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. Despite billing thousands monthly over two years, members of the group’s management committee had no idea of the taxi account’s existence and it was hidden in the books. Guido hears that Morritt  developed something of a habit of turning up to management meetings and ordering volunteers to raise more money to cover the costs of impending elections. What he didn’t tell them was that he was spending existing scarce resources on expensive taxis journeys around London. In management accounts seen by Guido there were never any references to taxi fares despite them being top expense items in many months. When the Addison Lee account was eventually  discovered and a deep analysis of the group’s numbers was undertaken, further spending was drawn into question. Guido will be exposing that later…

Morritt denies the allegations despite the fact no record of the taxi account exists in Wandsworth Conservative’s books: “I was amongst other passengers regularly using the company and paid for all personal journeys. In the course of my duties I naturally incurred a number of expenses that have all been satisfactory accounted for. I am not able to add anything further.” For now his new boss Anthony Cole, Chairman of the Wandsworth Conservative Group, is currently standing by him: “There was an Addison Lee account as much travelling was required by Mr Morritt and others. On occasions this was used for Mr Morritt’s personal use and these sums were reimbursed.” Guido has all of the receipts and the vast majority of the £26,000 spent was by Morritt himself. A large number of personal journeys appear, including trips to the airport for holidays and journeys home from nightclubs in the small hours. When this fraction of the bill was paid back is the crucial question…

Morritt was confronted about the account in July 2010 and forced out of his job. On departure he was compelled to reimburse Wandsworth Conservative Group with over £5,000 for his personal journeys. So yes, in a way, he did pay for his own personal journeys, but only after he was caught red-handed. It was only after the existence of the taxi bills was revealed that his personal usage emerged. Original receipts and invoices have seemingly been destroyed. Officially Morritt left on good terms, but Guido has an exchange of letters that says otherwise. There are also frantic emails about the possibility of the truth leaking out to the wider membership and public. This is just the first layer of a much bigger cover up…

Wandsworth group leader Anthony Cole claims that the information Guido put to them “is inaccurate, misleading and full of half-truths. There has not been any ‘deception’, accounts were not ‘doctored’ and all sums have been accounted for.” Perhaps Mr Cole could explain why thousands of pounds every quarter were not included in the accounts then? He can bluster all he wants, but Guido has the books and the spending is not recorded. When Guido attempted to further question Cole’s spokesman, and pointed out that Morritt only repaid after getting busted, no further communication was forthcoming. A Wandsworth source claims: “Its all b****ks. He was ordered to resign and given 24 hours to clear his desk. And the locks were changed behind him.”

What started out with some dodgy taxi numbers goes right up the party machine. There is plenty more to come on this one. You would have expected someone so flagrantly caught out to disappear from the scene, but unfortunately for the Tories, Morritt is not only still a deputy chaiman of Greening’s constituency, he was also elected onto Wandsworth Council in 2010. Hilariously Morritt now represents the Tories’ flagship “careful spending” council for the East Putney ward. Without a hint of irony he sits on their audit committee. To catch a thief eh…



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