Friday, 25 April 2008

A REPLY TO TODAY'S GAZETTE LEADING STORY " GUILTY OF A FRACAS"







The IOTG ran its story today, as expected, about the un-becoming behaviour last year at The Winter Gardens of Sandy Ezekiel, Leader of Thanet District Council, who represents us as 'Our Leader'. The whole incident does no-one credit but him least of all. As others involved Cllrs Watkins, Clark and Hart feel that the Gazette has not reported the story correctly, they have issued a 'Statement' that I copy in entirity below. I have still no doubts, in my mind at least, that it is time for the fine younger talent in the Tory Group at TDC to replace some of the ' Tory old guard' who I have been reliably informed seem quite happy with their nickname 'The Mafia' and perhaps should start with its 'Godfather'. I fear the damage being done to the Conservative Party and its reputation by the unseemly conduct of its Thanet 'Leader'; for goodness sake replace him and fast!
Here is the statement by Cllrs Watkins, Clark and Hart.
==============================================================

For over a year now we have been forced to stay silent about the incident at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball at the Winter Gardens Margate in April 2007 due to ongoing investigations.

However, due to a wildly inaccurate story in a local newspaper today we feel we have to make the following response.

The full report is due to be published on the Standards Board for England website in the next few days.

Please pay particular attention to the IMPORTANT SUMMARY after the responses.
________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. John Watkins to Cllr. Ezekiel’s Behaviour at the Mayor of Margate’s Retiring Ball on 14th April 2007.

‘My complaint concerned the disgraceful aggressive and abusive conduct by a senior elected member of the Thanet District Council. It took place in a public place at the end of a civic occasion and was witnessed by horrified members of the public, staff members of the Winter Gardens and local councillors and their wives (my wife included).

In addition to the actual shameful incident, was the sheer hypocrisy involved from a man who, at a public meeting earlier on the same day had been loudly complaining of the same kind of anti social drunken behaviour that is often displayed at the weekend outside bars and clubs on our main seafronts in Thanet’.

Cllr. John Watkins.

John Watkins is a Thanet District Councillor for Margate Central Ward,
and also a Margate Charter Trustee. He is a retired Margate Lifeboat Station Official and a former Royal Naval Auxiliary Officer.
__________________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. Doug Clark to the appalling behaviour of & subsequent false allegations made by Cllr. Ezekiel.

‘I was absolutely appalled by the threatening behaviour of Cllr. Ezekiel towards myself as the Town Mayor of Margate during the last moments of my Retiring Ball.

I was also very concerned when Cllr. Ezekiel abused my Town Sergeant (who was protecting me) and also attempted to provoke another Margate Charter Trustee.

My many guests from voluntary and community organisations across Margate had enjoyed a wonderful evening, which was then spoilt by Cllr. Ezekiel’s yobbish behaviour just as we were preparing to leave.

What I find most incredible of all, is that Cllr. Ezekiel would then make totally false allegations against myself and another distinguished guest to the Police in an effort to cover up his own appalling behaviour’.

Cllr. Doug Clark

Doug Clark is a Thanet District Councillor for Cliftonville West Ward, and also a Margate Charter Trustee. He is a JP of 27 years standing, who is currently a senior East Kent Magistrates Court Chairman (adult & youth courts). He was formerly a member of the Lord Chancellors Advisory Committee, the Youth Justice Board for Southern England and the Town Mayor of Margate 2006 - 2007.
________________________________________________

Response by Cllr. Clive Hart to the appalling behaviour of & subsequent false allegations made by Cllr. Ezekiel.

‘The actions of Cllr. Ezekiel at the end of the Mayor’s Retiring Ball were simply outrageous!

For Cllr. Ezekiel, an ex-boxer, to aggressively threaten and abuse the much older Town Mayor at the end of his own Civic Retiring Ball was both shocking and frightening. To subsequently turn his aggression onto other innocent guests was absolutely shameful.

To make matters far worse Cllr. Ezekiel then made a series of spurious and malicious allegations to the Police against decent law-abiding people in an effort to cover his own shortcomings and this simply compounded his original outrageous behaviour.

Cllr. Ezekiel should apologise to all concerned, especially to the female staff at the Winter Gardens and all the female guests who were forced to witness his unprovoked outburst of aggressive behaviour and loud yobbish ‘gutter’ language.

Cllr. Ezekiel should also apologise profusely to all the residents of Thanet, especially ratepayers and taxpayers, for wasting a whole year of time, energy and resources of our local Police and other agencies with his spurious and malicious allegations.

