I am a Councillor for London Borough Bexley. This is a position I have held for nearly eight years, which is the equivalent of two terms. I will not be standing for this position in May 2018 when the local election takes place, only due to the fact I no longer live in the borough. in addition to this I run an estate management company, which deals with lettings and flat management. The name of my company is Amax estates and property services LTD. I have had the company since May 2002.
When I first became a councillor I was made aware of a website called “BEXLEY IS BONKERS”. This is a website which is run by a male called Malcom KNIGHT and is a website which is Anti Bexley Borough Council. As councillors we are told not to view the website to prevent the ratings being upgraded. The website is so well known within Bexley Borough Council, that it is blocked from being viewed on computers in the Bexley Borough council building. I am aware that the website reports on Bexley Borough Council and Councillor related business.
The first time that Malcom KNIGHT posted personally about me was on 8th DECEMBER 2015. This was in relation to a code of conduct committee. This was held in relation to a report that I had abused my position, under the seven principles of conducting yourself within public life. With regard to this obligation a hearing took place and it was determined that I was found not guilty, other than how this could have been perceived in the public eye. The only sanction received was that I received training and no longer sit on the appeals committee. This was however reported on BEXLEY IS BONKERS in a manner which read that I had done something wrong and had been abusing my position as a councillor.
In total there were 41 posts which appeared on the BEXLEY IS BONKERS website, between 8th DECEMBER 2015 and 17th September 2016. I do not feel the posts were about being a councillor, they were all about my personal business and my family. The posts include photos of my business, home and myself. One of the posts I found particularly distressing was published on 27th January 2016 and was titled “HOW THE OTHER HALF SPENDS- PART 3”. A photocopy of a cheque appeared on the website, implying that I had been syphoning money out of my client’s money myself. I felt that the posts were a personal attack and attempting to destroy me and my business as opposed to being newsworthy journalism.
The forty one reports all appear under the heading “Blogs (Code of conduct committee)”. This is on a section of the website under my own index page. I exhibit the posts relating to the code of conduct committee as MPF/1.
I had been reviewing the website and what was appearing on there. This was due to the lie’s appearing on this website most days. What was being put on there was due to the fact that the blogs appearing appearing there were damaging to my personal reputation as a councillor and also the reputation of my business. I would be constantly worrying what people would think and what was going to appear on the website next.
I became very stressed, due to what was appearing on this website alone. As a result of this stress I became very unwell and in JANUARY 2016 was taken into hospital as I was not eating and drinking properly. It was discovered that my kidneys were not functioning properly and as a result of this I spent a week being treated in hospital. After this time I was under the doctor for stress and depression. This was something that I attended the doctors surgery on a monthly basis about and was also placed on medication for and I was having suicidal thoughts, due to the fact that I was struggling to cope with the effect that the posts on the website were having on both myself and my business.
Whilst I was in hospital I had received e mails from John Watson, who is an associate of Malcom KNIGHT. Initially I did not respond to the e mails, but he persisted with sending them to me. I ignored the e mails as I thought that John Watson was trying to cause problems for me. John Watson was telling me that he felt the code of conduct had been unfair to me, he felt there should be a judicial review and asked if I would meet him to discuss this.
I eventually took up this offer several months later and met with JOHN WATSON. I explained that what was appearing on Bexley is Bonkers was ruining my life. After this I then met with John WATSON again and Malcom KNIGHT was also in attendance. We met at the Brands Hatch Hotel and my husband also attended with me. I then showed both Malcom KNIGHT and John Watson the paperwork I had, proving I had not done anything wrong.
Having met with Malcom KNIGHT he then took down the majority of the posts which were derogatory toward me, replacing them with red text in a box, explaining why he had taken them down and he felt there had been an injustice against me. The posts were taken down in SEPTEMBER 2016.
I was however still suffering from the stress and was rushed into hospital in OCTOBER 2016. A scan took place which revealed I had a perforated bowel which was directly inked to the stress. l remained in hospital on a drip for eight days and now have diverticulitis as a long term condition.
