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:
Who else knew about this?
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?
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 unanimous. We 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…
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?
Guido senses a disturbance in the force down Wandsworth way…
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.”
“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…