Wandsworth Council Suspend Tory Fraud Suspect

Wandsworth Council have finally opened their eyes to the ongoing fraud scandal at Wandsworth Conservatives. This statement was put out last night:

COUNCILLOR ROBERT MORRITT

Ravi Govindia, leader of Wandsworth Council, is to ask the next ordinary meeting of the Council to stand Councillor Robert Morritt down from all Council committees, following the publication of a series of allegations concerning his period as Conservative Party agent, prior to his election as a councillor.

Councillor Govindia says: “I have been disturbed to read a series of allegations in recent days concerning Councillor Robert Morritt.  All the allegations concern his alleged activity before he became a councillor, and none concern council taxpayers’ money, but I believe it is essential to get to the bottom of what has happened.  I do not wish to distract from the vital work of the council committees that he sits on and will therefore ask the next ordinary Council meeting to suspend his membership of them.”

Councillor Morritt is a member of Wandsworth Council’s Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, General Purposes Committee, Adult Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Joint Staff Committee, Chief Officers Joint Consultative Committee and Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education.

Guido will look into some of the detail included here later, but there are conflicting reports over whether the Tories have suspended the whip as well. Guido understands that senior figures in the local party have begged Morritt to resign, but he is digging in and refusing to go. He’s currently still the Deputy Chairman of Justine Greening’s constituency of Putney…

Mark Elliott, Chairman of Putney Conservatives and Ravi Govindia, the Leader of Wandsworth Council are on holiday this week, which has slowed things down. Either way it’s clear to see that the original statements put out by Wandsworth Tories accusing Guido of lying and making this scandal up were woefully inaccurate…

You can read the full background to the suspension here.

Yet More Unexplained Cheques in Wandsworth Fraud Scandal

The longer Wandsworth Council keep their heads in the sand about their audit committee councillor and a missing  £20,000 from Tory coffers, the murkier the cover up looks. So far Robert Morritt has claimed that the blank cheques he was writing to himself were for his “expenses”. That excuse cannot work all the time though…

As Guido understands it, Wandsworth Conservative Group has a detailed system in place for the purchase of stamps. This system, which involves cheques being signed by two signatories and presented with a special guarantee card, has been used for years. In the first five months of 2008 WCG forked out some £20,000 for stamps in the normal manner. Why then did Morritt himself claim a further £5,000 during this period to purchase stamps on WCG’s behalf?

On 26 February 2008 a cheque was written to Morritt for £2,000, apparently to buy stamps, while on 2 April he was paid another £3,000 for the same reason. £2,000 worth of stamps were bought using the regular method on 20 February – six days before Morritt’s first purchase – while another £1,000 worth were bought on 31 March, two days before his second cheque was issued. Why were so many stamps needed in such a short space of time? Why did Morritt deviate from the standard procedure and buy the stamps himself, with no counter-signature? When are Wandsworth Council going to stamp down…

See also:

Wandsworth Gags Councillors Over Tory Fraud

The Deputy Leader of Wandsworth Council has ordered silence over Guido’s on-going exposé of the fraud and cover-up at the heart of Wandsworth Conservatives. The following diktat was sent to all councillors:

From: Jonathan Cook
Sent: 02 August 2012 15:01
To:
Subject: Guido Fawkes

Dear All

You may well have seen reports posted on Guido Fawkes’ blog in recent days.

Anthony Cole, as Chairman of the Wandsworth group of associations, has responded with a statement, copied below, which makes the position clear.

If you are contacted by any journalists I suggest you decline to comment, and refer them to Alex or me.

Many thanks

Jonathan

More internal communucations coming up. Guido’s favourite one is is where Rob Morritt, after being caught with his hands in the till, gets threatening…

The £20,000 Question for Wandsworth Conservatives

Yesterday Guido shone some light on over £8,000 worth of cheques written to Justine Greening’s agent in the run up to the 2010 General Election. Today he brought you a rather muddled statement from Wandsworth Conservatives that can be summarised as “move along people, nothing to see here”. They are currently standing by Robert Morritt – who is now a councillor and on the Audit Committee, ironically, of Wandsworth Council. As if the previous allegations were not enough to spark a new inquiry, how about this…

Guido can now reveal that a further £20,000 paid to Justine Greening’s former agent between 2007 and 2010 has gone unaccounted for. Wandsworth Conservative Group employees are required to record a reason for the issue of cheques in an invoice ledger, but Morritt failed to do so on no less than 23 separate occasions. Here is how the internal investigation – that Wandsworth Conservatives chairman Anthony Cole claims had settled the matter – covers the issue:


Why has Morritt failed to give an adequate explanation for £20,000 worth of cheques paid to him?

