Probe finds evidence of smear campaign against Wirral Tory leader - but fails to identify the culprit

Tory group leader Jeff Green: “I am satisfied that the investigator has recognised that there was indeed an attempt to smear me

Tory group leader Jeff Green: “I am satisfied that the investigator has recognised that there was indeed an attempt to smear me"

First published in News
Last updated
by , Geoff Barnes

A senior councillor has been cleared following allegations that he attempted to instigate a smear campaign against the leader of Wirral Conservative group.

Independent investigator Patricia Thynne – commissioned to probe the claim - ruled that there was no case to answer against deputy council leader Cllr George Davies.

Her findings in a 17-page report included the comment: “I have found no evidence of any proposal by Cllr George Davies to smear Cllr (Jeff) Green (Tory group leader) or any behaviour which is capable of breaching the council’s code of conduct, and therefore no breach of the code by Cllr Davies.”

Earlier in the report, however, she indicated that some “key witnesses” had declined to be interviewed.

Ms Thynne wrote: “The only clear evidence of an attempt to mount a smear campaign against Cllr Jeff Green is the letter purporting to describe a meeting with him.

“Whilst the contents may appear ineffective as a basis, I am satisfied that it can be seen as an attempt to smear Cllr Green.”

“There is insufficient evidence to identify the source of this attempt and there is no corroborative evidence as to who wrote the letter or that it was ever circulated. Its contents are less than an adequate basis for such a campaign but I am satisfied that it could be seen as an attempt to smear Cllr Green.

Her findings contain the observation: “There is enough evidence to suggest that the behaviour of a number of councillors in the recent past was at best clouded by political motives and was at risk of breaking the code of conduct.”

Councillor Green raised the issue at full council in December last year querying whether council leader Phil Davies had been aware of a tape recording made last August alleging that a senior member of his administration had encouraged former council workers to smear him to take pressure off his own colleagues and gain political advantage.

Ms Thynne said Cllr Green had been anxious to emphasise that he did not ask for a formal investigation under the members’ code of conduct protocol, nor did he identify Cllr Davies as the possible source of the alleged attempt to smear him.

Councillor Green said today: “I am satisfied that the investigator has recognised that there was indeed an attempt to smear me.

“Even though that campaign was inadequate and ineffective it has no place in any organisation that is genuinely seeking to improve.

“Without full publication of the transcript of the tape, which I firmly believe does exist, it will be very difficult to take this matter any further.

“But I do note that the investigator has called on councillors, whose behaviour was ‘at best clouded by political motives’ to behave in a better way.”

The independent investigation was initiated by council chief executive Graham Burgess after concerns were raised by Cllr Green.

A council statement released today said: “A thorough inquiry was undertaken by an independent investigator and discussed with an independent member of the standards committee to ensure its findings were reasonable and rational, based on the evident available.

Although there was no case to answer the council has chosen to publish the report in line with its commitment to transparency.”

Councillor Davies, who emphatically denied that there was a proposed “smear campaign,” told the Globe he had "no further comment" to make on the report.

Comments (21)

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1:46pm Mon 28 Jul 14

tiprat says...

Come on then, how much does it cost for a 17 page report into a 'playground spat' between our councillors?

No doubt were paying for it....
Come on then, how much does it cost for a 17 page report into a 'playground spat' between our councillors? No doubt were paying for it.... tiprat
  • Score: 10

1:55pm Mon 28 Jul 14

woodcutter 56 says...

Good question how much did it cost and who ordered the enquiry
Good question how much did it cost and who ordered the enquiry woodcutter 56
  • Score: 7

2:14pm Mon 28 Jul 14

ballacrain says...

Would it have been published if there was clear evidence of something untoward. Transparent when it suits.
Would it have been published if there was clear evidence of something untoward. Transparent when it suits. ballacrain
  • Score: 7

3:03pm Mon 28 Jul 14

WirralAl says...

More money flushed down the pan.