Cllr. Ezekiel knew only too well, that due to his senior position, his bogus allegations would have to be thoroughly and exhaustively investigated by senior officers whose valuable time would always be desperately needed elsewhere’.

Cllr. Clive Hart

Clive Hart is a Thanet District Councillor and a Kent County Councillor, a Margate Charter Trustee, the Chair of Governors at one local Special School and sits on the Management Committee of another. He has a long history of voluntary, community and welfare work with both youths and adults across Thanet.
_________________________________________________________

IMPORTANT SUMMARY:

These statements should not be used in any way to bring the role of councillors in general into disrepute. The vast majority of councillors do a hard job under difficult circumstances and usually for very little reward.

It should therefore be clearly noted that only ONE councillor behaved badly on the night of the Mayors Retiring Ball and then pointlessly wasted valuable public time & resources.

Cllr. John Watkins was simply a witness to the incident as he was preparing to leave the venue with his wife and had no involvement whatsoever in the incident.

Cllr. Doug Clark, then the Town Mayor, was also preparing to leave with his wife and though shocked and stunned by the unprovoked attack upon him, he turned and walked away.

Cllr. Clive Hart was leaving the venue with his wife and was some distance from the incident. Although berated and goaded by Cllr. Ezekiel, he too simply turned and walked away.

The Conservative Party must now decide what to do in response to Cllr. Ezekiel’s actions.


_______________________________________________________________________

Published by Cllrs. Watkins, Clark & Hart – 44 Northdown Road, Margate, Kent. CT9 2RW
=====================================================
What do you think?

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have seen the summary reports from the Standards Board today and no further action will be taken against any of the three councillors involved.

The IOTG's story is indeed inaccurate - none of the three broke the code of conduct according to the standards board. It has criticised people's behaviour, that is all.

The three member statements are ahead of the full report, which will remain confidential, says the board, so at the moment we're only seeing one side of the argument.

I would expect writs to be served on IOTG very soon. They have messed this one up big time.

Nick, Whitstable

Bertie Biggles said...

Thanks for that information, Nick. I suspect the full report is going to be interesting. The response by Cllrs Watkins, Clark and Hart pulls no punches and such a response is often indicative of a strong case with legal advice perhaps taken? The IOTG could well be in some difficulty!

Michael Child said...

I have seen the standards board and the ombudsman’s reports recently sometimes a little damage here and there, but when the chips are down, nothing much. Why?

Anonymous said...

What in sodomy are you talking about? It says they failed to comply with the code, surely that means they broke the code?

Anonymous said...

So Doug Clark is Chairman of the Bench is he ?

mmmmmm

So it would have been him to whom a Common Law Information of Misprision was laid naming another TDC councillor.

Small world and strangely on topic

bertie biggles said...

Were the timings right for that Rick?
21.49, it would appear that the three Cllrs who were caught up in this fracas were not in breach of the code of conduct therefore they did not break the code of conduct?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bertie Biggles said...

I now repeat 22.21's post with suitable editing of language:

Yeah, but they WERE in breach of the code, so what the **** are you on about?

The point I am trying to make 22.21is that I have not seen the full transcript of The Standards Board report and until I do, I cannot be as sure as you. You will get my apology in due course, if you were correct all along! In the meantime could I ask that you refrain from strong language on this site, even though you get heated on an issue? Thanks.

womanbloke said...

Rumour has it the investigation did not result in any action because of the conflicting stories about the words used by the Labour councillors involved. Such that one of them at least could have perjured themselves, and is alleged not even to have been close enough to hear. So although it was acknowledged that Ezekiel did in fact say a word that was not very polite, there could well have been a certain amount of fabrication of evidence as the Labour councillors evidence did not agree what it was!? So this story may have further to run, with actions against "witnesses" by the Standards Board? And there is the report into Clark's alleged bad behaviour against Ezekiel's missus still to come.

Isn't it exciting to have real life political gossip in little ole Thanet!?

Cllr David Green said...

Tory spin in overdrive!
1. Premature release through a "friendly" supine medium
2. Try to undermine witness statements anonymously.
3. Play it down as a squabble or fracas.
4. Say the're all as bad as each other.

What next?

Anonymous said...

Lets have a look at the outcomes then...

Ezekiel.
The ethical standards officer considered that in the circumstances of this case, no further action needs to be taken.

