Sept 8th 2010- Statement: Why we left the Liberal Democrats

September 14, 2010 at 10:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Sept 8th 2010- Statement: Why we left the Liberal Democrats

Statement By the former members of the Executive Committee of the City of Plymouth Liberal Democrat Party

September 8th, 2010

Why we left the Liberal Democrats

Last year we were elected to the executive committee of Plymouth Liberal Democrat Party. On our election we became deeply concerned at several potential breaches of law and parliamentary protocol.

Before our election the party was already beset with problems resulting from the behaviour of two Lib Dem parliamentary candidates: Judy Evans and Karen Gillard who may have misused the sensitive voting data of the citizens of Plymouth. This Data combined with the EARS software includes the names, addresses, telephone numbers and voting preferences of the citizens of Plymouth.

In particular, access to this data was granted by Judy Evans to an individual who was not a member of the party. Karen Gillard also kept a copy of this Plymouth Data in Cornwall. Both candidates ignored several requests by the executive for the return and proper use of the data. A chairman of the party resigned in protest at this behaviour.

Of further concern to us was the behavior and actions of several officers of the Lib Dem regional and federal party in response to the attempts by previous chairmen of the party to resolve these problems and at our subsequent attempts at resolution. In particular threats were made by regional party secretary Mr. Dave Browne to the young elected Data Officer: Max Harding in response to his request to the PPCs for them to comply with the party constitution and Data Protection Act. On learning of Mr Harding’s informing the police of this threat and the party’s potential breach of data protection legislation, Kay Friend, Chair of the Lib Dem regional local parties committee suspended Mr Harding from his party membership.

We requested an investigation by the Lib Dem regional and HQ party officers into the issues raised by the allegations made by a chairman of the City of Plymouth Liberal Democrat Party, the respected retired policeman, Mr Steve Barton. His allegation concerned a missing sum of money from the Plymouth Liberal Democrat party bank accounts during the period 2007 to 2008. During that period a sum of money may have been embezzled from the party accounts by those responsible for the financial management of the accounts at the time.

We are uncertain as to whether or not Karen Gillard,  Steven Turner or Stephen Goldthorpe held the office of treasurer of the Plymouth Liberal Democrat Party during that period. The Electoral Commission in response to our Freedom of Information requests, do not seem to be able to provide a conclusion as to who held the post of treasurer during the 2007-2008 accounting period.

Two previous chairmen of the party, Mr Steve Barton and Mr David Jolly asked similar questions about this matter and attempted to get the Lib Dem PPCs to comply with Data Protection legislation. Both chairmen resigned after receiving emails and phonecalls from Mr. David Allworthy, Compliance Officer at Lib Dem HQ. It is disappointing that these two respected chairmen resigned and that their reputations were subsequently called into question by a Lib Dem Party “spokespman” in the local media.

At the 2009 Annual General Meeting of the Plymouth Lib Dems, Mr Jan Mortier was elected vice chairman of the party executive committee. Mr Mortier had previously worked at the Audit Commission. On his election he called for the independent audit of the Plymouth Lib Dem party accounts for the 2007-2008 period. His party membership was then suspended by the regional officers at the request of David Allworthy. Our requests to party officers: David Allworthy, Dave Browne, Kay Friend and Judith Jolly to properly investigate the party accounts and allegations of embezzlement, resulted in mass suspensions of party membership, threats of expulsion from the party for going to the police and the closure of the Plymouth party by Lib Dem regional party officers and HQ. We were also disappointed that Dr Rebecca Trimnell unconstitutionally appointed herself Chairperson of the party on the resignation of the Chairman: David Jolly.

Requests for an investigation into allegations that Colin Breed MP’s constituency party office in Liskeard and parliamentary telephone lines in that office were used by the resident PPC to run a commercial telephone canvassing business from, and which it was alleged that the PPC may have financially gained from were also ignored by the Liberal Democrat Party.

We wrote to Nick Clegg informing him of the problems in the South West regional Lib Dem party. The response we eventually received from his office implied that Nick Clegg did not want to get involved and told us to take our concerns up with the regional party.

In his statement to the Plymouth Herald newspaper on Tuesday January 19th 2010 Lib Dem party spokesman, David Allworthy, told the Herald that: “The financial issues have been the subject of a formal investigation by the regional party and the Electoral Commission, which both said there were no substantive issues…There is nothing new that hasn’t been investigated by the party and the Electoral Commission.”

This claim is untrue, as on 22 January 2010 the Electoral Commission made the following statement in a letter to us:  “The above also applies to your allegation of a missing sum of money. This was not raised at the time nor was it part of the case review conducted by the Electoral Commission. Any allegation of theft would be a matter for the Police.”

The Information Commissioner has also made a statement expressing concern at the security of the voting data held by the local Liberal Democrat Party.

After attempting every internal party avenue for investigation and resolution of these matters, and being concerned that criminal activity may have occurred within the party and been knowingly covered up by its officers, we asked the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall to investigate these matters and resigned our party membership.

In our opinion the citizens of the South West region may have serious cause for concern at the security of their confidential voting preference data in the hands of the Liberal Democrat Party and at the integrity of that party while the officers and candidates concerned in these issues retain their positions within that party.

Signed

Max Harding, Former Data Officer
Dominic House , Former Youth Officer
Jan Mortier, Former Vice Chairman

Former Executive Committee Members of the City of Plymouth Liberal Democrat Party

September 8th, 2010

Further information:

Electoral Commission Letter:
http://plymouthcoverup.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/electoral-commission-says-it-was-never-informed-about-the-missing-money/

Email and statements by David Allworthy published by the Red Rag Blog:
http://www.redragonline.com/2010/05/are-lib-dem-hq-trying-to-cover-up.html

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