Picture courtesy of Wikipedia
Truth is stranger than fiction
Once upon a time there were two Councils -
A Town Council and a County Council,
and lots and lots of fake postings on a blog.
But I’ll let the emails tell this story:
From Helen Pender:
To: Geoffrey Pook – legal department
Dear Mr Pook
Do stop dissembling. I am now formally making a request, under the Freedom of Information Act.
Who used the internet link in the Council Chamber at 9pm at night to make a comment on Martin Brookes' blog? Who used the library computer to make similar tasteless comments? Since Council facilities were used, after opening hours, at 9pm at night, my request properly falls under the Freedom of Information Act.
Disingenuously trying to pull the threadbare covers of the Data Protection Act around the questionable activities of those with access to the Council Chamber is not going to work. From your actions it now appears that protecting the guilty is an accepted part of the duties of Council officials in Rutland. Your collusion in protecting the guilty now makes your own position untenable. I require this information forthwith.
1. The Council does hold the information – you were supplied with all necessary information by Martin Brookes - you have the means to ascertain who was logged onto Council computers at 9pm at night. Whether or not you have chosen to ascertain this information is irrelevant. You are now being asked to do so and I have a right to ensure you provide me with this information. So find out and tell me who it was.
2. The police appear to be happy not to pursue crimes when committed by local Councillors, so that avenue is now closed. The only avenue of justice is now to be furnished with the information and make my own arrangements for seeking redress. Under the Human Rights Act one has a right to seek redress. (See recent Court Reports - Europe)
3. Whether or not I am an aggrieved party I still have a right to this information under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.
4. You disingenuously assert: “. What comments were posted at 9.00 pm from Council computers? We have received an assertion (which may well be correct) that Mr Brookes's blog was accessed one evening by someone using or purporting to use the Council's wireless internet router, which is available to be accessed by anyone in the general area of the Council Chamber. I am not aware of any comment posted on that occasion.” Mr Brookes has now proved that it is only possible to use the Council’s computer link when in a Councillor’s or Officer’s chair within the Council Chamber. He assures me that the computer access was not available at the time from anywhere other than a very limited area within the Council Chamber. Your hint that someone skulking in the car park may have posted the comments is designed to deliberately mislead.
5. I think you are aware that members of the public sitting in public seating would not be able to access the Council’s internet system from the public seating area. Talk about smoke and mirrors! It won’t work.
6. I asked Local Councillors asked the following question on 24 June: “I have been told in the strictest confidence that Cllr Joyce Lucas told a member of the public that Cllr Brookes was a paedophile at the opening of Royce's recreation ground. I hope this is not true?” Since then no one has issued a denial – which you may remember from your legal training is tantamount to an admission of guilt in Civil Law. About a week later a number of tasteless posts were repeatedly made on Martin Brooke’s blog, purporting to be written by me. They were not written by me. If the calculation is beyond your remediably challenged arithmetical skills I suggest you re-engage your brain once more or stop associating with brainless Councillors. You are not stupid, please don’t behave as if I am. The circumstantial evidence points to local Councillors and the only reason we can’t get hard evidence is because you refuse to supply it.
7. As for your very subtle slur, once again proving your linguistic competence and ability to exploit every legal finesse, I am sure you know that I have cancelled my access to Oakham library computers for the last several months and I do not have a personal I P address, since I rely wholly on library computers. I am tired of proving my innocence only for you to ensure the perpetrators have further opportunities to bandy cowardly and tasteless comments in my name.
Stop trying to muddy the waters with irrelevant questions. I am entitled to this information and you have a duty to give it to me. I repeat: Under the Freedom of Information Act who posted those comments using Council facilities to do so? All you have to do is ask your I T people. Why are you being so abnormally shy about talking to your colleagues?
From: Geoffrey Pook
Sent: Wed, 17 November, 2010 17:11:01
Subject: RE: Internet Activity
Hello Ms Pender.
I have not asked for the request contained in the final paragraph of your e-mail of yesterday to be logged as a Freedom of Information request, but the eventual response would be much the same as the one set out below and would take considerably longer to reach you.
If the Council held the information, which it does not, almost certainly it would not be disclosed to you as to do so would be unfair processing of personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act. If such information amounted to potential evidence in respect of a possible crime, then it would be shared with the Police.
The information is not held because tracing can be made to the router providing the internet access, but not to a particular computer if more than one may be connected through the router.
Looking beyond that basic point, and without decrying your entitlement to be aggrieved if someone is posing as you, your comments seem to me to include many assumptions. I would be interested in any substantiation you are able to provide.
1. What comments were posted at 9.00 pm from Council computers? We have received an assertion (which may well be correct) that Mr Brookes's blog was accessed one evening by someone using or purporting to use the Council's wireless internet router, which is available to be accessed by anyone in the general area of the Council Chamber. I am not aware of any comment posted on that occasion.
