Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Fraud

A call has been made for the resignation of the LibDem leader of Aberdeen City Council in the wake of the latest crisis to hit the organisation.

As disclosed in The Herald yesterday, the council sold off properties at only 40% of their value losing out on more than £5.5m of local taxpayers' money.

The sales are now the subject of a police investigation.

An Audit Scotland report that highlighted the loss came only a week after it was revealed that a legal blunder had forced the council to write off £2.5m in unpaid parking fines and less than three weeks ahead of a special hearing into the council's finances by the Accounts Commission.

That was prompted by an Audit Scotland report on best value and community planning at the council which indicated its financial position was "precarious".

Last night, Labour spokesman Willie Young said: "Kate Dean, the council leader, and Neil Fletcher, who was in charge of resource management, should go.

Full Story here

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Labour Councillor - Child Pornography

A FORMER Mayor of Hebden Royd has been arrested on suspicion of child porn offences.

Stewart Brown, 59, was a Labour candidate for the Elland ward in next month's council elections.

But he has now been suspended from the Labour Party.

Officers from the West Yorkshire Police Child Protection Unit arrested Mr Brown on Tuesday. He was questioned by detectives before he was bailed, pending further investigation.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "A 59-year-old man was arrested for possession and distribution of indecent images of children.

"Police have been working closely with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre."

Mr Brown, a former Hebden Bridge town councillor and mayor of Hebden Royd, is a father-of-one and lives at Nutclough, Hebden Bridge.

He was a town councillor for more than 12 years and represented the Calder Valley on Calderdale Council between 1996 and 2000. He was Mayor of Hebden Royd in 2006.

Mr Brown is a retired senior environmental health officer and, as part of his current election manifesto, has pledged to restore pride in Hebden Bridge.

He was not in at his Hebden Bridge address last night and neighbours said they had not seen him there for several days.

One resident said: "Stewart is usually here but I saw him three or four days ago and that was the last time."

He has represented a number of organisations, including the Calderdale Green Forum, Calder Civic Trust, and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England and the Hebden Bridge and District International Group.

Mr Brown was also chairman of the Labour Party's Calder Valley branch.

A spokesman for the Labour Party said: "Stuart Brown has been suspended from the Labour Party pending the completion of an investigation."

A spokesman for Calderdale Council said election rules mean a candidate's name cannot be taken off the ballot paper once nominations close.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Conservative Councillor - Child pornograpy

A leading Tory councillor has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography.

Divorced father-of-three Ken Bartram, 63, a church organist, had his flat raided by Scotland Yard.

It is believed a stash of more than 50 DVDs and a mobile phone containing various images were seized.

Failed actor Bartram, a councillor in the London borough of Hillingdon, is no longer at home in Uxbridge, Middlesex.

Hillingdon Council chiefs were unaware of his arrest when contacted by The People Deputy leader Cllr David Simmonds said: "As far as we are aware Cllr Bartram has not been involved with anything unlawful."

But Scotland Yard said: "We arrested Ken Bartram at his flat. He was taken for questioning and released on bail. We also seized a number of his belongings."

Bartram was unavailable.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Guilty of wife beating

A COUNCILLOR found guilty of beating his wife has today been ordered to do community service work and to pay costs.

Lib Dem Imran Abrahim was found guilty of common assault at a hearing last month.

Magistrates heard how Cllr Abrahim punched and slapped his partner Binish Karamet during a row on November 18.

The maximum sentence for common assault is six months in jail.

Cllr Abrahim was today given an order meaning he will have to do 120 hours of work in the community.

He was also ordered to pay £200 to Ms Karamet and £300 legal costs.

But Cllr Abrahim will not automatically lose his council seat.

Council rules state that he would be barred only if his sentence is three or more months in jail.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Conservative councillor 'asked for bribes'

An ex-Tory councillor asked two businessmen in London for £20,000 in bribes to help them with a property development, jurors heard.

