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Complaint following councillor Cheryl Bacon
holding a Public Meeting in Closed Session

Public Realm meeting of 19th June 2013

Dear Mr Tuckley,

You have complained in your three page letter dated 4 December of the expense involved in its preparation but it was your decision to explore avenues of very little interest to me and ignore the opportunity to resolve the complaint the honest way. I suggested more than once that you simply interview those councillors best able to observe proceedings at the Public Realm meeting, a course which may have led to a quick and inexpensive resolution.

I know that some councillors would be happy to be interviewed because I have written assurance of it but it would seem that you prefer to listen only to the subject of my complaint. Perhaps you did not notice that the witnesses supposedly supporting councillor Bacon have not reported the disruption she claims to have seen and two of those three witnesses have told me, one in writing, that they did not authorise the statements attributed to them.

Not being at the meeting and relying for evidence on the subject of the complaint who had no clear line of sight to me looks very much like deliberate malfeasance on your part but before I pass the evidence to outside bodies I would be obliged if you could state clearly if you have found anyone who disputes that I sat alone and silent from just before the meeting began until it was taken into Closed Session. If I am to report your failure to investigate my complaint properly it is important that I should do so free of the possibility that you merely missed the main point accidentally, hence my final request.

Another interpretation of your letter is that the truth is of no consequence as exclusions are acceptable if one person fails to comply with your rules but every member of the public present is known to each other. A dangerous precedent which only a thoroughly corrupt council could contemplate.

You have said that if I wish to avoid such perverse rulings in future I should take steps to disassociate myself from other regular attendees at meetings. May I remind you that I and the group to which you refer were all sitting exactly as directed by committee officer John Adams. I was as far from the group as it is possible to get without encroaching on councillors’ territory. What additional steps do you suggest I take?

You have accused me of making trivial complaints which may suggest that an incompetent has drafted your letter. Apart from a couple of requests to photograph a meeting and a response to an email initiated by a council officer, my correspondence in the past three years has related only to criminal acts committed by Bexley council. I long ago decided that it would be too time consuming to involve myself with anything less.

The first was the matter of the obscene blog (May 2011) traced to a councillor’s IP address which you said at the time was “a serious criminal offence” prompting your own letter to the police, albeit one in which you attempted to pin the crime on me.

From 2011 to recent times I made no further complaint, not even after councillor Bacon so spectacularly mismanaged the Public Realm meeting last June and would have continued my no comment policy had I not discovered Bexley council distributing libellous material under the Freedom of Information Act. It was the untruthful content which prompted my complaint not the data protection issues.

Your suggestion that placing the material on my website negates your data breach is child-like in its naivety. As your FOI officer is fond of saying when refusing requests, a response under FOI is not private to the recipient, it is in law a public distribution. Even if it were otherwise, my own publication is not comparable because I allowed the reader to see everything in context. It is called total transparency, a concept you may find alien.

Councillor Bacon’s account supported by a long covering letter was an almost wholly untruthful set of fabrications she hoped might conceal her mistakes. It libelled several members of the public and had I taken your advice to dissociate myself from the recipient I might never have learned of it.

My complaint is that the information distributed was false, the procedural errors are minor incidentals and that remains my view.

Your letter says it is a Stage 3 response to my email of 28th October but I fail to see how it is. That email asked you to enlighten me as to which part of my original complaint was “hostile, abusive, offensive and unreasonable”. It was clearly none of those things. The email received no Stage 1 response and your Stage 3 makes no reference to its content whatsoever.

In addition to the confirmation sought in my third paragraph, please tell me how that complies with your own Code of Conduct on complaints handling.

Yours sincerely,

Malcolm Knight

10th December 2013

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