Afternoon everyone, T/Chief Superintendent Paul McGregor here, ready to take your questions. Let's get going #AskWWBoss
— Wandsworth Police (@MPSWandsworth) November 28, 2013
Given that Wandsworth Council Conservative Group have expelled a councillor from their grouping after he was found to fiddle his expenses and fraudulently con the local Tories out of over £50,000, perhaps Wandsworth police would like to have a look at this?
Drop him an email…
Rob Morritt, Justine Greening’s former agent, has been thrown out of the Wandsworth Conservative council group after a two-thirds majority was secured at tonight’s vote. Developing…
More to follow. You’re either in front of Guido…
Wandsworth Conservatives were once a flagship campaigning force, whose success was emulated across the country. They were held up as a shining example of what the Tories could do in local government. Fast forward five years and it stands on the brink; riddled with infighting and shamed by accusations of corruption and cover ups. The scandal is centred around the group’s agent at the last election Rob Morritt who was exposed for fraudulently cooking the books to hide more than £30,000 in missing money and a secret £25,000 Addison Lee bill. Blank cheques, dodgy expenses and lies – Morritt used every trick in the book.
When this was exposed internally in 2010 it was ignored and NDAs were drawn up to try make the issue go away, yet Guido exposed the truth. Three years later and Morritt has managed to get himself elected as a Putney councillor but tonight he finally faces losing the whip when the Tory council group meet to determine his fate. They have been shamed into action by an independent report that confirmed the allegations Guido made. The vote tonight requires a two thirds majority to remove the whip. Despite the council leader Ravi Govindia kicking the stool away from his former campaign manager, plus the evidence of two investigations piled up against Morritt, it’s expected to go to the wire. Bizarrely there are still those willing to defend him. It’s time to lance this boil.
The Tories are demanding that Labour release the Falkirk report again, yet when it comes to their own internal reports about bad behaviour, they are curiously silent. Despite calling in an independent investigator to get to the bottom of why thousands of pounds were were missing from 2010 campaign funds in Wandsworth, and that report being used as the basis to boot out a leading party member from an elected position, they are still refusing to publish it. The Tories are keeping the report under lock and key with those allowed to see it being given a hard copy to read under supervision. This has allowed allies of the former agent to try and spin events…
Justine Greening’s Association Chairman Mark Elliott lost his rag with Guido on the phone last night, frothing about “malicious lies spread by the press” and then claimed the “the amounts alleged are totally spurious”. He then hung up. Yet Elliott, a close ally of both Greening and Morritt, would have read the report. Perhaps he missed the conclusion about the association’s old agent:
“some of the media accusations do have substance and that the actions of Rob Morritt during his time as agent have brought the Wandsworth Conservative Group and potentially the wider party into disrepute. From not banking cash receipts to the use of the Addison Lee account for private journeys, to withdrawing cash for expenses without adequate supporting documentation, to taking reconciled salary top ups, whilst justified in his own mind, was from a professional and probity perspective totally unacceptable and fell well short of what the Group could expect from a trained agent.”
It concludes that Morritt “fell short of providing sufficient, acceptable detail to ensure that he did not gain financial advantage during his employment with the Wandsworth Group.” There’s a word for that.
All this was exposed internally in 2010. Why are senior Tories – from Cabinet level down – still defending or ignoring this?
Guido hears that it’s been a busy old day in SW18 and down the road in Putney. As revealed in yesterday’s Sun, Justine Greening’s former agent Rob Morritt, aka the Wandsworth Fraudster, will face a crunch vote on Halloween which should see him thrown out of Wandsworth Council Conservative Group over the allegations that he defrauded his local party of £60,000 while acting as electoral agent to no less than three Tory Minsters. Justine Greening, Stephen Hammond and Jane Ellison are yet to comment publicly on their agent’s alleged fraud, yet Guido hears that pressure is mounting for Morritt to accept that the game is up.
Surprisingly, Greening’s Association Chairman Mark Elliot is organising support for Morritt ahead of Thursday’s vote. As it stands, Greening has not yet publicly distanced herself from the accused fraudster, despite the fact that her own council leader is trying to force him out. Morritt used to be Greening’s deputy Association Chairman, though that is kept quiet these days. Local sources claim that Morritt spoke to Greening on the phone last week, but this has not been officially confirmed or denied. As for her Association Chairman, a regional-level party source points out: “it’s hardly going to help Elliot’s own political ambitions when his behaviour forces us to put the association into special measures and kick out his entire team.” Guido understands that is a very real possibility if Morritt is not given the boot from the local party.
Guido has asked for comment from Greening, Ellison and Hammond. As of yet they declining the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Why?
This is a man that stands accused of stealing funds directly from their election campaigns, and a man who potentially misfiled their election expenses to cover up his own fraudulent activity. The Tories have tried to ignore this story since 2010, yet it has never gone away. Why do they still look like they are protecting their agent? What does he have on them?
Yet more of Rob Morritt’s Tory colleagues are moving against him. Tooting Conservative Executive have twisted the knife into Justine Greening’s former election agent, accused of fraudulently helping himself to over £50,000 of party funds. They unanimously passed a strongly-worded motion against him last night:
“Morritt is unfit to hold the Conservative whip and unfit to stand for election in the name of the Conservative party.”
Running out of friends fast.