Guido Has a Question for Wandsworth Metropolitan Police

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?

Guido has all the evidence.

Drop him an email

Taxi for Morritt Fraudster Thrown Out of Wandsworth Tory Council Group

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…

Judgement Day for Wandsworth Tories

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.

You can see all of Guido’s stories on the Wandsworth cover up here.

Greening’s Association Chair Accuses Guido of “Malicious Lies”Calls Finding of Fraud Investigation “Totally Spurious”

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?

Tory Meltdown in Wandsworth Greening, Hammond and Ellison Facing Questions

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?

Tory Fraudster ‘Unfit to Stand For Election’

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.

You can see all of Guido’s stories on the Wandsworth cover up here.

Crunch Vote Coming for Tory Fraudster Greening’s Agent Finally Losing Support of Council

The clock is ticking for Tory fraudster Cllr Rob Morritt on Wandsworth Council. As exposed by Guido, Justine Greening’s 2010 agent stands accused of fraudulently helping himself of over £50,000 of party funds through cheques and taxis during the campaign. After a cover up and a inquiry was followed by a cover up and another inquiry, Morritt is finally losing the confidence of his colleagues.  The Wandsworth Guardian has more this morning; he finally faces being booted out of the Tory group and deselected at the end of the month:

Click to Enlarge

Who else knew about this?

Background here:

Wandsworth Cover Up: Activists Threaten to Knife Council Boss

It all went quiet over the summer for Rob Morritt, the Wandsworth Tory councillor caught trousering some £50,000 in expenses during his time as Justine Greening’s agent. The patience of a group of local activists has been tried too far, they are now threatening to pass a vote of no confidence in impotent council leader Ravi Govindia. Guido understands a letter to a local newspaper is being passed around key volunteers calling on Govindia to either act, or step aside. Readers will remember how a selection committee ruled that Morritt is not fit to be considered for selection at the next local elections and approved a motion of censure. Despite that Guido’s source in Wandsworth reports:

“Nothing is being done about this thieving b*****d. They are just d**king around, holding meeting after meeting, promising to act against him but delivering nothing. It is utterly pathetic. Five years ago Wandsworth Conservatives was one of the most well organised and impressive campaign machines in the country. Now it is falling apart.”

Why might they be so reluctant to act?

You can see all of Guido’s stories on the Wandsworth cover up here.

Wandsworth Tories Put Greening Agent in Crosshairs

Readers will remember Guido’s campaign against Rob Morritt, the Wandsworth Tory councillor caught trousering some £50,000 in expense claims during his time as Justine Greening’s agent. Not only have the selection committee ruled that Morritt is not fit to be considered for selection at the next local elections, Guido understands that they have approved a motion of censure, leaving the thieving councillor with very few options. Guido’s source whispers:

“The decision was swift and unanimousWe are completely fed up with him. He has refused to resign, refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing and he acts like he has a God given right to political power. Despite all he has done, he was offered a way of going quietly and he threw it back in our faces. At last, we are taking a stand against him.”

Expect developments next week…

Independent Fraud Investigation Finds Wandsworth Wanting

Regular readers will recall that last year Guido was leaked huge amounts of paperwork regarding a fraud carried out by Justine Greening’s agent in Putney between 2006 and 2010. Robert Morritt had since got himself elected on to Wandsworth Council and local Tories saw fit to put the report in the drawer and pretend £50,000 had not gone walkies. You can read the full story here.

In the wake of Guido’s exposé, that revealed the full extent of the theft and the cover up, an independent investigation was set up; apparently to dispel concerns that the author of the first report was in some way “biased”. Cllr Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, chartered accountant and all round upstanding citizen, has now produced that second report and, guess what? It confirms what Guido was saying. Hard copies of the report have been seen by council figures to avoid it leaking, but Guido has spoken to sources familiar with its content. Puddlefoot is said to have identified even more problems with Cllr Morritt’s time at the Wandsworth Conservative Group.

CCHQ are, as one might expect, having kittens and have made it known to officers of Wandsworth Conservatives that either they deal with Morritt or the Party Board will. Yet silence so far. The report was published over a week ago and meeting after meeting has been held to persuade Morritt to resign from Wandsworth Council and trigger a by-election. He is refusing. A source at the heart of all this tells Guido: “Morritt is clinging on for dear life, desperately hoping that a small clique of followers in Putney and a few unsubstantiated claims about how all of this is a conspiracy will save him. It will not. Nothing can save him and if he had the slightest interest in the good of the party, he would do the honourable thing.” What’s the one about honour and thieves?

