Thursday, December 02, 2010

What the hell is going on - This is Kent isn't it?

Yeah I suppose it is, its just watching the local news BBC Southeast a few nights ago, Tuesday I think, when eventually the presenters had dug themselves out of the unseasonal snow drifts, to report on actual news, I got the impression I might have just woken up in some totalitarian state.

Admittedly Kent is far from some Stalinist regime or even a Banana republic, however the report that I found so startling revealed how a senior officer at Kent Council has been asked to take two months leave of absence and county councillors have been informed by email that she will not be at work until further notice.

The officer in question Lynda McMullan, is the counties Finance Director, and if you click here, KCC have provided a web page which she herself explains her role.

Why? well the political editor of BBC southeast Louise Stewart mentioned that Lynda McMullan had agreed to take time off after concerns were raised about her relationship with the media and "sources" suggested that her emails had been investigated although no disciplinary action had been taken. Surely KCC officers can talk to the media?

Its difficult to see quite what's going on here, and lord knows just how sensitive the KCC establishment are about the media, KCC spends in excess of £5 million pounds to project its image, media manipulation has involved lavish presentations, its own magazine in which one edition had both Leader and Chief Executive go on about how marvellous the council was and of course that sacred cow Kent TV which despite all sorts of efforts failed.

Now you might think I have a downer on all bureaucrats, not so KCC clearly has some very competent staff,  I don't think I've ever spoken to Lynda McMullen, however I have corresponded concerning the claims by Peter Gilroy of savings made by Kent TV, Lynda McMullen dealt with my request in an efficient and business like manner this week a senior Kent Councillor who would know informs me that Lynda McMullan does a first class job.

This issue was first raised by Paul Francis, and it seems a complete mystery as to why.

Hopefully this is an issue that will be resolved shortly, I hope this hasn't arisen as a result of hostility toward our open and free media, I reminded of how upset Conservative Leader Paul Carter was when the Kent Messenger wrote a story concerning Peter Gilroy “I feel very strongly and I am extremely upset by the way the Kent Messenger has orchestrated their story regarding KCC Chief Executive Peter Gilroy’s contract renewal that was agreed in November 2006.

Incidentally its just been revealed that a one year extension to the former Chief Exec contract cost in excess of £400,000 a lifetimes earning for many of us.

Leave for Kent's Finance Director at a time of great financial restraint ought at least warrant a statement from Paul Carter, its a pity the national press don't start taking an interest in Kent, something is clearly wrong here


  1. Who knows Tony. One would hope that your Kent councillor might have enlightened us all surely they are not being kept in the dark over such an important matter ?

    May be they just need someone out of the way because they are feeling a 'little unwell' because of the exposure they are getting.

  2. Surely KCC officers can talk to the media? Not if they are unavailable like this lady and the legal team says NO !

  3. Very interesting development Tony, let's hope time will uncover what is going on here. It certainly appears that things are heating up.

    As to Stalinist regime and banana republic, I fear that unless we pull our collective finger out, a similar situation may not be too far off, even here in Kent.

  4. I have a hunch things are about to get a whole lot hotter.

  5. Oh deary me, it looks like plenty of people have been asked to pay for FOI requests when they shouldn’t have. Better start revisiting all those they have resisted due to costs before they end up in a right old pickle.

    Eric Pickles, the champion of open government, has further enhanced his reputation as a politican genuinely committed to greater public sector transparency.
    He's firmly and rapidly squashed a council's proposal that it be allowed to charge people for dealing with their FOI requests.
    Responding to Hampshire County Council's idea, Mr Pickles was ruthless.

    "If town halls want to reduce the amount they spend on responding to freedom of information requests they should consider making the information freely available in the first place. The simple act of throwing open the books, rather than waiting for them to be prised apart by the force of an FoI, might even save a few pounds in the process."

  6. Well I am having a ding dong with Kent Police re FOI.

    In the David O'Leary murder case (unsolved 2008) it is now eleven times Kent Plod refused to record complaints against their murder inquiry. Eleven times I have won appeal to IPCC causing them to compel Kent Plod to record complaint and eleven times consequent inquiry by plod continues to deny negligence.

    In a recent report to IPCC Kent Plod submitted evidence. They would not copy this evidence to me but there was a list. So I requested, from that list, a copy of a letter written January 19th 2010 by the Chief constable'ssolicitors Berrymans Lace Mawer.

    Initial response fropm Kent Plod was to refuse to disclose.

