Monday 3 February 2014

Supine Brent Council accept NFA in alleged Kensal Rise fraud

Who would Miss Marple suspect?
Accusations of malpractice in planning application in Brent are not new.  There were suspicions about a last minute surge in support for the Willesden Green development LINK, an independent investigation was carried out over Paul Lorber's email interchange with the bidder for the Barham Park library site LINK and currently we have the issue of fake emails submitted for the Kensal Rise Library development. LINK

At the weekend Cllr Muhammed Butt revealed in a sharp email interchange with a Labour Party member that the fraud police had decided not to take their investigation further. A strange decision when such developments are worth millions of pounds.

One would think that Brent Council, as the guardian of council taxpayers' money and responsible for the fair conduct of planning applications, having had their attention drawn to the fake email by KR campaigners,  and finding enough evidence in their own investigation to pass the matter on to Action Fraud, would have established why the police had decided on no further action.

 I am sure Miss Marple would consider the question, 'Who stands to benefit from this fraud?' and then investigate accordingly.

Does the lack of a police investigation mean Brent Council just goes ahead with hearing the planning application as if nothing has happened. Do the residents who have clearly stated that their addresses were used without their permission, for a cause they did not support, just accept that no further action will be taken?

Instead of any such action Fiona Ledden, Head of Legal and Procurement at Brent Council, copied a complainant into this email, which is a masterpiece in conveying absolutely nothing in four paragraphs.

I am writing to inform you of the outcome of the police investigation into the potential fraudulent use of emails in respect of the planning application for the building of the former library at Kensal Rise.

The Police have now informed the Council that it is not taking further the investigation into potential fraudulent emails in respect of the planning application for the building of the former library at Kensal Rise.

The Council does want to continue to maintain the highest level of integrity with its planning process, since the Council continues to have statutory responsibilities to consider planning applications that are submitted.

I know you will be disappointed by this conclusion but in taking the action, the Council has already demonstrated their continuing concerns with regards to this matter.
If the planning application and committee hearing goes ahead, as if nothing has happened, it will be a strange way of  demonstrating 'continuing concerns' on this matter.


Anonymous said...

As with the similarly mysterious outcomes in the Davies, Evans, I.P.Patel Copland cases (dropping of charges, a slap-on-the-wrist sentence and the failure to prosecute over the Mary Fedden paintings), conspiracy theories end up looking like the most rational and logical explanations.

Dan Filson said...

One wonders at what level in the police service was this decision made? It leaves open the door to fraudulent representations on planning applications all across the country, not just in Brent. Sooner or later the law must test whether this is a crimiinal offence - one assumes it must be - and what penalties should follow. Tracking who sent the emails should be simple given the ability to dig out such information as witnessed in certain recent investigations. The Broough Commander should elucidate his/her reasons for this inaction.

Anonymous said...

Given the highest bidder was accept by All Souls College on the assumption by the winning bidder that planning permission would eventually be successful, but such success can not possibly be granted by Brent Council if it is found the winning bidder used deception to secure the favourable support for the planning applications.

A very fishy smell indeed. Any self respecting Councillor that calls for a full enquiry and not just a White easy, before planning permission is actually granted is doing what they were elected to do.

Come on Councillors start acting like you represent the interests of the people and not just a developer potentially profitting from a community asset.

claremounties said...

Anonymous said...

Brent Council was not "the body which discovered the fake emails", and it didn't refer the matter to the police: Local people connected with the Save Kensal Rise Library campaign first discovered that emails supporting Andrew Gillick's planning application - submitted in August 2013 - were fake and passed their evidence to Brent Council which then did its own investigation and passed the matter on to Action Fraud, which decided there was sufficient evidence for a police inquiry to the matter.

Martin Francis said...

Thanks. I will correct the article. Worrying that Brewnt Council's own procedures did not pick up fake emails.

Meg Howarth said...

Indeed. What's worrying, though, is that Brent appears not to have followed up at least two individual residents' complaints of their addresses being falsely used to support Andrew Gillick's application, one a Kensal Rise business owner. Comments had to be submitted in someone's name/s. If these residents' names were - like their addresses - stolen by whoever compiled the comments, that is fraud. Despite complaining directly to the council about the misuse of her address, one of the two residents hadn't even received an acknowledgement of her complaint at the end of last year!

