Guest post by Meg Howarth
Muhammed Butt's late-night sneering tweet to Michael Calderbank claiming that Brent Council had 'provided all the evidence and police not pursuing' the fake email business fails to inspire confidence in the council's, let alone the NFIB's, handling of this grubby affair.
An official statement from the council on the matter is needed urgently. Brent was contacted by the police on 21 January. Does it take 10 days - and the shameless destruction of the pop-up at the Kensal Rise Library site - before the release even of this snippet of information - and, then, in this personally antagonistic and entirely unsuitable fashion? Bad news burying even worse news? Michael Calderbank was simply asking about progress of the email investigation.
Some immediate questions that demand public answers are:
- Why have the police decided not to pursue the matter?
- Has the council probed this decision? If not, why not?
- Was Andrew Gillick interviewed by the NFIB (National Fraud and Investigation Bureau)? If not, why not?
- Was the NFIB told of the apparent sub-letting of Mr Gillick's St Mary Mansions Paddington flat at the time a comment using that address was posted on the Barham Library planning application site? Two comments using that address appeared a couple of months earlier on the Kensal Library planning site.
- Was any attempt made to try and trace the fake emails, as Margaret Smith asks above? If not, why not? As a computer expert confirms: 'it could be very easy if...no precautions [were taken], and difficult or impossible in other circumstances'. This is surely where the occupancy of Mr Gillick's Mary Mansions flat at the time of the three planning comments could help resolve matters?
The computer expert went on to say: 'It's not very clever of Brent to collect comments via a system that is this easy to spoof. They could easily take a few precautions, [otherwise] this kind of thing will only become more frequent'. Fortunately, it seems that the council has now beefed up its system of online comment in the wake of this nasty affair. But
the the police decision not to pursue the matter hardly clears it up and any new [planning] application will be heard in an atmosphere of suspicion' (Martin Francis). Precisely.
It seems that a further planning application from Andrew Gillick is expected to be lodged shortly.
The council's lax system enabled the email scam. The very least it must now do is publicise the reasons for the police's decision not to proceed and prosecute. Planning matters around the Kensal Rise Library building can only become even messier without the utmost transparency by the council.
Footnote: 'hippy' references, as posted in comments on this blog. also featured in the online planning comments supporting Mr Gillick's application. It's unclear whether they were found by the council to be amongst the fake emails passed to the police.