Suresh Kumar, 44, even suggested half the money should be paid into his local party, Southwark Crown Court heard.

But his demands were secretly taped by an undercover reporter, it is alleged.

The former Redbridge councillor, from Newbury Park, east London, denies three counts of corruption between 11 November and 12 December 2004.

Two accuse him of "corruptly soliciting" £10,000 payments as a "reward for assisting in the passing and processing of a planning application", while the third mentions a fee but no amount.

Sean Larkin, prosecuting, told the court the development for 17 flats on the site of a derelict east London petrol station had been drawn up by Jasbir Bhogul and Rajwinder Rana, partners in Silverlake Properties Ltd.

Election campaign

Before the application was due to be considered, the defendant phoned Mr Bhogul, who had helped him with his election campaign the previous year, jurors heard.

The application was passed without any money changing hands.

Jurors heard that two weeks later the councillor contacted Mr Bhogul once more and again offered his help - for a price.

But this time the pair contacted a national newspaper, which told them to set up another meeting.

When questioned by police, the councillor insisted it was "a put up job by Mr Bhogul, supported by Mr Rana, to bring me down".

He was suspended from the local Conservative group in December 2004 after the allegations were published in a Sunday newspaper.

He ran as an independent but failed to win enough votes in 2006.

The trial continues.


UPDATE 27/11/09

A former Conservative councillor convinced an expert witness to alter evidence against him while on trial for corruptly demanding £10,000 in bribes, a court heard today.

Suresh Kumar, 44, of Eastern Avenue, Newbury Park, enlisted the help of Punjabi-speaking interpreter Baldev Sidhu, 61, to change transcripts of secretly taped conversations during the trial last year, jurors heard.

Kumar, who was elected to Redbridge Council in 2003, had allegedly demanded £10,000 from property developers who needed planning permission.

Southwark Crown Court heard Kumar asked one of the men to join the local Conservative association having just demanded the first payoff in November 2004.

Kumar later told members of the local Conservative association there was a "possibility of a £10,000 donation" to top up the party coffers, it was said.

Jurors heard during Kumar's bribery trial he enlisted the help of Sidhu, an expert defence witness, to alter the evidence against him.

Kumar is now facing a string of corruption charges relating to his alleged cash demands.

He and Sidhu are also accused of conspiring to pervert the course of justice and doing acts intended to pervert the course of justice.

Sidhu is also accused of perjury for lying under oath when he said he was on the National Register of Interpreters.

Prosecutor Thomas Kark told the court: "This case is about dishonesty, about bribery, about perverting the proper course of justice and lying in court.

"The first part concerns allegations of corruption against Suresh Kumar and they arise when he was a Conservative councillor in Redbridge in 2004.

"The second part of the case arises subsequently when in 2008 Mr Kumar was tried at the this very court and he called Mr Sidhu as an expert interpreter of some secretly taped conversations which had taken place in the language of Punjabi.

"It became apparent during Mr Sidhu's evidence that he was telling lies about a number of facts including the circumstances in which his expert reports had come to be written."

Mr Kark said the costly jury trial then had to be abandoned.

Jurors heard Jasbir Bhogal and Rajwinder Rana were seeking planning permission to turn a derelict petrol station in Green Lane, Goodmayes, into flats when they approached Kumar back in 2004.

Kumar was sitting on the regulatory committee and tried to persuade Mr Bhogal, who had helped him during his election to pay up, it is said.

Mr Kark said Mr Kumar ignored the "councillors' code of conduct" by asking for the money.

Kumar denies three counts of corruption alleging he "did corruptly solicit for himself a fee or reward for assisting in the processing of a planning application" between November 11 and December 12, 2004.

He and Sidhu, of Portland Road, Birmingham, both deny conspiring "together, to do a series of acts, namely altering the transcripts of taped conversations with intent to pervert the course of justice" on or before April 14, last year and deny doing acts intending to pervert the course of justice.