Where is the money?

See also:

Wandsworth Tories Demand Guido “Desist” No Evidence Presented to Suggest Allegations Inaccurate

Wandsworth Conservative Group have broken cover in response to Guido’s recent exposé. Their Chairman Anthony Cole has released this statement:

“In the course of his employment with Wandsworth Conservative’s [sic.], Mr Morritt was required to incur expenses.  In early 2010, legitimate questions were raised about expenses paid to Mr Morritt and the surrounding control systems. A detailed, thorough and independent investigation was performed and a series of detailed questions subsequently put to Mr Morritt.  Mr Morritt satisfactorily answered all of these questions. There was no ‘missing money’ or ‘fraud’; there is absolutely no evidence he ‘kept the cash for himself’ or that there was personal gain for Mr Morritt.  I request that you immediately desist from allegations to the contrary.”

They are standing by their Councillor Robert Morritt, who sits on Wandsworth Council’s audit committee…

So Mr Cole, Guido has a copy of the said report that was compiled in late 2010. As covered here, Morritt was forced out from his position as agent in July 2010 – after the General Election – and it was only after that the books were turned over and other questions arose. Guido has asked Wandsworth Tories whether “early 2010” suggests that suspicions had been raised pre-election.

The “detailed, thorough and independent investigation” that Guido has a copy of would suggest that far from “satisfactorily answering” questions about missing cash, it in fact opened a huge can of worms. Guido showed you yesterday over £8,000 of unexplained cheques. There are more to come too…

If there was no “missing money” or “fraud” how come the accounts do not show any reference to these “expenses” racked up by Mr Morritt? The accounts were not an accurate reflection of spending…

If, as Mr Cole claims, “Mr Morritt satisfactorily answered all of these questions…” and there was  no “personal gain for Mr Morritt”, how come he was forced to pay back over £5,000 when he was ousted in autumn 2010?

Guido will “desist from allegations to the contrary” when some evidence is presented. Vague claims of “expenses” are not good enough in the light of overwhelming evidence of dodgy activity. Given Guido has the accounts, the reports and the cheques, perhaps Mr Cole and Mr Morritt would like to show him some receipts?

See also:

Morritt Pocketed Election Deposit Dosh Missing Cash Scandal Spreads Beyond Wandsworth

Not content with cashing £1500 meant for comms equipment and nearly three grand supposedly for a colleague’s leaving present, it seems even a general election provided an opportunity for Tory councillor Robert Morritt to play his missing money game to a new level. On 7 April 2010, Morritt was issued with a cheque for the sum of £2,000 to pay for “candidate deposits” in the approaching general election. Deposits are £500 per constituency and there are only three constituencies in Wandsworth. So what was the other £500 for? No explanation, it would appear, so we can only assume “expenses” again.

All those Tory candidates in True Blue Wandsworth got their deposits back at the election. Morritt was refunded £1,500 by Wandsworth Council shortly afterwards. No doubt he quickly repaid the amount to Wandsworth Conservatives, right? Nope, he kept it for himself. What’s more, if you’re a Tory reading this in Wimbledon, he pulled the same trick on you. £500 of your money for Stephen Hammond’s deposit never came back. “Expenses” are very expensive these days.

By Guido’s reckoning that’s nearly £8,000 gone on unexplained “expenses” for agent – now councillor – Morritt. It’s no wonder he’s on Wandsworth Council’s audit committee. He knows every trick in the book.

