The Six questions that need to be answered over the £90k


Okay let me admit it from the start. I am in trouble with the Mayor of Liverpool again. I knew this when within minutes of putting out a tweet saying he should repay the £89,950 I got from him a vitriolic and abusive e-mail. He always claims that if the situation was reversed he would not ask the sort of questions that I do. He forgets that he did frequently and whenever he could before he became the leader of the council and then Mayor.

This all refers, of course, to the FOI request from Audrey O’Keefe that Mayor Anderson’s legal fees had cost liverpool tax payers £89,950. Let me pay tribute to Audrey who is not a Lib Dem but is a devoted mother and a doughty fighter for the people of Liverpool. Audrey kept on going at the strange case of Chesterfield School when I had given up. I thought it wrong that our legal department should have been involved in the matter but basically thought that it’s only cost a bit  of time so no real harm done.

Audrey stuck at it and through her persistence has found that the original statements from the council are incorrect and that we have been stung for a large amount of money which in my view and that of everyone else who has commented is entirely wrong.

It seems to me that there are six questions that need to be answered three by officers and three by Joe himself.

The questions that I have sent to the officers are:

1.        If you were concerned about any constitutional issues affecting the running of the council why did you not clear these up by a phone call or letter to DCLG before spending any money. The legislation under which councillors and Mayors are elected is absolutely clear and any concerns could have been rapidly cleared up.

2.        This is not a new and unique situation. The legislation which put the mayors in place has created about 18 Mayoral authorities and more than 24 Mayors. Why did not our officers get advice from their opposite numbers in those authorities? Indeed two Chief Executives of Mayoral authorities have been on to me in amazement that Liverpool should have got itself into such a situation.

3.         Why has the story changed so much since the Spring? When all this came into the open the officers must have been aware roughly how much the council would be paying out under the indemnity. Yet we were told that this was a matter of a few letters and no expense with the Mayor picking up the legal costs.

But the real questions need to be answered by the Mayor himself:

1.         Isn’t your £80,000 a year salary enough? This is about 3.5 times the median wage in the City Region and itself has an additional hefty pension entitlement. It also more than I have ever earned in a year but as I have said repeatedly I am very happy with what I have earned.

2.        Why did you think that you should earn £4,000 from another part of the public sector for doing no work? You wouldn’t lose your pension although it would not added to. That’s what happens when you change jobs!

3.        Why do you think it right that the taxpayers of Liverpool should pay your legal fees for a dispute with a former employer. The attempt to say that there are constitutional issues at play here is nonsense. The fact is that you pushed through an elected Mayoralty with no referendum because you know that the people of Liverpool would not have voted for it. You should have found out for yourself what effects that would have on you before you took the job!

Joe Anderson probably will not believe this but I do not like having to raise things through the media in the way that I frequently have done. That is because there is no valid scrutiny process available in the council. We used to have a mayoral scrutiny committee and an overview scrutiny committee. Neither of these were very good which is why I did not go to them very often. BUT they could have been combined and given a viable work programme which might just have held officers and members to account.

I will be devoting my next blog to this subject which is not a remote one of governance but an urgent and pressing one to ensure that we get value for money for our taxes.

So let me make an offer to both council officers and to Joe. If you want to respond to this blog please do so. Your response will be unedited (unless it contains things which could be considered libellous or in other ways personally offensive). If you choose to respond elsewhere let me know and I will do my best to direct people to those replies.

If there is nothing to hide you should be absolutely open about this. At the end of the day all of us are accountable directly or indirectly to the people of Liverpool. They have a right  to know what is done on their behalf.

About richardkemp

Leader of the Liberal Democrats in Liverpool. Deputy Chair and Lib Dem Spokesperson on the LGA Community Wellbeing Board. Married to the lovely Cllr Erica Kemp CBE with three children and four grandchildren.
This entry was posted in Liverpool, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to The Six questions that need to be answered over the £90k

  1. joedd says:

    Richard – thank you for your support ……. I await with anticipation Mayor Anderson’s response ……. Audrey O’Keefe.

  2. paul traynor says:

    Excellent Richard. Well done Audrey only a bully hides behind snarling attacks. He thinks he is a know it all spineless labour councillors who.wont say a word. Why. ?I go to union meetings if I get shouted with facts. And if any one thinks they can.bully me. Well let’s meet at the dojo then. Simply he thinks he has a mandate because of tory cuts he should look at the blair years and see what was squandered. I still can’t get why labour keep getting votes. A full.investigation is needed. Can.i file a complaint

  3. joedd says:

    Yes you can complaint to Jeanette McLoughlin, City Solicitor, Legal Services, I personally think this is something the police should be looking at.

    • Catherine says:

      Unfortunately, Ms McLoughlin is a huge part of the problem – in this and in other Council scandals. Most notably, the LDL ripoff, which would have cost far far less, and ended much much sooner, if she had actually done her job properly, as all sorts of info obtained under FOIs has made clear. This isn’t remotely libellous, BTW – I can produce a list of references and docs to back up this statement, if anyone really wants yet another endless rant from me.
      I really wish there was some way of complaining about her, but there doesn’t see to be one.
      Congrats, BTW, Audrey. Great result.

  4. Lisa Jones says:

    The man’s a charlatan, in a role designed by himself for himself. I agree, this is serious enough to warrant a police investigation.

  5. Catherine says:

    Richard – any chance of seeing the text of the e-mail from Anderson?

  6. joedd says:

    Catherine – check the web page – what do they know – Audrey O’Keefe….

  7. joedd says:

    DOH…. yes I would like to see that…….