It is the names accompanying the addresses that can unlock the entire email fraud perpetrated on behalf of the developer's proposal - and Andrew Gillick's St Mary Mansions address almost certainly holds the key (see Wembley Matters 1 Feb). If Brent had been advised that Mr Gillick's flat was sub-let at the time a comment using his address appeared, did Brent's Audit and Investigation Bureau question visit the address and question the tenants? If not, why not?

Ms Ledden's pitiful letter, above, surely cannot be allowed to be the end of the affair? Residents deserve better than this. May's local election of new councillors is only a couple of months away. They will doubtless make their views known.

Meg Howarth said...

It would have been the City of London police National Fraud and Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), not Brent police, that decided not to pursue the matter any further. NFIB is the body that investigates online crime, and was forwarded Brent's dossier by Action Fraud, the civilian reporting centre to which the council would have referred the case. Brent's police would only have been called in if the NFIB had decided to pursue the investigation. I'm sure they could have done a much better job than the NFIB appears to have done.

Meg Howarth said...

There was no 'highest bidder' for the library building, only the one commercial developer, Andrew Gillick's Platinum Revolver/Kensal Rise Properties.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention that Brent Council
1. Didn't ask for costs
2. Have made no attempt to get the fiddled £2m plus back.
3. Apparently still hold some Mary Fedden paintings.
All very odd. And there's nothing wrong with conspiracy theories if there turns out to be 'an agreement (explicit or implicit) between persons to deceive, mislead, or defraud others of their legal rights, or to gain an unfair advantage'.

Anonymous said...

Why not tweet the police to say what you think? - @metpoliceuk

Anonymous said...

why not tweet the police to say what you think? @metpoliceuk

Anonymous said...

Thank you for drawing attention to this. I have read the letter, and the article about it, on the Kilburn Times website. It is interesting to note that Brent's standard initial enforcement enquiry letter to All Souls' College, NOT an enforcement notice, was issued in response to a single complaint.
Presumably Brent Planning Department has details of the name and (email?) address of the person who made this complaint. I wonder whether he(?) used his real name and address, or a fake one?

Meg Howarth said...

This is NOT the correct address. It is the City Police National Fraud and Intelligence Bureau that investigated. Brent compiled the dossier because it felt there was sufficient evidence to proceed. It is Brent that must now challenge the police decision not to pursue the matter and that itself must be challenged on its 'supine' reaction. NB would you like to reveal your ID?

Anonymous said...

Given how much the contributors here seem to know about this; given that they appear to have informed the people whose job it is to make enquiries and take action on such knowledge; given that the person suspected of the various dodgy activities has 'form'; given that Brent Council is never in a position to cast the first stone about anything and should no more be chummying up to Gillick than it should have been to I.P.Patel; given that we all know this, the police seem to have been apprised of all this and the various councillors know this and would presumably like to be councillors for a while longer, it seems clear that somewhere in the story there is either massive incompetence and dereliction of duty or an equally sizeable chunk of money buying off someone's inaction.
Presumably Private Eye has covered this story at some earlier point (has it?). It's good that the Standard has got on to it. This now needs to escalate. Every council has its tipping point where the shame becomes too much. Some sections of law enforcement do too. Oxford colleges certainly should, though with the noble tradition of Rachman and Nicholas van Hoogstraten behind them, we shouldn't expect much of property 'developers'.

Meg Howarth said...

Well, someone appears to have been reading Wembley Matters - Cllr Butt: 'Brent Council will be writing to demand that the police review their original decision and launch an appropriate investigation'

This is good news but it needs to be done urgently, and doesn't stop Brent's own Audit and Investigation Unit reopening its own inquiry in tandem. Officers know what they have to do - it isn't difficult and could be done quickly. No further planning application from Andrew Gillick - or anyone else - for the Kensal Rise Library site can be heard against this background, whatever the legal planning policy niceties.

Anonymous said...

Maybe no investigation because it is not a crime?

maybe not fair but not a crime and maybe the investigation found that the supports and objections were coming from a small number of IP addresses.

With every library application having fake emails of support you have to question was this a tact by the Hippies to try and render the application invalid? Call me cynical.

As for the dream the council can refuse a planning application.... if Fred West sent a planning application in for an extension to his house they would have to process it.

Anonymous said...

Your comparison to Fred West is misconcieved.

A planning application should be based on 1 statement per physical person or organization and not as it seems a large number in favour of a planning application at first glance might come from different people.

Society does not tolerate normal theft nor should society tolerate those who may benefit from a favourable planning application.

Enough said

Police start acting