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News and Comment December 2012

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7 December (Part 2) - In each others pockets

Bexley council and the borough’s police force don’t seem to be very happy about their suspiciously close links being exposed. Who but council leader Teresa O’Neill could march into a police station with a pack of lies and half truths and get the Borough Commander to send a file to the CPS before carrying out an investigation? Yet we know that is what happened because the IPCC said so. This is what Bexley police said after John Kerlen and I were issued with warning letters for “criticising councillors on a personal level”.
Police statement
It’s a statement of fact but they considered it to be something worth including in the file prepared for the malicious and ultimately futile prosecution of John Kerlen.

After posting anything on the web most people later check what they have written, maybe because they like admiring their handiwork or through an obsessive desire to check they’ve made no mistakes; or maybe just to show off to a friend. I would assume that obscene bloggers are no exception and that if a councillor was the culprit he might use a council computer to take a look. This was on Nick Dowling’s mind (for he was libelled too) when he asked Bexley council on 12th September 2011 if it had checked all their computers. This was their response to Nick’s questions five months later on 20th February 2012…

1. Has the website been viewed on or through any Bexley Council IT system since its apparent inception on 21st May 2011?
2. If the answer to question 1 is yes, was there an internal investigation? What was the time frame of the investigation, the result of the investigation and any consequent sanctions?
No, as it was referred to the police.
3. What were the actions of the Deputy Director (ICT) when made aware of the Blog?
A list was generated of those staff who had accessed the above site to ensure that only business-related access had taken place in line with the Council’s internet use policies. A statement on internet and IT security was provided to the Police.
4. Did the Blog originate from within the London Borough of Bexley or via a Councillor?
The matter was referred to the Metropolitan Police to investigate. The London Borough of Bexley is aware that the Metropolitan Police have a range of forensic tools to analyse the content and source of web activity. The Police have not responded to the Chief Executive regarding any Council or Councillor involvement in this website.

I would guess that if you committed arson but were caught after dialling 999 when you realised someone was trapped in the fire the police would at the very least check your alibi and see if you smelled of petrol before accepting your protestations of innocence. So what did Bexleyheath police do when they realised their suspect was a councillor? They had councillor Craske’s home computer forensically checked but what about any he might have used in the Civic Offices?

Nothing! “The computers were not checked because Bexley council provided a signed statement that no council computer had accessed the site.”

It was Will Tuckley who referred the matter to the police on 9th June 2011. He appears to have been “aware that the Metropolitan Police have a range of forensic tools to analyse the content and source of web activity” but the police glossed over the council’s admission that their tools are inferior. And why do the police assume the council’s statement is not a lie?

Bexleyheath police can protest all they like that they do not offer Bexley council special facilities but are any other criminal suspects allowed to declare their own innocence? And what are we to make of those two words ‘political interference’.

Something smells.


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