The complainant, a member of Thanet District Council, alleged that after attending the ‘Mayor’s Retiring Ball’ on 14 April 2007, Councillor Sandy Ezekiel swore loudly, used abusive language and behaved aggressively towards the retiring mayor, called another member a “f***ing w***er” and adopted a threatening attitude towards the town sergeant, a member of the public who carries various ceremonial duties.

The ethical standards officer considered that the events were largely a dispute between two members, started by the retiring mayor, which was escalated by other members joining in. There were several different accounts of the sequence of events. The ethical standards officer noted that some of the witnesses’ accounts apparently differed according to the political affiliations of those involved, so she gave particular weight to the evidence of those present who had no personal or political links with the retiring mayor or Councillor Ezekiel.

The ethical standards officer concluded, based to a significant extent on Councillor Ezekiel’s own evidence, that Councillor Ezekiel had been offensive and discourteous towards the retiring mayor and another councillor. The available evidence was not sufficient for her to reach a conclusion about the allegation of threatening behaviour towards the town sergeant.
The ethical standards officer took the view that a number of members had generally behaved inappropriately during the incident. While she did not excuse Councillor Ezekiel’s conduct, the ethical standards officer found that under the circumstances, no further action was necessary.

The ethical standards officer found that in the circumstances of this case, no further action needs to be taken.

The complainant, a member of Thanet District Council, alleged that Councillor Doug Clark made an anti-Semitic comment to the complainant’s wife about a Holocaust Memorial Day service, referring to it as “the Jews’ do”. It was also alleged that Councillor Clark made comments to the complainant’s wife about the complainant’s religion and his attitude towards Christmas and questioned the complainant’s religious beliefs in relation to his non-attendance at certain civic events. It was further alleged that at his retiring ball as mayor, Councillor Clark was aggressive towards the complainant, subjecting him to a physical and verbal assault by aggressively accusing him of not participating and trying to pull him by the arm.

Councillor Clark stated that he had read the words “Jews’ do” from his diary, where he had written them to save space and because his dyslexia meant that he could not spell ‘Holocaust’. However, the ethical standards officer considered that in reading the words out, Councillor Clark was offensive and disrespectful, particularly as he was aware of the complainant’s Jewish heritage and that his wife was present.

In respect of the alleged remarks about Christmas, the ethical standards officer concluded that in the context of the conversation they were not disrespectful. The ethical standards officer also found no evidence that Councillor Clark’s language had been unreasonable or discourteous in the discussion about attending civic events.

With regards to the altercation at the Mayor’s Ball, the ethical standards officer noted that Councillor Clark may have started the dispute. Based on the eyewitness’ evidence, she concluded that physical contact had probably not occurred. She further concluded that even if Councillor Clark had behaved as the complainant and other members of his political group had alleged, his behaviour would not have been sufficiently disrespectful to be a breach of the Code of Conduct.
The ethical standards officer found that no further action needed to be taken.

Anonymous said...

"the ethical standards officer considered that in reading the words out, Councillor Clark was offensive and disrespectful, particularly as he was aware of the complainant’s Jewish heritage and that his wife was present."

So he did break the code then?

"Councillor Ezekiel had been offensive and discourteous towards the retiring mayor and another councillor."

So he did break the code then?

bertie biggles said...

Thankyou for that 14.48; it's nice to read what sounds like extracts from the report by The Standards Board for England before they have published it. This business takes on more of the appearance of the 'ya-boo, sucks' playground squabble all the time and perhaps tells us more about the odd process that goes on at The Standards Board than anything else as it tries to arrive at the truth.

I suspect a Headteacher would say to the 'Head-Boy', "I expect better from you in this situation, Ezekiel mi, but I will leave it up to the other Prefects as to your future as Headboy."

Anonymous said...

I think your missing the point bertie. They have already issued the report. its on the webiste. Ken gregory has already pointed us to it. go have a look for yourself.

Bertie Biggles said...

Thanks for that! I wondered where such detailed extracts came from!

It seems to me that the ethical standards officer's finding was that the code had been broken by both but given the aspects of partisan evidence and claim and counter claim, came to the conclusion that no further action was necessary in both Ezekiel and Clark's cases.

The interesting aspect though is that the Cllr Clark and the reading from the 'diary' was the breach of the code and nothing else. His behaviour at the Ball did not breach the code.