From 13th November 2017 I was made aware by a colleague at Bexley Borough Council, that Malcom KNIGHT had once again been posting on BEXLEY IS BONKERS about me. In addition to this, all of the posts which had previously been taken down had also been re-instated on the website. The post which appeared on 13th NOVEMBER 2016 was titled “THE PRICE OF LYING” and was under the headline “BLOGS (LIBEL)”. This entire section of posts relate to the fact that a libel case was taken out against me.
This was due to the fact that I had used wrong wording in two letters, which I had sent out in response to letters that had been sent out to my clients, insinuating that I had been lying. The libel case was settled outside of court amicably through solicitors and only apeared in court for the agreement to be made and read out in open court, with a public apology letter being sent to the residents who had received the original letter.
In total between 13th November 2017 and 20th December 2017 seventeen posts appeared under the headline “BLOGS (LIBEL)” and a further sixteen posts appeared under the headline “Documents (Libel case against Raymond Robson BSC FRICS MAE MioD and Hayley Warnes)”.
There were a number of posts under the section “BLOGS (LIBEL)” that I took as threats to publish personal information about myself.
I was again very distressed by the posts which had appeared on this website. Due to this I rang Malcom KNIGHT on 1th NOVEMBER 2017 to discuss this. I asked Malcom to take the posts down from the BEXLEY IS BONKERS website and I explained the stress it was causing me and the effect that what he was having on my health. Malcolm and I exchanged e mails in relation to this on the same date and I exhibit the emails as MPF/2.
I again spoke with Malcom on 18th NOVEMBER 2017 at this time on the telephone, once again asking him aware of the fact he was having on my health and business. I told Malcom that I would meet with him and could provide evidence, that the information he was provideing on the website was incorrect.
Malcom initially agreed on the phone that he would meet with me. I then followed this up by sending Malcolm and email to confirm we would meet this was on the same date the e mail again included me highlighting the impact that the posts were having on my health and aslso the fact that the posts he was writing was not relevant to me as a councillor. but were actually about my personal business. Malcom later replied declining to meet with him and also declined to remove the posts from website. The e mail chain continued until 20th NOVEMBER 2017 when I asked Malcom again to take the blogs about me down on a number of occasions and again explained the impact it was having upon my health, my staff and my business. In th eemail I also made Malcom aware that I would be seeking legal advice in relation to this should th eblogs not be removed.
I exhibit this e mail chain as MPF/3.
Since this time I have not had any further contact with Malcom KNIGHT however despite the fact I had explained to him the impact the blogs were having upon me, he continued to post about me on the “BEXLEY IS BONKERS” website. A number of blogs appeared appeared after this time which I felt contained comments threatening to release further and personal information about myself. Again this was something I found to be very distressing.
On 8th DECEMBER 2017 a post appeared under the section “BLOGS (LIBEL)”. This is something I took to be a threat. The content of the post made it clear to me that Malcom was not going to stop posting derogatory and damaging comments about me. The post ends by stating “IF UKIP WANT TO CONTIUNE WITH THIR ASSUMPTIONS MAYBE BIB SHOULD GIVE THEM SOME EVIDENCE”. I took this as a threat that personal information was going to be published about me. I exhibit a copy of tis post as MPF/4.
On 9th DECEMBER 2017 a further post has appeared under the same section. This post is titled “HOW DO YOU DEFINE CORRUPTION”. This post publishes a private text message conversation held between myself and a now ex-emplyee about helping my ex-employee moving into a flat. This has been published in such a way to make me appear corrupt. Above this text message appears the text “WASN’T GOING TO SHOW YOU THIS, BUT NOW THAT COUNCILLOR FOTHERGILL HAS JOINED THE RANKS OF COUNCILLORS WHO HAVE MADE MOVES THAT COULD LAND ME IN COURT, THE GLOVES ARE OFF. MORE TO COME”.
Again I felt this post was a personal attack on me and threatening to publish further personal information about me. I exhibit a copy of this post as MPF/5.