Wandsworth Tory Fraud Developments

Guido senses a disturbance in the force down Wandsworth way…

Background here:

Wandsworth Tories Worried About Whitewash

The news from Wandsworth Conservatives yesterday that a semi-independent inquiry into serious fraud covered up in the group has been greeted with scepticism by members involved in the exposing of the story. Two sources familiar with previous investigations are particularly unhappy. One emailed Guido saying:

“Every internal inquiry has produced a confidential damning report accompanied by a public “move along, nothing to see here” approach. They even made people sign gagging agreements in order to cover the discrepancies between the public smile and the internal stench. To reassure members and voters that Wandsworth Conservatives have not been complicit in fraud and electoral malpractice the Conservative Party need to commit to publishing the previous internal reports, this report in full and to rescind the previous gagging agreements. That those who know the facts and have been raising concerns have been ignored in this process points towards yet another attempted whitewash and yet another step closer to a full police and electoral commission investigation.”

Another added:

“Finally there is recognition of the huge black hole in the books. However, there is considerable concern amongst members that this inquiry is essentially just a way of killing a story before it gains any more traction. At the end of the day, the guy was sacked for charging thousands of pounds of personal taxi fares to party members and then falsifying accounts to cover it up. You don’t need to be a forensic accountant to work out that the law was broken, repeatedly.”

At the moment it would appear that the investigation’s findings will not be made public…

See also:

Tory Fraud: Semi-Independent Scrutineer Appointed

Guido had not forgotten the chaos he caused down Wandsworth way this summer by revealing more than £50,000 in suspected fraudulent payments to the local Conservative agent. Two years after concerns were first raised internally, an independent investigation has been called and the suspect – Councillor Robert Morritt – has been suspended. The details of the inquiry have been released today:

The Conservative Party in Wandsworth and Wimbledon is establishing an inquiry into allegations appearing in the media concerning accounting irregularities during the period (2006-10) when Robert Morritt was in its employment.   The local Conservative Party is organised in four Conservative Associations in Battersea, Putney, Tooting and Wimbledon.  These Associations pool resources in the Wandsworth & Wimbledon Conservative Group.  Rob Morritt was employed by its predecessor organisation, known as the Wandsworth Conservative Group.

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, has been asked to: Conduct an independent review of the professional activities, including recent media allegations, of Robert Morritt during his employment with the Wandsworth Conservative Group. The review should be thorough, evidence based and should make observations, draw conclusions and recommendations as appropriate. Cllr Puddifoot will report his findings to the Group Management Committee of the Wandsworth & Wimbledon Conservative Group, who will then make a detailed public statement covering the allegations that have been made.  Cllr Puddifoot will conclude his investigations as soon as practically possible but the importance of a thorough investigation precludes a set time limit.

 Cllr Puddifoot has been Leader of Hillingdon Council for 12 years and is a past Treasurer of the Uxbridge Conservative Association. He is by profession a Chartered Accountant and served for many years, on a voluntary basis, as a General Commissioner of Revenue and Customs.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.  Cllr Puddifoot has no previous connection with the Wandsworth or Wimbledon Conservative Associations.

A professional outside auditor would have made more sense, especially given that elements Conservative Party have already systematically covered this story up already. Two investigations already compiled have found over £50,000 of unaccounted funds, yet they were ignored by Wandsworth Conservatives – instead they promoted Morritt. Guido has offered to make all the evidence he has in his possession, and it’s a lot, available to Mr Puddifoot.

He looks forward to hearing from him…

Read the full story here.

Wandsworth Labour Threaten to Call Police Over Tory Fraud

The Wandsworth Guardian have picked up the growing scandal at Wandsworth Tories. Leader of Wandsworth Labour Party, Councillor Rex Osborn is getting involved as well, threatening police action:

“The allegations of misuse of Conservative funds are very serious and may be a matter for the police. We welcome the move by Councillor Govindia to suspend Councillor Morritt while the matter is being investigated. There are questions to be answered when these allegations were first known to Wandsworth Council. If there is any evidence that they have covered up the wrong doing as long back as 2010 they must say so before this issue damages the reputation of Wandsworth Council.”

