Arnold Meagher, Brent Council's Principal Lawyer, Housing and Litigation Team wrote:
I write to advise that the Council has been informed of the outcome of the investigation regarding Mr Gillick and the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service.
The Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is insufficient evidence to support any prosecution against Mr Gillick and therefore, no further action will be taken against him.
70 or so fraudulent emails had been sent including one using the name and address of local business woman Kirsty Slattery.
The Council has been advised by the Metropolitan Police that the partnership Brent Borough Chief Inspector, Andy Jones, is aware of this decision. The Metropolitan Police has requested that any queries regarding the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service go through Andy Jones.
Reacting to the news this afternoon she said:
I think the whole process has been purposely drawn out and detrimental to the people and businesses it affected.Kensal Rise Councillor Dan Filson was even more scathing:
So somehow no one is responsible for these acts of fraud (?) according to the CPS and at no point has anyone even received an apology from Brent Council.
The fraud affected my business as it misrepresented my standing in the community. This should never have been allowed to happen, someone ought to have been held accountable for these deceitful actions and the very least I would expect is a sincere apology.
This news seems released by the CPS deliberately at a time when attention is elsewhere. Shame on the CPS.
I am appalled that an attempt - by whoever, though the email thread heading may offer a clue - to pervert the planning process had not resulted in a prosecution.
It would be useful to know if the reason for this decision is insufficient evidence linking the alleged perpetrator to the offence(s) or an unclear charge upon which a prosecution could be hung?
A dangerous precedent has been set, that a fraudulent attempt to mislead a planning authority as to the level of support for a planning application from the community and as to who in that community is supporting it by way of impersonation. We don't now know whether this stunt has been pulled in respect of other applications in this or other boroughs.
Questions should be asked in the House of Commons
The issue of the fraudulent emails has been a long and complicated affair. In September 2013 The Save Kensal Rise Library Campaign wrote on their website:
We are expecting the council to pursue the origins of the fraudulent submissions of support for the planning submission as reported in The Kilburn Times and The Evening Standard last week.The police later appeared to have dropped the investigation but after the demolition of the pop up library in February 2014 both the Council and Muhammed Butt made statements to the Willesden and Wembley Observer:
We have been promised an investigation and report as soon as possible.
Help us to keep up the pressure on the council to find out where this dodgy support comes from by writing to the Leader of the Council and your local councillors asking them to make sure the council makes every effort to find out who is guilty of this fraudulent support. We can’t allow local democracy to be undermined by such abuse of the consultative processes of the council.
A spokesman for Brent Council said:The investigation was reinstated with various sections of the police responsible at any one time and recently there has been a long silence on the matter despite frequent requests for information.
The council undertook its own detailed enquiries before referring the matter to the police and provided the police with a summary of the outcome as part of the agreed referral process through the National Fraud Reporting Centre. The council remains very concerned about the way that the planning portal was used on this occasion and has subsequently made changes to forestall future problems arising. The council wants to continue to maintain the highest level of integrity with its planning process, since the authority continues to have statutory responsibilities to consider planning applications that are submitted.
Labour leader of the council Muhammed Butt said:
It is bitterly disappointing that the police have chosen to ignore the evidence found in the council’s own inquiries and drop their investigation. When the future of the building affects hundreds of Brent residents and the entire Kensal Rise community, any issue of alleged fraud must surely be a priority in order to maintain the trust of local people.
Whilst I know that this Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government has cut the police force by a fifth in the last three years, I am troubled that this investigation has not been carried out as a matter of urgency. Brent Council will be writing to demand that the police review their original decision and launch an appropriate investigation.
I agree that the final outcome is far from satisfactory.