On the same date there is also further post under the same section entitled “FAKE INVOICES OR MALICIOUS FAKE NEWS”. Again this post is a personal attack on me and contains a text message implying I am corrupt. The post again ends with “MORE TO COME”. Again I took this as a further threat to post further information about myself. I exhibit a copy of this post as MPF/6.
On 13th DECEMBER 2017 a further post appears which is titled “A BIT OF THIS AND A BIT OF THAT”. Included in the post was the comment “IT WAS ON 19TH NOVEMBER THAT BIB ANNOUNCED IOT WOULD DROP THE MAXINE FOTHERGILL BUSINESS AS SHE IS NOT THIS WEBSITES TARGET. IT PUT HER APOLOGY ON LINE A WEEK LATER BUT THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN THE END OF IT - BUT THEN CAME THE THREATNING LETTER. BIB UNLEASHES A FURTHER ROUND OF UNFLATTERING COMMENTS. THE TIME HAS COME TO TRY AGAIN. NO MORE MAXINE FOTHERGILL INFO. SOME HAS BEEN HELD BACK IN CASE OF FURTHER THREATS BUT WITH LUCK AND GOOD JUDGEMENT IT WILL NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY”.
Again I feel that this is directed at me. I exhibit a copy of this post as MPF/7.
On 18th DECEMBER 2017, Malcom then added a further post to the section titled “YOUR UNDER ARREST - WELL NOT QUITE”. This detailed th efact that he had been interviewed, the post concluded by stating “WHILE I HAVE BEEN A”WAY FROM HOME, MAXINE FOTHERGILL’S BUSINESS ASSOCIATES HAVE SENT MORE DETAILS OF WHT THEY SEE AS MORE GRIST TO THE BONKERS’D MILL AND ASKED ME TO PUBLISH IT BUT IM NOT GOING TO. I SAID THAT ENOUGH WAS ENOUGH.”
I now feel that Malcom is waiting to see what the outcome of the police investigation is before deciding what what further information to publish about me. I exhibit a copy of this post as MPF/8.
On 20th December a further post appeared which was titled “TROUBLE COMES IN THREES”. This post relates to the fact that I have reported Malcom to Police for Harassment. Near to the bottom the post states “WHAT DOES COUNCILLOR FOTHERGILL HOPE TO ACHIEVE? IF SHE SUCCEEEDS IN HAVING ME CHARGED WITH HARASSMENT THE LIBEL CASE SHE WISHED TO KEEP OUT OF THE HEADLINES WILL LIKELY ‘GO VIRAL’. THE RECORD OF MORE THAN 5,000 UNIQUE WEB VISITORS IN ONE DAY SET WHEN JOHN KERLEN WAS MALICIOUSLY PROSECUTED IN 2011 HAS NEVER BEEN BEATEN. IF THERE IS ONE WAY OF ENSURING THAT EVERYONE KNOWS COUNCILLOR FOTHERGILL’S BUSINESS, GETTING ME INTO COURT MUST SURELY BE IT”.
I believe this post is trying to intimidate me into not continuing any further with any sory of police prosecution, through fear of further derogatory information being published about me. I find this threatening and intimidating. A exhibit a copy of this post as MPF/9.
As a result of the ongoing blogs and posts which keep appearing I am being affected on a day to day basis. My health and well being is once again being affected. I am back under the doctor, on medications and the doctor has been monitoring me on a monthly basis. I feel that I don’t know what is going to appear on the website next, there are some days I don’t feel like carrying on again.
A few eeks ago I was at home on my own, when I heard a noise in my house. This ongoing harassment has had such an impact on me that I am afraid now even in my own house. On hearing the noise I picked up a pen knife and went downstairs. It turned out the noise was my dog, but I now feel as though I am becoming paranoid about what will appear next. I am willing to attend court and give evidence if required.
The victim personal statement scheme has been explained to me. I do wish to make a victim personal statement, but would like to do this at a later date.