This is a summary of a campaign against dishonesty by employees and Councillors within the North Devon District Council. The full version, including all the evidence from the Council’s own documentation, is available by clicking the back button or clicking here

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The Council supplied misleading information to the Ombudsman regarding a complaint about a planning decision adversely affecting a sheltered retirement bungalow estate at Hares Green, South Molton. The Ombudsman accepted the Council’s information as accurate and totally ignored my comments.

A complaint was made through the Council’s complaint procedure regarding six points where the Council misled the Ombudsman. Anne Cowley closed the complaint procedure without referring to or dealing with a single point raised in the complaint and then refused to communicate further. This action initiated the cover up.

From this point the term "council lies" replaces "misleading information". Note that the complaint is now about the lying and the cover up by the Council and not about the Ombudsman’s planning decision. The definition of a lie within the context of this complaint is "an untruthful statement made to someone else with the intention to deceive". Source- the Wikipedia free online encyclopedia.)

Further investigation revealed more lies from the Council’s planning department. These lies together with the six points noted above are detailed on the North Devon Link website together with, in each case, supporting evidence of lying using the Council’s own documentation.

An e-mail was sent to the Leader of the Council Malcolm Prowse informing him of the lying and the cover up with copies to our local representatives Cllrs. Sue Sewell and John Moore. Councillor Prowse in an e-mail then stated:

"I have passed your e-mail on to the Monitoring Officer for his views.  You make very serious accusations against staff and I feel that such public complaints deserve a full answer.  I will respond when all the facts are to hand."

A letter was received from Councillor Prowse stating that he had taken legal advice, proposed to take no action and considered the allegations made were unjustified and unfairly discredit staff.

A request for copies of correspondence between Councillor Prowse, the Monitoring Officer and the legal department revealed that no documents exist although the allegations according to Councillor Prowse were "very serious".

A further e-mail with a request for help to deal with the dishonesty within the North Devon District Council was made to our two local Councillors John Moore and Susan Sewell. Councillor Moore agreed to assist – Councillor Sewell refused.

Councillor Moore agreed to put a question to Councillor Prowse at a Council meeting. The response was that the allegations of lying and a cover up were a pack of lies or words to that effect.

A complaint was made to the Standards Board regarding Councillor Prowse’s behaviour – the Standards Board refused to investigate the complaint for invalid reasons thus associating themselves with the Council’s dishonesty.

Nick Harvey MP was asked to take up the complaint and wrote to the Council asking for information. The council’s reply proved that the allegations of lies were justified but no action was taken.

Newly elected Councillor Worden, replacing Councillor Moore, agreed to help with the campaign - in the meantime a page was put onto the website called The Wedge. This shows at a glance those employees and Councillors who have acted dishonestly and why. (A copy of this page is included below).

In order to encourage some kind of action from the Council the pages on the Internet concerning the dishonesty were copied onto CDs and these were sent to Cllr. Michael Harrison. (Leader of Executive.) Cllr Mair Manuel. (Chairman of Council) and Cllr. Jasmine Chesters (Chairman of the Planning Committee). Councillor Manuel’s reply was unhelpful, Councillor Harrison’s reply stated that he had been advised that the complaint had been exhaustively investigated and found not to be justified. Councillor Chesters did not reply.

Our MP. Nick Harvey, having looked at all the evidence, then wrote to the Standards Board and the Ombudsman asking for information about both their decisions. Replies from both showed that they were willing to defend a dishonest Council in spite of overwhelming evidence from the Council’s own documentation.

A complaint against Leader of the Council, Councillor Harrison, was made to the Standards Committee. This was thrown out by the committee using reasons that did not relate to the complaint. An appeal produced the same result.

A complaint was made through the Council’s complaint procedure against the Monitoring Officer Don Pratt after it was discovered that he had misled Councillor Harrison by advising him that the Local Government Ombudsman and the Council had already dealt with the lies and the cover up. The chief executive John Sunderland threw out the complaint as being "not justified". This in spite of all the evidence that had been provided.

A complaint to the Ombudsman followed supported by letters from Nick Harvey MP and Councillor Worden. This was thrown out as the investigator considered that the complaint had already been dealt with. (Referring to the complaint about a planning decision which gave rise to the lies and the cover up by the Council).

A complaint to the Ombudsman’s office was then made detailing a number of lies told by Patricia Coopey in her investigation. A reply was received from Jerry White condoning the lies. At my request Nick Harvey MP. wrote to White asking for answers to several questions – in the course of his reply White lied to the MP. by mentioning council lies and cover up within the context of the original complaint about a planning decision.

Freedom of information requests were made to both the Council and the Ombudsman asking for documentary proof that the allegations of lying and the covering up of lying had been investigated. Neither was able to produce any evidence to support their claims that the matter had been dealt with.

Councillor David Worden suggested approaching the chairman of the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee – the reply was that the chairman felt that it was not something that could be investigated unless the Ombudsman asked them to.