Smear it more as always no councillor is ever guilty as they cannot get it to stick!
More money flushed down the pan. Smear it more as always no councillor is ever guilty as they cannot get it to stick! WirralAl
  • Score: 5

3:28pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Growl Tiger says...

It’s all on the news section of Wirral Borough Council web site with a link to the actual document. They claim it's there in the interests of openess and transparency!
It’s all on the news section of Wirral Borough Council web site with a link to the actual document. They claim it's there in the interests of openess and transparency! Growl Tiger
  • Score: 5

4:20pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Mary Adair says...

"Without full publication of the transcript of the tape,"

Oh I'm sure it will emerge and then we shall see ....
"Without full publication of the transcript of the tape," Oh I'm sure it will emerge and then we shall see .... Mary Adair
  • Score: 5

4:29pm Mon 28 Jul 14

rover600 says...

Who refused to Co-operate and why? ... How these people have a strange slant on 'democracy' it seems the word is used only when it suits.
Who refused to Co-operate and why? ... How these people have a strange slant on 'democracy' it seems the word is used only when it suits. rover600
  • Score: 2

5:34pm Mon 28 Jul 14

johnhardaker says...

Dont people realise that as far as wirral council is concerned there is
" NEVER A CASE TO ANSWER" so why have an enquiry in the first place.
They just like to get the whitwash from the basement & gloss over the "PROBLEM" & who pays the poor old ratepayer as usual.
Dont people realise that as far as wirral council is concerned there is " NEVER A CASE TO ANSWER" so why have an enquiry in the first place. They just like to get the whitwash from the basement & gloss over the "PROBLEM" & who pays the poor old ratepayer as usual. johnhardaker
  • Score: 6

8:52pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Hugo1008 says...

More great buckets of whitewash, this present very poorly led Labour Cabinet enclave of thugs and gangsters are the same bunch of parasites that Mr Martin Morton exposed in his whistle blowing.
The same bunch of deceitful devious cretins who elevated the one least worthy bloated one to the Honorable Role of Mayor.
Paid off a number of even more useless so called Senior Directors and Managers with bundles of your cash. Whilst gaining the reputation of Wirral Borough Council being the worst managed and governed local authority in the entire country.
Remember this when you come to vote, if you want more of the same, then vote for the same load of junk as before.
More great buckets of whitewash, this present very poorly led Labour Cabinet enclave of thugs and gangsters are the same bunch of parasites that Mr Martin Morton exposed in his whistle blowing. The same bunch of deceitful devious cretins who elevated the one least worthy bloated one to the Honorable Role of Mayor. Paid off a number of even more useless so called Senior Directors and Managers with bundles of your cash. Whilst gaining the reputation of Wirral Borough Council being the worst managed and governed local authority in the entire country. Remember this when you come to vote, if you want more of the same, then vote for the same load of junk as before. Hugo1008
  • Score: 6

9:32pm Mon 28 Jul 14

Growl Tiger says...

Tried again recently under “the new regime” to get a longstanding 5 year issue reviewed – bearing in mind the old staff have gone under the no case to answer reshuffle and allegedly we now have the new open, transparent and forward thinking Senior Officers so eager to help - so what was the result?

Well nothing actually - we received exactly the same reaction as previously – an arrogant, dismissive, bullying response from Officers which fundamentally told us to go away and not contact them again. So much for the new open approach Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies have allegedly changed.
Tried again recently under “the new regime” to get a longstanding 5 year issue reviewed – bearing in mind the old staff have gone under the no case to answer reshuffle and allegedly we now have the new open, transparent and forward thinking Senior Officers so eager to help - so what was the result? Well nothing actually - we received exactly the same reaction as previously – an arrogant, dismissive, bullying response from Officers which fundamentally told us to go away and not contact them again. So much for the new open approach Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies have allegedly changed. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 5

9:53pm Mon 28 Jul 14

bigfoot says...

Does someone have 'sole'responsibility for this?
Does someone have 'sole'responsibility for this? bigfoot
  • Score: 1

1:32pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Mary Adair says...