Sidhu alone further denies once charge of perjury by saying he was on the National Register of Interpreters and for lying about a report he had written for the case and about a witness statement he had made for the case.

The trial continues.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Lib Dem Councillor - Tagged for drink driving

A DRINK-DRIVING parish councillor will stay in her post - despite a curfew and tagging order which makes it illegal for her to attend meetings.

Former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Kate Smith was given a 36-month driving ban, a community service order and a 7pm to 7am curfew, after being caught driving while over the alcohol limit.

She must wear an electronic tag which is linked to a tracking device in her house for 12 weeks.

But as Crich Parish Council meetings begin at 7.30pm, Ms Smith will be unable to attend until the curfew is served.

Ms Smith declined to comment, but said she had an agreement with her party that any subsequent press enquiries about the matter must be dealt with by regional party chairman Gavin Sarkas-Bosman.

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said: "It's a disappointment, but that has to be balanced with the good work Kate's been doing locally.

"But it's a serious offence for which she's got an appropriate punishment."

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said Ms Smith had the backing of the party and parish to continue as a councillor.

"It's a small parish council and she has a very supportve network of family and friends if driving becomes an issue.

"She will be able to ask questions and put forward her views in advance of meetings," he added.

Ms Smith was expected to stand as the Liberal Democrat's Amber Valley Borough Council candidate for Crich, but it was likely she will now be asked not to stand.

Mr Sarkas-Bosman said: "We have talked about it in the party and it's about getting a balance and she should consider carefully whether to put herself forward.

"I think it's a very strong possibility we would ask her to consider the appropriateness of that."

Ms Smith was found driving over the alcohol limit at the end of February and convicted at Derby magistrates court on March 11.

The driving ban could be shortened depending on Ms Smith's performance after 24 months.

Ms Smith stood as Liberal Democrats parliamentary candidate in 2001 and 2005.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Labour Councillor - racially aggravated disorder

A COUNCILLOR has been suspended by Labour Party chiefs after being arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated disorder.

Rob Dix, Labour representative for Harton, South Tyneside, was arrested last Wednesday afternoon by officers in Chapter Row, South Shields, following an alleged incident in the town centre.

He was taken to South Shields Police Station where he was questioned. He wasn't charged and released on police bail. He was ordered to reappear at the station on May 7.

It is understood the suspected offence relates to an alleged dispute with a black traffic enforcement officer, while Coun Dix, 52, was delivering for Parcelforce in East Street, South Shields.

Neil Fleming, spokesman for the Labour Party, said that Coun Dix, of Summerhill Road, South Shields had been suspended by the party, pending the outcome of the police investigation.

Parcelforce Worldwide, who Coun Dix is understood to have been working for at the time, said a full internal investigation has been launched, but refused to say whether he had been suspended.

Spokesman Marie Gray said: "Parcelforce Worldwide has been informed of an incident involving a driver on Wednesday March 26.

"An internal investigation is underway and we will also await the results of the police inquiry."

Coun Ed Malcolm, chief whip of the Labour group on South Tyneside Council, said: "We cannot make any comment until the police have concluded their inquires."

Coun Dix was re-elected to South Tyneside Council on May 3 last year, ousting veteran Progressive Councillor Gordon Finch by 229 votes. He'd previously lost his seat in the 2004 local elections.

He is currently vice-chair of the Regeneration and Resources Scrutiny Committee, and sits on a range of other committees including licensing and regulatory.

A senior South Shields Labour Party source said: "No-one knows many details about the incident yet, but he's innocent until proven otherwise.

"The case is likely to be treated very seriously, as potential Labour candidates have to agree that they're in favour of equal opportunities for all.

A racially motivated incident would go against this ethos."

A spokesman for Northumbria Police said: "We can confirm that a 52-year-old man was arrested at Chapter Row, South Shields on Wednesday, March 26 on suspicion of racially aggravated disorder.

He was released on police bail, and will return to the station on May 7."

Coun Dix could not be contacted for comment.