The reading from the 'diary' and other complaints seems to have been thrown into the matter of The Ball like the schoolboy admitting " Yes I did have a go at him at the Ball, Headmaster, but last term he called me a nasty name!"

I find it all very sad and confirms my stated position that The Tory Group should find themselves a new leader.

Michael Child said...

Click on the members names to read the findings.

Clive Heart

Doug Clark

Sandy Ezekiel

Anonymous said...

Just a minor point. If Ezekiel is so concerned about his religious background can someone please explain to me why he was married to his cuurent wife in St. Andrew's Church, Reading Street, a Church of England establishment?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, should be current wife.

bertie biggles said...

My apologies 22.21/15.34! Yes, they both broke the code (Ezekiel& Clark) but on different issues and on different occasions!

CLIVE HART said...

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONSERVATIVE TDC LEADER



Cllr. Ezekiel



A year of high-level investigations is now over and I write to demand an apology for your aggressive and abusive behaviour at the Mayor’s Retiring Ball.



By your own evidence, you accept that you shouted vulgar abuse at me in a failed attempt to goad me into becoming involved in a fight. That was absolutely appalling behaviour, especially coming from a District Leader at a civic event.



Instead of phoning me the next day to apologise, you then deviously set about ‘slinging mud’ in each and every direction in order to cover your own shortcomings. The most serious aspect of these actions was to make spurious and malicious allegations to the Police against me, which were extensively investigated and thrown out by the Crown Prosecution Service, the Police and finally, the Standards Board for England.



You knew only too well, that due to your senior position, your bogus allegations would have to be thoroughly and exhaustively investigated by senior officers whose valuable time would be wasted.



If you still refuse to apologise to me, you certainly should, at the very least, apologise to the female staff and guests at the Winter Gardens who were forced to witness your outburst of aggressive behaviour and loud yobbish ‘gutter’ language.



As the District Leader you should also apologise profusely to all the decent residents of Thanet, especially ratepayers and taxpayers, for wasting a whole year of time, energy and resources of our local Police and other agencies with your spurious and malicious allegations.



Cllr. Clive Hart



(TDC & KCC)



AND FROM DISTRICT COUNCILLOR JOHN WATKINS



At the Mayor’s retiring ball last April, Councillor Doug Clark who had just completed a busy year of engagements representing Margate, was the victim of an unwarranted, brutish and disgusting verbal assault from a man who at the time would not have been in a fit state to tie his own shoelaces. Councillor Ezekiel, having been restrained by a number of concerned and horrified people, including his own wife and the deputy mayor, then turned his attention to another TDC member, in an attempt to goad him into a fight. This disgraceful conduct was subsequently reported to the Standards Board for England. On learning of this fact Ezekiel then made a complaint to Kent Police, concocting allegations that were clearly intended to mitigate his own culpability. These were fully investigated and found to have no foundation. The second part of the attempted damage limitation exercise, concerned spurious claims of months of racial harassment, based on a shorthand entry in the Mayor’s diary and a query regarding the Council Leader’s religion prior to a Civic service.



The claim that Cllr. Doug Clark, a senior East Kent Magistrates Court Chairman and a JP of 27 years standing is in any way racist is ludicrous. Aside from the fact that his former wife is herself of the Jewish faith, Councillor Clark has for many years provided accommodation in his house for hundreds of students from every corner of the globe. This pillar of the community, who spent last Christmas day in Cliftonville, cooking dinner for the homeless, has now had his good name besmirched on the front page of a newspaper by a man, who is so out of touch with contemporary morality that he can conduct himself at a public function, exactly like the foul mouthed yobs he has complained of at public meetings. Anti social behaviour coupled with hypocrisy was then followed by false allegations to the police, wasting hours of their time. To say that I am disgusted, would be putting it mildly. Thanet needs and deserves much better leadership, Ezekiel should resign forthwith.



Cllr. John Watkins

(Margate Central Ward TDC)

Anonymous said...

Is it any wonder that so many voters say,'I'll not vote for any of them but stay home and watch tv? The whole thing just reinforces the average voter's prejudice against politicians of all colour when our civic leader behaves like a yob when he should be setting a good example. The fact he felt he'd been racially abused for months is pathetic. He's a grown man. Surely he could sort it out quietly with the Labour Group's leader if necessary? This is a playground feud that's got out of control and now the Tories are closing ranks and trying to put a spin on the whole issue. What's the betting the Gazette ignores the fiasco now in the hopes that what was written stays in the public's mind? Why spoil the fiction by the facts?