Basildon Council launches internal investigation into botched Dale Farm eviction

At the direction of Tony Ball, leader of Basildon Council, an internal investigation has been launched into allegations of mismanagement, fraud and corruption dating back 30 years in relation to the Council’s handling of the botched Dale Farm eviction. Bala Mahendran, Chief executive of Basildon Council wrote: “I have taken the opportunity to discuss these matters with the Chief Superintendent of Essex Police, Divisional Commander for the Basildon Borough, who has agreed that should the Council’s investigations and any related evidence identify potential criminal actions or activity that Essex Police will take over the investigation.” [1]

In an email to Stuart Hardwicke Carruthers, who discovered flaws with the eviction notices served by the Council, Tony Ball wrote,”Given the serious nature of the issues that you have raised and concerns raised under the Council’s Whistle Blowing Policy, the Council will respond as soon as possible to these issues.”

Mr. Hardwicke Carruthers alleges that senior officials misled the Council as to the legality of a full clearance of Dale Farm. On Monday this week, Mr Justice Edwards Stuart ruled that the full clearance of Dale Farm was illegal. He criticised Basildon Council for failing to fully inform the travellers of the precise means by which it would enforce the eviction and stated that “there was a realistic apprehension that the measures to be taken – while genuinely believed in by the Council – may go further than the terms of the enforcement notices.”[2] The attempt to over-enforce the eviction notices has led to millions of pounds being wasted by Basildon Council.

Further allegations of fraud and corruption relate to the dumping of hardcore and clay onto Dale Farm by the Council before it was bought by the Dale Farm residents, and accusations that money which was paid to store cars on the Dale Farm scrapyard was never properly accounted for [1,3].

The eviction is currently on hold until at least Wednesday, when the High Court is expected to rule on three Judicial Reviews. Kathleen McCarthy, a resident of Dale Farm, and lead member of the Dale Farm negotiation team called again on Basildon Council to return to the table. She stated, “There is still time to talk and find a common sense solution. Basildon Council has been offered free land and resources to resettle us and we hope they will accept this offer.”[4]

Notes to the editor:

[1] Emails between Tony Ball, Bala Mahendran, Stuart Carruthers http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3040807/ball-carruthers-emails.pdf

[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8783670/Dale-Farm-eviction-Monday-as-it-happened.html

[3] Witness statement of Ray Bocking http://dl.dropbox.com/u/3040807/WsRay%20Bocking.pdf

[4] https://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/110831-richard-howitt-mep-3.

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