  8. John Brace says:

    I will give my opinion (for what it’s worth) on the answers to the six questions you pose. I hope you approve this comment (even though it is in part critical of the Lib Dem party).

    Officer questions

    1. Yes the legislation is clear, but I think the point being is that there was an assumption made at some point that elected Mayors and councillors would be treated in the same way. Whether that was made by politicians or officers was unclear. In practice they’re not.

    2. Because if it’s a “political hot potato” and Joe isn’t going to like the answer he hears to the legal advice question, then it’s better to pay an outside third party for legal advice rather than ask another mayoral authority.

    3. It’s called a “limited hangout” and is a PR move to try and prevent further enquiries by the press/politicians. Basically they admit part of the story but that’s it.

    Mayor questions

    1. It’s more than I’ve ever earned in a year Richard too, but this isn’t really the point. The amount (who is the amount for Mayor’s set by anyway) is reflective of the fact he’s answerable to the whole electorate of Liverpool and the various parts of the role of Mayor he has to do (for example on the Police and Crime Panel, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority etc etc). This is why it is more than an MP gets. However the salary really is a red herring to all this. If he was getting paid the same as a councillor there would still be these sorts of questions.

    2. That’s a very party political question which seems to miss the point. The point isn’t that Chesterfield should pay £4k to Joe and get £4k of work in return.

    No, the point is an industrial relations one (councillors are given paid time off similar to the trade union facility time) of should politicians be given paid time off work to be politicians (which they’re also being paid for).

    I’ll give an example. A councillor (part-time politician for most) also works a full-time job. However they have to take an hour off work here or there to attend public meetings during work hours. I think nobody would want meetings to be delayed and can’t make decisions because committees are inquorate or a whole string of apologies along the lines of “sorry, boss won’t let me leave work right now I’m very busy”.

    However the Mayor is a full-time role. The 208 hour rule is for councillors (part-time politicians). Therefore most people would say you either choose to be a full-time politician and try to do it well or try and juggle too many balls in the air by being a full-time politician + other things.

    I would guess that is why there isn’t similar legislation for Mayors because it’s seen as a full time role.

    The point about pension was to do with early retirement. Under the rules one had to be of a certain age to apply for early retirement. The point was made that dismissing Joe before this age means he starts being paid his pension at the normal time and can’t apply for early retirement as he’s been dismissed (and this results in no early retirement costs is cheaper for his former employer).

    I might point out that even had he not been dismissed, whether to grant early retirement would be up to his employer and is not automatic based on qualifying.

    3. I would guess he will answer that because it’s related to him being Mayor and that he didn’t see the dismissal as fair.

    I’ll try and give a personal example perhaps I hope can understand Richard. I used to be a member of the Lib Dem Party. In 2011 the Lib Dem Party tried to suspend me.

    As a result of an error by the party (it failed to send me the complaint that led to the suspension/restrictions on my membership in advance of the disciplinary panel meeting) I sued the Lib Dem Party. I won and a Deputy District Judge ruled that both a councillor and the party had done it unlawfully.

    A court order on both the local party dated April 2012 compels the national/local party to send me a copy of that complaint.

    Three and a half years later I’m still waiting for the party to comply with such a court order as they claim to have deliberately destroyed the information!

    The party nationally, the local party and the councillor chose however ignores the legal ruling (which is possibly a contempt of court issue) and refuses to change its decision in light of the court ruling.

    This is why I don’t trust a party that doesn’t comply with the rule of law or a court order.

    This has analogies to the kind of situation that Joe finds themselves in. Joe is a politician, he felt he was unlawfully dismissed. He disagrees with the law on this, therefore he thinks it should be changed. There’s nothing wrong with wanting laws to be changed in a democracy!

    However it boils down to a sense of unfairness/unjustice. Joe will see going down this route as being vindicated as the Employment Tribunal/Employment Appeals Tribunal found he had been unfairly dismissed.

    Using the anaology of my legal battle with the Lib Dems, in that in the end you can win or lose a legal battle. You can even a few weeks after a battle get more votes than the Lib Dem candidate in an election.

    However people (and the Lib Dem Party) will just carry on as before with an inability to change, because believing a lie is far better than hearing an uncomfortable truth.

    Joe can convince himself that he is staying true to the ideals of the Labour Party by challenging an unfair dismissal.

    Had he done so with his own money people would have said there is a man willing to stake his own money on what he believes in.

    However as Joe is a politician, he has to deal with opposition parties, the public and the press.

    To him, this will seem very different to how it does from the outside to everyone else.

    I will finish by stating that in my legal battle with the Lib Dems I was a litigant in person, therefore did not have costs of a legal representative. There were minor costs associated with the case (paper, postage, time spent in court etc), however I would never have dreamed have asking the taxpayer to pay it,

    I saw it as a personal battle to have a court (someone independent) rule on what I perceived to be an injustice and a breach in the law by a politician (and his party).

  9. Pingback: Mayor Joe Anderson “my good name [has been] dragged through the mud” over £90,000 legal bill for unfair dismissal case | A blog about Wirral Council, Wirral Council's councillors & officers

  10. Karl David Baxter says:

    Question 7: What benefit did the council, it’s deciding officers or indeed Joe Anderson believe the people of the city of Liverpool would receive from this expenditure and did they believe it would be greater than any personal benefit Joe Anderson would receive.

  11. Marvin says:

    There are a huge number of really great people in Liverpool who will stand by their ideals and question those who fail to reach the levels of society required. Unfortunately, none of those appear to be employed in the Council.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s