Saturday, November 14, 2009
Former £127,000-a-year deputy mayor Ian Clement takes a break from painting a lavatory block wearing a “community payback” jacket.
The Standard's exclusive pictures show Boris Johnson's former right-hand man for the first time since he was convicted of fraud over his City Hall expenses.
Five months ago Clement, 44, was one of the most powerful political figures in London. He flew around the world helping plan the 2012 Olympics and represented the capital at the 9/11 memorial service in New York.
But in a sharp fall from grace, he is now completing 100 hours of community service and living with a suspended 12-week prison sentence, a 9pm curfew and an electronic tag.
Unemployed, Clement's 27-year political career is over. He is pictured helping refurbish the lavatories and changing rooms at King George's playing fields in Sidcup, Kent.
He spent more than an hour labouring outside with a handful of other offenders on community service, who were taken to the grounds by bus.
A friend today said Clement is “totally destroyed” by the conviction.
Clement, a former Bexley councillor, pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud by false representation last month after using his City Hall credit card to entertain his girlfriend and another woman. Two other charges were ordered to lie on the court file. He was given a corporate card to cover any “exceptional” expenditure while abroad on City Hall business.
But he used it to pay for two meals with 23-year-old Claire Dowson — for whom he left the mother of his son — and a dinner with PR assistant Joanna Laban. He lied and said he had dined with Tory council leaders. The three meals cost £156.70.
Clement was first suspected of impropriety last November when he started sending cheques to City Hall to cover personal spending he had made on his work credit card. He initially used it to upgrade tickets for himself and a colleague on a flight to the Beijing Olympics. Clement then ignored a series of warnings and continued to use the card for more than £2,300 of personal spending, racking up bills in excess of £7,000.
His spending included £535 of work to his Jaguar and two £100-plus meals at Le Pont De La Tour restaurant at London Bridge, all of which he has since repaid.
When the spending was revealed, the Mayor initially decided his friend had made an error of judgment but, following warnings, demanded his resignation on 22 June. The Greater London Authority referred the matter to the police two days later.
Sentencing Clement, Judge Quentin Purdy said he had “flagrantly and arrogantly” misused taxpayers' money.
He told Clement he had come “very close indeed” to being sent to prison. “You knew full well what you were doing was dishonest and it is your fault and your fault entirely,” the judge said.
Clement, a former postman from Crayford, publicly apologised to Mr Johnson outside Westminster magistrates' court, saying he was “truly sorry”. He admitted he had “let down” taxpayers and colleagues.
Last month Clement's lawyer, Jim Sturman, QC, said his client was “innately a good man” and that “his life is ruined and he has to rebuild it, but he accepts it is his fault”.
A close friend of Clement today said he is completing his punishment without complaint but believes his behaviour was not as bad as some of the expenses claims by MPs that are being investigated.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Councillor Bertha Joseph has been suspended as a councillor for six months following a decision last night (13 Oct 09) by Brent Council's Standards Committee.
The committee met to consider allegations of breaches of the Councillor Code of Conduct by Councillor Joseph. The committee found that Councillor Joseph failed to register within 28 days receipt of gifts of cash from two local businesses amounting to £900 and recommended that Councillor Joseph pay the sum of £900 to the current Mayor's charity. The committee also found that Councillor Joseph brought her office into disrepute and used her position as Mayor to gain an advantage for herself by obtaining sponsorship in the context of the Mayor's Charity Ball which she used to buy clothes for her personal use.
The hearing was held in public but Councillor Joseph did not attend.
The effect of the suspension is that Councillor Joseph will not be able to perform council duties until the end of the suspension period. This includes constituency work and any formal business of the council.
Councillor Joseph has a right to apply to the Adjudication Panel for permission to appeal the decision.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sandwell Council leader Bill Thomas has quit after being charged by police with theft.
Coun Thomas, aged 69, resigned as council leader today, although he remains a councillor. He was one of the West Midlands’ longest serving council leaders.
Deputy Labour group leader Steve Elking has taken over the task of leading the council.
Details of the alleged offence are unclear, but Sandwell Council chief executive Dr Allison Fraser confirmed that Coun Thomas had decided to stand down.
Dr Fraser said: “The council has been notified that a 69-year-old man has been charged with theft.
“We have been advised by police that this is a personal matter. The council has not been approached by police about their investigation.”
Coun Thomas’s decision to quit was reported to shocked colleagues at a Sandwell cabinet meeting this morning.
Coun Eling said: “Coun Thomas’s resignation is for reasons which are wholly unconnected with the council and his role here.
“For us it is business as usual. We have recently strengthened the leadership team by appointing a third deputy.
