

Despite Rhys’s mother being innocent of his killing under the law Bexley Council took another of her children into care and to this day she is only allowed infrequent supervised visits. The grandfather is convinced that Bexley Council knows who killed Rhys but admitting it at the time would have landed them in far too much trouble.


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