When Guido put these allegations to Morritt last week he claimed “In the course of my duties I naturally incurred a number of expenses that have all been satisfactory accounted for.” Yet as you can see his explanations are more than a little shakey. We haven’t even got on to the cheques written out with an explanation…

Guido spoke to one senior Wandsworth Conservative earlier who lamented: “I was present at a meeting shortly after the 2010 elections where it became obvious that we were basically bankrupt. No one could understand why. Now it seems we are finally getting an explanation.” When Guido approached another senior official at Wandsworth Tories, who is believed to have unearthed all of the wrongdoing, he refused to comment. However, when pressed with the details Guido has revealed today, he declined to deny they were accurate…

To be continued…

See also: Justine Greening’s Agent in Addison Lee Fraud MessWandsworth Tory Auditor in Voodoo Accounting Mystery More Questions Over Morritt’s Missing Money

More Questions Over Morritt’s Missing Money – Councillor Kept Comms Cash For Himself

Earlier Guido revealed how Justine Greening’s former agent and current Tory Councillor Robert Morritt has become mired in a missing money mystery, but the questions don’t stop there. While selecting council candidates in 2009, Wandsworth Conservatives recognised the need to boost their communications capabilities and decided to splash out on some conference call equipment. Morritt was issued with a cheque for £1,500 to go and buy the equipment (which he promptly cashed) but, three days later, he hadn’t managed to find anything suitable. In the end, a senior activist was dispatched to solve the problem. She paid for the kit herself and was then properly reimbursed. As for the £1,500 given to Morritt? You guessed it, it was never seen again…

And there’s more. Selection meetings can be long and tedious so a nice venue, some decent wine and a few nibbles goes a long way to breaking the boredom. In 2007, Wandsworth Conservatives set about selecting a candidate for the local London Assembly seat. This was a joint task with Merton Conservatives. Morritt was only too glad to organise both stages of the whole affair, and he was reimbursed £796.25 for the costs shortly afterwards . The problem is that the books show other invoices paid by Wandsworth Conservatives for the same events, also amounting to £700. So, Guido hears you ask, why would the treasurer reimburse him if the bills had already been paid?  The answer is simple: Morritt reimbursed himself. He had access to pre-signed cheques and filled in his name and the amount he decided he should take. So what was this money for? When asked in 2010, back came the answer: “Expenses”.

Guess what? There’s more…

See also: Justine Greening’s Agent in Addison Lee Fraud MessWandsworth Tory Auditor in Voodoo Accounting Mystery

Robert Morritt’s Missing Money – Wandsworth Tory Auditor in Voodoo Accounting Mystery

Last week Guido broke the news of a brewing crisis involving Justine Greening’s former agent and current Wandsworth councillor Robert Morritt. When reading the following revelations, remember that Morritt sits on Wandsworth “the careful spending” council’s audit committee. Upon discovery of his secret taxi account in 2010, shocked Tory chiefs in Wandsworth Conservatives did some more digging. Guido has seen a report into the results of the internal investigation, and it makes for very interesting reading…

There’s nothing more important than sending off a long-serving volunteer with a good leaving present. In fact, if the 2008 books of Wandsworth Conservatives are to be believed, the going rate is pretty steep.  It seems that when a blank cheque was handed to Morritt to buy the gift in May 2008 he promptly cashed it for the astonishing sum of £3,000.  Sadly, the unsuspecting recipient – his identity will be revealed in later disclosures  – actually only received a much more modest decanter valued at £200. So, £2800 missing? Where did that go, councillor? When asked that question in 2010 whilst under investigation, he simply replied “expenses”. Someone had a good night out…

The missing money doesn’t stop there. Party members constantly moan about the cost of party conference but, if the books of Wandsworth Conservatives are to believed, they have something of a point. In 2008 Morritt (as was his right as agent) asked them to pay for his pass for the annual conference in Birmingham. The problem is that the bill seems to have come to £1,012 – at least that is the value of the cheque he was written for that very purpose in July that year. On this rare occasion, he does seem to have provided a receipt. For £118. So that’s another £894 missing. “Expenses”, presumably?

Stay tuned for more damaging revelations…

See also: Justine Greening’s Agent in Addison Lee Fraud Mess

Justine Greening's Agent in Addison Lee Fraud Mess

Guido has been leaked details of an internal inquiry into Justine Greening’s former agent and current Wandsworth councillor, Robert Morritt.  The agent for the Wandsworth Conservative Group at the 2010 election stands accused of running a secret Addison Lee taxi account that racked up over £26,000 in journeys between 2008 and 2010.[…]

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