“I as leader and councillors Pauline Hinton and Darren Cooper as deputies are available to ensure council business goes ahead smoothly.”
Former Sandwell Council leader Bill Thomas today admitted a charge of theft as he appeared in court.
Magistrates were told three cheques worth a total of £1,300 had been paid out from a NatWest bank account belonging to the 69-year-old to close friend Gareth Hall between April 21 and 24 last year .
Thomas later reported to the bank that he did not know Hall and the cash was reimbursed, but following his arrest Thomas admitted to police he had known Hall for six years.
The Labour councillor and former headteacher, who was arrested last month and resigned immediately as council leader, had originally vowed to fight the charges before pleading guilty today.
He was handed a conditional discharge for 12 months and ordered to pay back the £1,300 in compensation and costs of £145.
The court was also told Thomas, of Viking Rise, Rowley Regis, was stepping down from his role as councillor for the Rowley ward.
Gareth Hall, aged 28, also of Viking Rise, pleaded guilty at Sutton Coldfield magistrates today to fraud by false representation. He admitted using Thomas’ credit card nine times without his knowledge as well as writing cheques belonging to Thomas out to himself.
The case against Hall was adjourned until December 4. He was granted bail.
Thomas refused to comment after the case.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Coun Marcia Watson, of Bilborough ward, has been accused of assaulting Fiona Kirlew, 28, who is the mother of Coun Watson's grandson.
Police arrested Jorael and Shimone Thomas at the same time. The Evening Post understands they are Coun Watson's children and the arrests followed a conversation about Coun Watson's grandchild's comfort blanket.
It is the second arrest of a city councillor to be revealed by the Evening Post this week. The other was Councillor Hassan Ahmed.
The allegations against Coun Watson relate to an incident which took place at about 9.30pm on October 28 outside her home in Nuthall Road.
Ms Kirlew, of Lenton Boulevard, who has known Coun Watson for about 10 years, is understood to have been left with cuts and bruises after the incident. She was treated by paramedics.
Coun Watson has refused to comment.
A police spokesman said: "Two women, aged 47 and 25, and a man aged 22 were arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm. All have been granted police bail, pending further inquiries, until December 5."A spokesman for Nottingham City Council said they were not in a position to comment. i
Friday, November 06, 2009
Councillor Andy Matchet was hosting the Lord Mayor's Ball in Coventry last year when he approached two women and told one: ''I'd like to f*** you''.
Cllr Matchet — who was wearing his ceremonial gold chains at the time — also talked about having orgasms and boasted about losing his virginity.
The 57-year-old, of Coventry, admits downing wine and cocktails and claims he can only remember ''some aspects'' of the evening.
He said: ''I am an extremely argumentative person. It is the sort of comment I would have made as part of an argument about radical feminism.
"I would have said it argumentatively, not invitationally. "I'd had several glasses of wine and was on medication because of my bad back, including paracetemol, Codeine, Ibuprofen and dodo tablets, an over the counter low level amphetamine."
The outburst came during a conversation between the then Lord Mayor, the council's equality and diversity policy officer Laura Slegg, and a third woman named only as 'Miss X'.
Laura, 27, told the council's standard's committee: ''He asked how old she was and he said how old he was.
"He twice said he'd like to f*** her and twice asked if she'd like to f*** him. The three of us had been talking about orgasms and he told us how old he was when he lost his virginity."
Councillor Matchet is a former communist
UPDATE 20 November 2009
Unfortunately, the image posted with this report was of the wrong Mayor and as now been removed. The Green Arrow apologies for misleading his readers and causing distress to the Mayor whose image was used.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
A LEADING city councillor[Labour] has been arrested on suspicion of assault and sexual assault.
Coun Hassan Ahmed, 58, who is the council's portfolio holder for employment and skills, is accused of assaulting a 47-year-old woman who was a teacher at a college in the Notts area.
The offence is alleged to have occurred late at night in July.
Coun Ahmed has denied the allegation.
A spokesman for Notts Police said: "Nottinghamshire Police arrested a 58-year-old man on suspicion of committing common assault and sexual assault on July 29.
"The man was released on bail pending further inquiries and the matter is still very much under investigation."
Coun Ahmed took up his position as portfolio holder in May. He has been bailed to report to the police on November 19.
A statement released on Coun Ahmed's behalf yesterday said: "Mr Hassan Ahmed vehemently denies the allegation. Mr Ahmed believes the allegation to be false, without substance nor credibility. Mr Ahmed is fully cooperating with the police investigation."
Nottingham City Council said it was a police matter and declined to comment.