Ah George Davies ! Talking of cover ups isn't he the amusing fellow who attempts to disguise Male PB with what appears to be an absurd brillo pad super-glued to his noggin ? ... And a man who by all accounts apparently gets his Indian and Chinese take aways mixed up.

The report is hilarious, casting Mayor Foolkes as super-mayor - Wirral's very own super hero and defender of democracy. Wearing that ludicrous slightly camp velvety robe has obviously gone to his bulbous head!

But the truth will out . It always does, despite WBC's increasingly desperate attempts to "manage their reputation" - Why bother? the public know what they are like. This so called "investigation" is lamentable.
Ah George Davies ! Talking of cover ups isn't he the amusing fellow who attempts to disguise Male PB with what appears to be an absurd brillo pad super-glued to his noggin ? ... And a man who by all accounts apparently gets his Indian and Chinese take aways mixed up. The report is hilarious, casting Mayor Foolkes as super-mayor - Wirral's very own super hero and defender of democracy. Wearing that ludicrous slightly camp velvety robe has obviously gone to his bulbous head! But the truth will out . It always does, despite WBC's increasingly desperate attempts to "manage their reputation" - Why bother? the public know what they are like. This so called "investigation" is lamentable. Mary Adair
  • Score: 6

2:18pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Growl Tiger says...

Ms Thynne’s Report is a trip into fantasy land and is speckled with poor English and spelling errors.
Ms Thynne’s Report is a trip into fantasy land and is speckled with poor English and spelling errors. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 3

9:44am Wed 30 Jul 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Growl Tiger wrote:
Tried again recently under “the new regime” to get a longstanding 5 year issue reviewed – bearing in mind the old staff have gone under the no case to answer reshuffle and allegedly we now have the new open, transparent and forward thinking Senior Officers so eager to help - so what was the result?

Well nothing actually - we received exactly the same reaction as previously – an arrogant, dismissive, bullying response from Officers which fundamentally told us to go away and not contact them again. So much for the new open approach Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies have allegedly changed.
Hey Growl,

That's cos nothing has changed. Just cos you say to doesn't make it so. I wonder if this went out to tender. Doubt it somehow. While the main bully boys and girls still remain then it will never change. All this bullying started when a certain senior officer arrived at Wallasey Town Hall and plans were hatched over a fag or two behind the back.

Burgess is next to useless and Davies is not strong enough,

All the best

Joe
[quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Tried again recently under “the new regime” to get a longstanding 5 year issue reviewed – bearing in mind the old staff have gone under the no case to answer reshuffle and allegedly we now have the new open, transparent and forward thinking Senior Officers so eager to help - so what was the result? Well nothing actually - we received exactly the same reaction as previously – an arrogant, dismissive, bullying response from Officers which fundamentally told us to go away and not contact them again. So much for the new open approach Graham Burgess and Cllr Phil Davies have allegedly changed.[/p][/quote]Hey Growl, That's cos nothing has changed. Just cos you say to doesn't make it so. I wonder if this went out to tender. Doubt it somehow. While the main bully boys and girls still remain then it will never change. All this bullying started when a certain senior officer arrived at Wallasey Town Hall and plans were hatched over a fag or two behind the back. Burgess is next to useless and Davies is not strong enough, All the best Joe Joeblogg85
  • Score: 0

10:42am Fri 1 Aug 14

Local Govwatcher1 says...

Councillors behaving themselves in a better way? How lamentable. I'll bet Ms Thynne's report attracted a fat fee.
Councillors behaving themselves in a better way? How lamentable. I'll bet Ms Thynne's report attracted a fat fee. Local Govwatcher1
  • Score: 0

10:54am Fri 1 Aug 14

Local Govwatcher1 says...

I found this information on the web: Would this be the report writer?