    Next response was to lapse to the ludficrous hypothesis that "IF such a letter exists you would not be entitled to see it"

    Presumably it must exist because Kent Plod listed it as a document copied to IPCC.

    Next move was to inform Kent Plod I had compelled disclosure via Thanet County Court process from Berrymans directly.

    And strangely enough the letter of 19th January 2010 was NOT the same as the letter copied to David O'LEARY's father that day purporting to be a copy of the letter sent.

    So I queried with Thanet County Court whether the letter filed with Court January 19th is actually a copy of the letter really sent. No answer now from the Court (Yet ... the matter was put in Judge In Box November 16th)

    David's father Dan O'Leary issued process in Thanet County Court in 2009 for damages fo0r the loss of a Rolex taken by Kent Plod at the murder scene.

    Kent Chief defended and instructed solicitors. They sought a court order to name David O'Leary's former partner as a party in the case. Police had given her the Rolex which Dan says is his.

    However before the Judicial Directions hearing of 3rd February this matter of a letter of 19th January now emerges. In fact the Chief constable solicitors sent a copy of the Chief constable defence to the other party, concealed this fact from Dan O'Leary (and possibly the Court) before the Court ruled whether or not the other party would be subject of the case.

    Whether this was a breach of the law (Civil Procedure Rules 19) is a matter for judicial interpretation.

    Unfortunately there was an error of Court admin which meant the Judge was not asked previously to rule on this issue (Funny ole world)

    Police have not denied to IPCC that meetings between the murder inquiry team and the other party occurred after Janjuary 19th and before the Thanet County Court directions hearing of 3rd Feb. They deny that the Rolex or the civil case was discussed.

    The IPCC have said that if the case was discussed this would be matters to answer of conspiracy against judicial process and misconduct in public office.

    Currently Mr Gilmartin, CE of KPA, is maintaining a watching brief
    and the new Chief constable appears to have been advised to keep schtum.

    This is the crux of it Tony. The resources we pay for to entrust to public sector. These resources, under complaint, cease to be used for their public service purpose but are misused to defend public servants (like police) against answerability at law.

    This particular matter started with a perfectly reasonable question. Why did the murder inquiry seize the rolex and then fail to test its damaged strap for DNA (possibly of a man hit by the late David O'Leary).

    It progressed to Dan asking why his watch had been given away (thus preventing his commissioning independent forensic testing of it)

    We now appear to be plumbing the depths of how far (and how much expense using private solicitors ... £14,000 est costs) Plod will go to deny negligence. Even allegedly to the extent of conspiring against civil judicial process.

    It is said that Richie McCaw is one of the greatest ever All Blacks but he lives on the offside line. Well maybe the Chief constable solicitors are like that. But if I had played that way I would have been shown a red card by the County Court Judge before now ?

  7. Returning to the question of the KCC officer sent 'home' for a while, after the customary diversions via sundry unsolved murders and even rugby players, there could be a simple explanation.

    Should the officer have been suspended from officer pending further enquiries, enquiries that my lead to court of even employment tribunal actions, then any comment or explanation could be construed as prejudicial.

    Probably best to wait, rather than make wild assumptions, for I am sure all will be revealed in due course.

  8. Its not always the case that KCC lets the public into its secrets as was the case recently of Adam Wilkinson who was KCC’s former director of regeneration and transport. He left within a year of joining with a £385,000 pay off and straight into a chief exec job elsewhere.

  9. Maybe the press would become involved if fraud was mentioned instead of press/media. I always when finance is involved assume the worst and the fact KCC seem bent on secrecy What have they to Hide maybe she spoke out about where the 50 millions is now?

  10. I think they have plenty to hide Don.

    It might be money disappearing , children disappearing or connections to both. All councils and local authorities work together. Where you have silence from elected members it is easy to hide fraud and
    corruption. Many are just feathering their own nests.

  11. Retired

    Have you seen this. Kent Police do seem to be notorious for delays and covers-up. Kent's Kendal House Childrens home abuse scandal, was proof of this , not exactly open and honest service for these severely abused young girls seeking justice

    good luck with shedding light on Kent Police dis-public service !

  12. "What the hell is going on - This is Kent isn't it?"

    Is the answer, Coverups Coverups and more Coverups ????

    now where did we hide all that money?

  13. Another cuckoo just flew over the nest. Still I suppose the silly old sod helps to increase the numbers of visitors to the blog even if they are mainly him.

    Hang on there is a knock at the door. is the KCC language on blogspots moderator!
    Get back later after I have paid my fine.

  14. Corporate Tax Collection

    maybe she watched this .....