This is the complaint sent to the Ombudsman:
The Monitoring Officer Don Pratt misled Cllr. Harrison with reference to my complaint about council lies and a cover up by providing wrong information. Ref: Freedom of Information request 365.
Don Pratt told Cllr Harrison that the Local Government Ombudsman had dealt with the lies and the cover up. The enclosed letter from the Ombudsman shows clearly that he was dealing with a planning matter – lies and cover up are not mentioned in the letter.
Don Pratt said the Council’s complaint procedure had dealt with lies and the cover up. This is not true as Ann Cowley closed the complaint about lies being told to the Ombudsman without answering a single allegation thus initiating the cover up. Copy of complaint and letters referring to the complaint enclosed.
This is the provisional decision by Patricia Coopey:
Dear Mrs Coopey, this is a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Referring to your letter of 13th October 2008:
- Provide evidence to show how the Ombudsman’s decision on a planning matter has also dealt with my complaint of council lying and covering up of lying.
- Show why you consider that I have not raised anything new when there are details of lies on the CD you were provided with that took place some time after the close of the planning complaint.
- Show how the evidence that I have provided on the CD from the council’s own documentation can be considered opinion.
- Provide evidence to show that the Ombudsman has dealt with each and every allegation of lying and the covering up of lying as detailed on the CD.
- Say why you consider this to be a complaint concerning a planning issue when I made it very clear during our telephone conversation on the 1st October 2008 that it was about lies and the covering up of those lies.
- Say why you have not included that part of my complaint referring to Don Pratt’s claim that the Council’s complaint procedure had already dealt with all the allegations of lying to the Ombudsman.
In view of my making this Freedom of Information request please extend the time before you make your final decision on this complaint until all matters have been satisfactorily resolved.
I do not agree that your summary is in any way an accurate description of my complaint.
Sincerely, Gordon Bray.
16th October 2008.
Following the result of the Freedom of Information request this is my response to the provisional decision by Mrs. Coopey on 31st October 2008 by e-mail:
Dear Mrs. Coopey, thank you for arranging for information to be sent under the Freedom of Information Act. Having looked at this I am now able to respond to your provisional decision.
It is clear from this information that you cannot provide evidence of having dealt with any of the allegations of lies and the cover up by the North Devon District Council. By dealt with I mean that you have not asked for evidence from the Council to prove that these allegations are unfounded. The Council has also been unable to refute a single allegation and have not been able to provide any evidence to show the allegations have been investigated. Nobody has taken any action at all.
On the other hand I have provided conclusive evidence from the Council’s own documentation proving that lies have been told and covered up. The complaint I made to the North Devon District Council was about the Monitoring Officer, Don Pratt, telling Council Harrison that the Local Government Ombudsman and the Council had dealt with the council lies and the cover up. This is a lie and led to the matter being referred to your office. It was never a complaint about a planning issue!
I object to you trying to make this an issue concerning a planning decision – it is not. It is however far more serious as it concerns dishonesty by employees and councillors lying and covering up lying. You will notice that the printout you made from the CD is headed Council Lies. This is what the complaint is about. You say that you have not seen any evidence of lies on the CD – there are actually no less than 24 pages of evidence exposing lies and the cover up. Have you overlooked these pages? I see that none have been printed out.
An example of lying - the underlined statement in a letter of 18th April 2006 from Ms. Jean Watkins "I regret that the first I was aware of this specific concern…" this is a lie pure and simple. Andrew Tucker told her all about the problem with this particular tree in a memorandum dated 23rd March 2004. The tree was also clearly marked on the site plans. The lie by Ms. Watkins forms part of the complaint – the tree itself, or its fate, is not an issue. As evidence of the lie has been included on the CD how can this be opinion?
Another example is the lie told by planning manager Easton when providing information for your office in a memorandum regarding my previous complaint about a planning issue. He said that there are three trees protected by TPOs in the way at the prepared entrance from Moorland Rise. This is a lie as confirmed by the memo by Andrew Tucker mentioned above. There is also a photograph - you can count the trees yourself. Easton also said that the entrance from Moorland Rise was not acceptable to the council but also provides information that the council approved this entrance under planning application 30527. All this evidence is included on the CD.
You say that you could not pursue investigation of my new complaint without "going over those same issues". As your office has dealt with none of the issues of lying or the cover up I cannot understand this sentence. It seems to me that you are coming to a conclusion based on your own opinion rather than looking at the 24 pages of hard evidence I have provided on the CD. Your position at present appears to be one of accepting without question anything the Council says and ignoring all the evidence provided with my complaint.
If you do not revise your decision in my favour you will be assisting the North Devon District Council in their dishonesty by sanctioning the lies and the cover up. The message you will send them will be that they can say and do whatever they like and your office will protect them. This is not acceptable and will leave me no option but to ask my MP to refer your investigation to the Minister responsible. On the other hand you could, by reversing your decision, afford the Council the opportunity to purge itself of those dishonest employees and councillors – welcomed not only by myself but by the many others who have contacted and supported me after reading the Council Lies pages.
I have requested a read receipt for this e-mail that has been copied to Nick Harvey MP. and my website.
Yours sincerely, Gordon Bray.
PS. Below are a couple of e-mails sent by readers of my Council Lies pages that may interest you Mrs Coopey – obviously these are not to be regarded as evidence:
"I have read your web site, not with amazement, but with full knowledge that what you have been experiencing is just one part of a very familiar picture. Corruption, lies, we know them all, and so many of the names you mention are extremely well known to us. We too are well down the line with Messrs Easton, Prowse, Pratt, Harrison, etc. As for the complaints department….!"
"Keep up the good work. The political agenda in North Devon is one of corruption, backhanders and jobs for the boys. Our councillors are no better than feudal bully-boy barons in the pay of their overlords, the large business owners of North Devon."
This is the letter in which investigator Patricia Coopey on behalf of Jerry White, Local Government Ombudsman, sanctions dishonesty within the North Devon District Council.
This is my reply to Mrs Coopey:
Dear Mrs Coopey, thank you for eventually confirming receipt of my e-mail.The letter has arrived - were the matter less serious the reasons you use to justify your decision would be laughable. You have by your decision effectively sanctioned dishonesty within the North Devon District Council in the form of lies and the covering up of those lies. This is not acceptable and I intend to take the matter further.In the meantime be good enough to return my CD.Am I hoping too much to receive the requested read receipt?Sincerely, Gordon Bray.
Note: Mrs Coopey's assertion in paragraph four in her letter of 4th November is nonsense - the signature on this letter is clearly not that of Planning Manager Easton and is therefore a dishonest attempt to find any old reason to throw out my complaint. Mrs Coopey should be sacked and, if he had anything to do with it, Jerry White along with her! Mrs Coopey has told several lies in her correspondence - this will result in a complaint against her using the Ombudsman's complaint procedure.