Reach Consulting (Cumbria) Ltd

About Patricia Thynne

Pat is a specialist in individual and organisational change, capacity & leadership development, and assessment. She is a qualified coach/mentor, working with individuals and teams, and a trainer approved by the Institute of Leadership & Management. She has many years experience of organisational and service assessment & review, team building & collaborative working. She is a qualified solicitor (not practising) with 20 years experience of front line legal & advice services in the voluntary sector and as a lawyer & manager in local government. She has a continuing interest in improving the performance of legal services. She is uniquely able to combine effective challenge with a collaborative approach, using the principles of appreciative inquiry and systems thinking to co-create solutions that improve performance and stick.
I found this information on the web: Would this be the report writer? Reach Consulting (Cumbria) Ltd About Patricia Thynne Pat is a specialist in individual and organisational change, capacity & leadership development, and assessment. She is a qualified coach/mentor, working with individuals and teams, and a trainer approved by the Institute of Leadership & Management. She has many years experience of organisational and service assessment & review, team building & collaborative working. She is a qualified solicitor (not practising) with 20 years experience of front line legal & advice services in the voluntary sector and as a lawyer & manager in local government. She has a continuing interest in improving the performance of legal services. She is uniquely able to combine effective challenge with a collaborative approach, using the principles of appreciative inquiry and systems thinking to co-create solutions that improve performance and stick. Local Govwatcher1
  • Score: 0

11:27am Fri 1 Aug 14

hobroW says...

Reach is not a big player either. A net balance sheet value of negative £1976; and some £4334 in its bank (source Companies House)

Director aged 62.

When you got troubles , who're you gonna call?
Reach is not a big player either. A net balance sheet value of negative £1976; and some £4334 in its bank (source Companies House) Director aged 62. When you got troubles , who're you gonna call? hobroW
  • Score: -1

11:30am Fri 1 Aug 14

Growl Tiger says...

Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”.
Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”. Growl Tiger
  • Score: 0

8:31pm Fri 1 Aug 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Growl Tiger wrote:
Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”.
So what's the connection then? There has got to be one. They must have picked her for a reason. I bet a pound to a pinch of salt it didnt go out to tender. I wonder how much it cost?
[quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”.[/p][/quote]So what's the connection then? There has got to be one. They must have picked her for a reason. I bet a pound to a pinch of salt it didnt go out to tender. I wonder how much it cost? Joeblogg85
  • Score: 1

2:16pm Sat 2 Aug 14

Local Govwatcher1 says...

Joeblogg85 wrote:
Growl Tiger wrote:
Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”.
So what's the connection then? There has got to be one. They must have picked her for a reason. I bet a pound to a pinch of salt it didnt go out to tender. I wonder how much it cost?
This may be the clue from her website, to Ms Thynne being the investigator of choice by WBC:

She is a qualified solicitor (not practising) with 20 years experience of front line legal & advice services in the voluntary sector and as a lawyer & manager in local government.

The tentacles of local government acquaintance allegedly reaches far and wide.
[quote][p][bold]Joeblogg85[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Growl Tiger[/bold] wrote: Just looked on that site and if you believe the blurb there is nothing that woman can’t solve. It’s written in the same glowing language that WBC uses to promote its own imagined “achievements”.[/p][/quote]So what's the connection then? There has got to be one. They must have picked her for a reason. I bet a pound to a pinch of salt it didnt go out to tender. I wonder how much it cost?[/p][/quote]This may be the clue from her website, to Ms Thynne being the investigator of choice by WBC: She is a qualified solicitor (not practising) with 20 years experience of front line legal & advice services in the voluntary sector and as a lawyer & manager in local government. The tentacles of local government acquaintance allegedly reaches far and wide. Local Govwatcher1
  • Score: 1

10:08am Mon 4 Aug 14

hobroW says...

assuming WBC's payment policies , and assuming the fee was more than £500!, it should appear in July's payment csv published on WBC website.

I should imagine that Reach attended the LGA conference and that is likely where they met the lady.
assuming WBC's payment policies , and assuming the fee was more than £500!, it should appear in July's payment csv published on WBC website. I should imagine that Reach attended the LGA conference and that is likely where they met the lady. hobroW
  • Score: 0

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