A great tactic for the Left in seeking to defeat a policy they don't like is through vexatious complaints. If they can't get their way through the ballot box they can seek a Judicial Review (fronted by a welfare claimant so it can be funded on Legal Aid) or make an array of complaints to official bodies. No matter how spurious such claims may be, or how expensive they are for the taxpayer, there is no downside for those making them. Even if they lose: They still cause delay. There is the propaganda value when the complaint is made (its subsequent dismissal is generally regarded as less newsworthy.)
An example today comes with the rejection by the Independent Police Complaints Commission of a complaint made against the the Deputy Mayor of London, Stephen Greenhalgh which related to Mr Greenhalgh’s conduct while leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
It concerns the redevelopment of the West Ken and Gibbs Green estates and a baseless claim that residents who supported the redevelopment would be give preferential treatment in the allocation of future housing.
The complaint was made by Jonathan Rosenberg, a Paddington resident and old henchman of Ken Livingstone, that Mr Greenhalgh sanctioned "improper inducements" – that would be misconduct in public office which is a criminal offence.
After four months of extensive investigations, interviews with residents, etc the IPCC found an "absence of any evidence which would indicate that Mr Greenhalgh may have committed a criminal offence."
There was a list of residents on the estate who had registered their wish to be moved as soon as possible to replacement homes in Seagrave Road. But it is nonsense to suggests they would gain any preference based on their support for the redevelopment. Indeed a investigation of the consultation responses submitted of 33 out of those 38 residents it was found that only 25 were recorded as “supporting” the proposals. Rather undermining any suggestion of being offered preference as some inducement to back the scheme.
Mr Rosenberg claimed that Mr Greenhalgh had behaved improperly when visiting one resident. However when the IPCC spoke to the resident concerned he said Mr Greenhalgh was “very diplomatic." The resident added he had not felt pressureisd from Mr Greenhalgh but that he had from Mr Rosenberg.
It was on the basis of this complaint to the IPCC – whose budget is £32 million a year – that the Shadow Justice Minister and Labour MP for Hammersmith Andrew Slaughter demanded that Mr Greenhalgh should be suspended.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime:
"The IPCC has finally concluded that there is no basis to these defamatory allegations which were entirely politically motivated. I am extremely proud of my record as Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader and I remain focused on serving London in my important role as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime."
Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, says:
"I am pleased, but not surprised, that Stephen Greenhalgh has been completely exonerated by the IPCC. From the beginning, I was convinced that this was a malicious complaint, submitted by politically motivated Leftists, many from outside the Borough, and I am delighted that Stephen can now carry on his important work as Boris's Deputy Mayor, which is bringing great benefit to my constituents and to the whole of London."
Cllr Nick Botterill, the Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council says:
"Stephen Greenhalgh was both an inspirational and transformational
council leader and the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham have much
to thank him for. The IPCC has concluded that the allegations against
him, which were wholly politically motivated, had absolutely no merit or
It is important part of our open society for genuine complaints to be investigated. But some accountability is needed against these malicious complaints. Wasting police time is an offence. Making bogus complaints amounts to the same thing. How much of the IPCC's £32 million budget is devoted to them? How many beat police officers could that fund? How much police time is diverted from crime fighting to deal with ridiculous complaints?
Peter Walker has written about how the police could handle this better but the procedure also needs to change.
At least Mr Greenhalgh has now been vindicated and, in this of all weeks, can focus of making Londoners safer – withouot such irresponsible and unpleasant distractions.