An e-mail to Nick Harvey MP. asking for further help was not answered for four months. Eventually a letter was received stating that he did not see what more he could do thereby sanctioning all of the dishonesty so far recorded.

A complaint against Jerry White the Ombudsman was addressed to the office of the Home Secretary. This was passed on to Tony Redmond the chairman of the Commission for Local Administration in England. Redmond’s reply showed little understanding of the complaint and no inclination to deal with White’s lie.  Further correspondence with Redmond shows that although he has all the evidence of White lying to Nick Harvey he will do nothing, thereby condoning dishonesty by default.

This is being followed up with a complaint to the Home Secretary, Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP., against both Redmond and White.

The complaint to Alan Johnson has been passed to John Denham's dept for Communities and Local Government.  A reply has been received from Mark Coram who has totally misunderstood the complaint and effectively condones the dishonesty of White and Redmond.  A follow up letter has been sent.  Further correspondence with Stephen McAllister shows that this Government Department, presided over by John Denham MP., has sanctioned dishonesty within the Ombudsman Service.

Following John Denham's staff at the department for Communities and Local Government sanctioning the Ombudsmen White's and Redmond's dishonesty a complaint has been sent today 4th March 2010 to the Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham.  Will this result in another cover up?

Yes!  Stuart Poole, working for Ann Abraham, has condoned Stephen McAllister's dishonest action.  A complaint against Poole has been initiated.  Where will it all end?

The complaint has been dealt with by Carole Auchterlonie.  She has agreed with Poole's decision confirming that  an Ombudsman  can lie and cheat the taxpayer if it is in the course of an investigation.

An e-mail has been sent to Nick Harvey MP detailing the dishonesty by the Local Government Ombudsman, the department for Communities and Local Government and the Pariamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.  Nick Harvey has been provided with all the evidence and has been charged with the task of dealing with those who have acted dishonestly.  However our useless MP has refused to act upon the information and has covered up the dishonesty.

To date none of the allegations of lying and the covering up of those lies published on the Internet has been dealt with - the Council being unable to refute a single one. It should be noted that every allegation is supported by evidence from the Council’s own documentation.

One thing has become very clear in the course of this campaign - and that is that all the cheats and liars named on these pages have carefully avoided dealing with the evidence.  That appears to be their system.  Avoid, delay, hide behind someone else, misunderstand and lie but never deal with the evidence!

To be continued……………..

The objectives of this campaign are:

  • To make the liars own up.
  • To discipline employees who tried to cover up the lies.
  • To seek the resignation of the dishonest councillors.
  • To ensure that a full public apology is made.
  • To provide an opportunity for the Council to purge itself of dishonesty.


The Wedge

There is a thread of dishonesty running through the North Devon District Council at present - this involves certain employees and councillors who seem to think they are untouchable and can lie to and cheat the long suffering taxpayer with impunity. If an attempt is made to call them to account they simply close ranks, support each other and refuse to communicate with the complainant. This is dishonest and unacceptable. To rid the Council of this creeping cancer we have introduced The Wedge!

There are two positions that can be taken with regard to The Wedge that will drive deep to separate the honest from the dishonest within the North Devon District Council. There is no middle ground! Below are the names emerging as honest and dishonest following a recent enquiry into lies told to the Local Government Ombudsman followed by more lies as "one lie inevitably leads to another".

It should be understood that the only reason for this campaign is simply that lying and dishonesty by council employees and our elected representatives, the Councillors, is not acceptable!

Acted Honestly

Former Cllr John Moore who did his best to expose the culprits.

Acted Dishonestly

Planning Manager Malcolm Easton for his part in a disgraceful planning decision which broke his own planning conditions and for telling lies to try to justify the decision.

Case Officer Jean Watkins for telling lies to support the Planning Manager

Assistant Chief Executive Ann Cowley for closing a complaint procedure without dealing with any of the points raised thereby initiating a cover up

Cllr. Malcolm Prowse for endorsing the cover up.

Monitoring Officer Don Pratt for aiding Cllr Prowse and Cllr Harrison in the cover up

Cllr. Sewell for refusing to assist in exposing the culprits.

Cllr. Mair Manuel for associating herself with the cover up.

Cllr. Chesters for not responding to the letter and CD thereby sanctioning the lies and cover up by default.

Cllr. M. Harrison for endorsing the cover up.

J. A. Sunderland, chief executive, for finding a complaint against Don Pratt to be "not justified" without answering a single allegation of lies and the subsequent cover up and claiming that complaint had already been dealt with by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Cllr. David Worden (Lib-Dem) has been shown the proof of dishonesty within the North Devon District Council but has done nothing to deal with the cheats and liars. - he is therefore guilty of  complicity by default.

The full version, including all the evidence from the Council’s own documentation, is available by clicking the back button or clicking here