2. Why do you conclude that any such posting was made by a senior officer or councillor? The building was not closed; there was a meeting which was open to the public in progress on the evening in question.
3. Has your name been put to particular comments posted on Mr Brookes's blog by the author, or is it the case that your IP number has been used?
4. Why do you state that the offending postings are the work of local councillors?
From: Helen [email@example.com]
Sent: 17 November 2010 15:59
To: Geoffrey Pook
Subject: Fw: Internet Activity
Dear Mr Pook
I have not had a reply to my email below. Do I have to cite the Freedom of Information Act?
These comments were posted by a senior officer or Councillor on a Council computer after the library and offices closed to members of the public and junior staff. They were therefore made by a senior member of staff or a Councillor and as such are under the jurisdiction of the Freedom of Information Act. I expect to receive a copy of the names forthwith.
From: Martin Brookes
Dear Rutland County Council
Since my meeting with Mr Pook, I placed a tag on the computer used at RCC as you are aware it was used to access my blog once again yesterday lunch time from Oakham Town Council offices.
Shortly after woods some very disturbing comments were posted suggesting I am making this up and some how it is all a fairytale.
When are councils like Rutland County Council and Oakham Town Council going to stop suggesting people are mad who are critical or in my case they say I am in human and pure evil. This person who I am now satisfied is a County Councillor or senior member of staff, has had an obsession with me for nearly two years now.
Yes the activities I have been subjected to in the real world have upset me but I can assure you I am not mad.
The tag informs me they logged onto my blog in the Leicester area yesterday afternoon at 5.37pm via a BT IP 81-152-120-220
Since August there comments have been of a worrying and absurd sexual nature and in some case homophobic.
It is clear the laptop is old style and suggests it could be a RCC issue.
I trust RCC are doing all they can to identify this user.
I am disgusted that Data Protection protects the person you know who uses the library and the police wont take action when you give them their name and address.
One of these people is responsible for the vile post I receive and the credit accounts opened and the ladies clothes sent to me.
And even more worrying the order for a grave stone.
I wonder why the local press wont publish my findings. For fear of sounding mad everyone knows you have a strangle hold on the local press.
This is true because the Rutland Times and Rutland Mercury currently print anything Oakham Town Council release that suits them, this is organised by ex editor and Town Councillor Tor Clark.
----- Forwarded Message ----
Sent: Tue, 16 November, 2010 13:59:30
Subject: Fw: Internet Activity
I have been forwarded a copy of your email to Martin Brookes. This is not acceptable. Justice has to be done and frankly the postings made in my name on Martin Brookes' blog have been going on for far too long. These are local Councillors and the nature of the material is obscene. It is tantamount to stalking and is having a substantial impact on my freedom. I have cancelled my access to Oakham Library computers in order to protect myself. Your inability to pursue the miscreants smacks of double standards. I can bet that you would not hesitate to pursue these miscreants if they were targeting local councillors.
You may remember the part you yourself played in ensuring Martin Brookes' Flick'r account was closed when it was pointed out what a drunken hypocrite the then Mayor was. Martin quite rightly posted a photograph of her and her mates drinking in front of the bandstand. He also posted a picture showing that the area was 'designated'. He then showed the press cuttings of her interview with the local press boasting of her part in banning drinking in Cutts Close. You appeared to think this perfectly acceptable exposure of Jan Fillingham's hypocritical behaviour deserved to be censured. Frankly your own behaviour smacks of chopped logic and a lack of clarity of thought as well as collusion with the miscreants.
I should like to know who has made my life so unacceptably difficult and I should also like to know which senior member of staff or Councillor was making unacceptable postings at 9pm at night from Council computers. Don't hide behind Data Protection. Your failure to protect law abiding citizens from being persecuted makes you an accessory to the crimes committed against both Martin Brookes and me.
From: XXXXX@rutland.gcsx.gov.uk – G Pook – legal department
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 17:10:04 +0000
Subject: RE: Internet Activity
Hello Mr Brookes.
I have discussed your concerns with Inspector Monks.
The approach of the Police towards issues of material posted on the internet is based on proportionality. As you can imagine, there is such a high volume of potentially relevant material that it would require a sizeable dedicated force of its own to take up every case of inappropriate language or content. In general the Police rely on website moderators to control activity and block postings if necessary.
That is not to say that the Police would not pursue extreme cases, eg where personal injury is threatened or incited, but they do not investigate lower level, albeit unpleasant and even abusive to individuals, material which is not in the public domain (in the sense that people have to seek out particular websites to read it).
On that basis the Police are not proposing to take any action on the recent postings which you have highlighted.