Now we have had time to digest the findings of the judge in Information Commissioner and Jeremy Woodward (and many, many thanks are due to Jeremy and his occasional stand-in Richard Thurlow for doggedly pursuing this) there are SO many questions to be asked, some of which current commentators have already suggested. Now, where will the buck stop and who is going to answer questions ?
First and foremost we must be concerned with the damning evidence. In Tower Hamlets, when the Commissioners arrived to take it over, the first thing they did was sequester ALL documents and correspondence though it is believed that some were already missing. Is it possible that some of OUR evidence is vulnerable to deletion and shredding? We hope not but we cannot be sure. However, traces will abound everywhere and sometimes what is missing throws even more light on what is going on.
At best what has occured is incompetence and, at worst, deceit – as a correspondent says – which is it?
The questions people are posing:
1. The different versions of documents and their legibility. The Judge in the case is STILL not sure he has original documents or all documents. He says that for months EDDC said that they could not provide legible copies of documents and yet, at the last moment, some turned up. However, the judge also says that he is not entirely sure they saw ALL the documents they were meant to see – he refers to document 5A when he appears not to have been given document 5, for example.
2. At the hearing Richard Cohen admitted that he did not give an original version of a document to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee but an “amended” one. Where is the original copy of THIS document and would it have changed what that committee decided?
3. Why did EDDC officers and top councillors keep delaying the process. Were they hopeful that this could be kept under wraps until after the election tomorrow. They almost managed it if this was the case.
4. How and why were the decisions to prevaricate made and by whom: was it CEO/Cohen/Diviani or a larger (or smaller) group?
5. How will those in (4) above manage to keep this from the NEXT Overview and Scrutiny Committee?
6. Who decides what goes to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee? Those in (4) above! And will it go to the Standards Committee? (Answer here: almost certainly not if the same people remain in power).
7. What is now the position of Knowle sale?
8. Who takes these decisions – officers and then the councillors are led by the nose, or councillors and then officers are led by the nose or a combination of councillors AND officers and then everyone else is led by the nose? We know from Councillor Peter Sullivan that, as a Conservative councillor, he was not allowed to see documents. Who was in the “golden circle”?
9. Why did NO-ONE blow the whistle when they realised what was happening? Why was it left to brave Independent councillors, bloggers and – most important – local resident Jeremy Woodward, to uncover this very dirty, dirty linen?