You have to wonder who else above Wandsworth Council knew too…

Read the full background to the scandal here.

Furious Wandsworth Fraud Councillor Loses Party Posts

Guido hears that next week’s Wandsworth Guardian are going heavy on the Wandsworth Conservatives fraud cover up that Guido has been exposing over the last month.  Guido has the full evidence of Councillor Robert Morritt having his hand in the till while he was the Transport Secretary’s agent at the last election. As a result of pressure applied from various angles, today we learn he is to stand aside as Deputy Chairman of Justine Greening’s constituency party.

Morritt has broken cover, and despite already being suspended by a Wandworth Council, he is trying to claim he is standing aside voluntarily because he is so squeaky clean. His long and rambling statement is about two weeks too late:

“It is a sad fact in politics that malicious individuals can fire off accusations about people who are elected to serve their communities, and in certain quarters have their vicious claims taken at face value. In the past few weeks I have been on the receiving end of a number of scandalous accusations of fraud and wrongdoing during my time working for Wandsworth Conservatives, all of which are completely untrue. In addition, I have been subject to vile attacks by individuals unknown in an attempt to damage me politically, professionally and personally. Therefore I would welcome an independent review of the work I delivered for my previous employer, and for this to be conducted by a suitable person as soon as is possible. I will be writing to Wandsworth’s Chief Executive later today so that he is aware I will be voluntarily not attending any committees until the report is concluded. I will be adopting the same approach in respect of any posts I also hold in the voluntary party. There is no doubt in my mind that I carried out my duties in a highly professional manner and the results achieved in various elections are a testament to that. The chairman of Wandsworth Conservatives has been very clear that in his view there was no wrongdoing and I was warmly regarded by my colleagues and by the volunteers. As for those persons behind these unprincipled and false accusations, I can only express my disgust and disappointment.”

An interesting use of the term “voluntarily” there. The whole statement has a touch of the Huhne to it…

See also:

The Questions Wandsworth Won’t Answer

In last night’s statement Wandsworth Council declared that they would be suspending Tory fraud suspect Councillor Robert Morritt at their next council meeting. What they did not mention is the fact that the next full council meeting is at the end of October. Council sources also indicate that Robert Morritt has not had the Conservative whip withdrawn. Wandsworth Tories are back to ignoring Guido’s follow up questions. Despite being suspected of defrauding Wordsworth Conservatives, it has fallen to the council to take to action. The local party seems in complete paralysis – Morritt has refused to resign and is digging his heels in.

The statement itself is once again riddled with inaccuracy. For example, the claim that “all the allegations concern his alleged activity before he became a councillor.” This is just not true. Agent Morritt became a Councillor Morritt on election day in May 2010. When he was sacked from Wandsworth Tories, he was a councillor. A clear allegation made by Guido here certainly relates to when Morritt was a councillor. Subsequent investigations that resulted in Morritt paying back £5,000 all took place in late 2010 when Morritt was sitting on the Wandsworth Council. Silence though…

For the sake of transparency, here are the questions that  Wandsworth Council and Wandsworth Tories are avoiding:

  • The next council meeting is not until 17 October, so Morritt’s suspension will not be effected for nearly nine weeks. Will he continue to attend committee meetings until that time?
  • Will his expenses and attendance fees connected with committee membership be withdrawn immediately, when he is formally suspended, or not at all?
  • Does he remain a member of the Conservative Group on Wandsworth Council? If so, does he continue to attend political meetings with fellow Conservative councillors? Does he continue to receive Conservative Group papers and communications?
  • If he is still a member of the Conservative Group on Wandsworth Council, what steps have been taken to suspend him from it? When will his suspension be effected?
  • Is he still deputy chairman of Putney Conservative Association? Have there been any discussions with CCHQ about this? What is Justine Greening’s view?
  • If he is still deputy chairman of Putney Conservative Association, what steps have been taken to remove him from this post? When will this be effected?
  • What investigation is it that Council Leader Ravi Govindia now anticipates will be undertaken into this affair? Who will lead it? What will its terms of reference be?

As Guido said at the beginning of this expose, this goes all the way up.

Wandsworth Conservatives seem to be making it particularly hard for themselves by thinking if they say nothing it will all go away.

It won’t…

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”.[…] Read the rest

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