When I started this blog Bexley Council was crammed solid with the dodgiest
of people. Deputy Leader
Colin Campbell mentioned yesterday was by no means the worst of them. Ian Clement, the Council Leader had
abused his Council credit card and his expenses to the tune of £2,200 and
got away with it because his successor, one Teresa O’Neill, refused to do
anything about it. He was caught out when he pulled the same trick, but only for
£227, when he became Deputy Mayor at the GLA. He was sentenced to three months, suspended.
Another bad one was Chief Executive Nick Johnson. In a one to one deal with Clement he arranged for his retirement on grounds of ill health and received a reported £300,000 pay off and a £50,000 annual pension for life all at Bexley taxpayers’ expense. Then he went off and got much the same sort of job with Hammersmith Council his dodgy ticker having miraculously cured itself.
Dropping down to Director and Deputy Director level found much the same. Mike Frizoni ran a draconian parking regime criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman at a time when Bexley Council had two parking contracts, one for public consumption and another which broke the law. Their own auditor condemned it as maladministration - 13 times.
Mark Charters who had been Director of Children’s Services in Bexley at a time when OFSTED was awarding the borough the worst ratings possible went to wreak the same havoc on the Isle of Man. Less than a year later he had to leave and when last heard of was seeking refuge on the island of St. Helena as their Director of Safeguarding.
His deputy was Sheila Murphy who did nothing to prevent the death of Rhys Lawrie. His mother reported herself as being likely to do him a mischief, the doctors and teachers did the same but Bexley Council failed to react - not until he was dead that is.
The whole story is indexed here and eventually his mother’s boyfriend was imprisoned for manslaughter. His grandfather does not believe a word of it because the boyfriend could not have been in the house at the time and paramedics who could have confirmed it were not allowed to be witnesses in Court.
The grandfather believes that Bexley Council and the police connived to cover the Council’s neglect and successfully shifted the blame from mother to boyfriend because the case was close to being another Baby P (Connolly) in Haringey. He uncovered a great deal of evidence and Sheila Murphy did not come out of it well at all but the Serious Case Review glossed over her involvement. The review was conveniently authored by her former boss Rory Patterson.
Mick Barnbrook queried that association in a Public Question at a Full Council meeting in November 2014 but Cabinet Member Philip Read refused to answer the question on the grounds that Mick was trying to smear Ms. Murphy and that he was not obliged to answer questions from former members of the BNP.
Despite Read’s denial of any close cooperation the conclusion was drawn that Sheila Murphy and Rory Patterson were indeed mates who helped each other. Five years later an anonymous email reminds me of just how close that association might be. Not only did they work together in Bexley but they are still doing so; this time in Thurrock.
“Mr. Patterson appointed Mr. Archibald.” Same old tricks.
Much more worrying is the allegation that children have again died while in
their care and allegedly The Thurrock Independent newspaper has been gagged. A
News Shopper reporter once told me that Bexley Council tried that on too.
Thurrock Council seems to make a habit of it.
Perhaps because of the gagging, little news is available on the subject beyond the initial allegation; maybe my anonymous correspondent could provide a bit more evidence?
Meanwhile all we know is that Cabinet Member Philip Read’s assertion that asking a former Bexley Director to report on his subordinate in the case of a child death that had already aroused grave suspicions looks even more like part of the cover up by Bexley Council into Rhys Lawrie’s death than it did five years ago.
We should be grateful that all of the charlatans mentioned above are no longer in Bexley.