Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Bertha Joseph loses her appeal against suspension

A Conservative member of Boris Johnson's fire authority today lost her appeal against a six month suspension from her council.

Bertha Joseph, who was once praised by Caroline Spelman for her "total integrity, honesty and courage" was suspended from Brent Council for six months last October.

The Council imposed the heaviest possible sanction after she was found to have used charitable donations to pay for ball gowns.

These sanctions were imposed following findings that Councillor Joseph failed to register within 28 days receipt of two gifts of cash amounting to £900, brought her office into disrepute by seeking and obtaining the cash for ‘sponsorship' of the Mayor's Ball which she used to buy clothes, and used her position as Mayor to gain an advantage for herself by obtaining the cash (for ‘sponsorship' in the context of the Mayor's Ball) which she used to buy items that were of personal benefit to her.

Despite this, Boris Johnson allowed her to continue working on the Fire Authority and even allowed for her to be promoted to the position of Deputy Chairman.

All members of LFEPA are appointed by the Mayor on a proportional basis.

Bertha Joseph holds the following positions on the fire authority:

  • Deputy Chairman, (Ceremonial events and activities associated with Community Outreach)
  • Vice-Chairman, Audit Committee
  • Member, Finance, Procurement and Property Committee

Given his commitment to "cleaning up" London government, does the Mayor really believe that Bertha Joseph should continue in these roles?

-Update- Labour Vice Chair of LFEPA Navin Shah said:

"Now that the Tribunal has dismissed her appeal it is time For Cllr Bertha Joseph to show some decency and resign from LFEPA. If Cllr Joseph refuses to shift voluntarily I urge Conservative Leadership to sack her instantly.

One person who can act swiftly is the Mayor of London. The Mayor has statutory powers to remove a member if the member is found unfit for the position she/he is appointed for. The Tribunal has now confirmed, beyond any doubt, the validity of severe verdict granted against Cllr Joseph by the Standards Committee of Brent. This is a strong enough evidence for the Mayor to exercise his powers and demonstrate that he is not prepared to prop-up anyone who fails to uphold the highest standard of conduct expected of elected members.

So far Boris Johnson the Mayor of London, Cllr Bob Blackman and Cllr Brian Coleman’s record has been lamentable on this matter. Cllr Coleman Chair of LFEPA and his Tory colleagues have not only supported the disgraceful conduct of their member, but they’ve rewarded Cllr Joseph by handing out additional £12,000 a year from public purse and elevating her to the position of a Deputy Chair of the Fire Authority. At a time when public confidence in politicians is at an all time low, is this what public should expect from Conservatives? If London’s Mayor wants to maintain a shred of his already damaged anti-cronyism image, he knows Cllr Joseph has to go and he must act now."


Political Animal said...

Gone from Brent with immediate effect until the end of her term in May I see: http://www.brent.gov.uk/home.nsf/news/LBB-1048 (she's done well to spin it out, as she'll only lose three months worth of allowances rather than six). Wonder if she's planning to stand again? If she tries as a Tory candidate in Kensal Green she is going to be walloped (Tories in third, 1000 votes behind Labour in 2006).

Given the proportionality rule, there's a reasonable chance that Boris is going to very quickly lose his majority on LFEPA again, assuming my thesis - and that of quite a few others - that Labour might actually do quite well overall in the London local elections thanks to general election level turnouts comes true.

AdamB said...

That is certainly the working assumption amongst Labour people that I have spoken to. You have to keep in mind as well that Boris's majority is dependent on Betty Evans Jacas who defected from Labour last year. She's likely to lose her seat as well.

Either way, the Tories would need a huge increase in their share of the vote in order to keep a majority on LFEPA.

Anonymous said...

The donations were just the tip of the iceberg. Brent Council are well shot of our Bertha!

DavidM said...


I think I've had two pieces of Conservative Party literature pushed through my door here in Kensal Green since August with her face on. So, flying in the face of all common sense, I would have said that she's looking to give standing a go nonetheless.

AdamB said...

Is she standing in the same ward?

Tom said...

Have to say that on telling the missue about this (who's usually bored shitless about politics and thus a good example of Joe Public) she was appalled, far more than things like rises in bus fares (which she thinks sucks, but hey, I'll drive instead).

AdamB said...

It should be a bigger story really, but Fire Authority stories usually get missed.

Brian Coleman aka Mr Toad has GOT to go said...

Adam - thank you for making sure I didn't miss this myself.

Your blog is excellent of late.

AdamB said...

No problem. You're very kind.

DavidM said...

Is she standing in the same ward?

I don't know for sure. Thankfully I am not au fait with the inner workings of the Brent Conservative Party. The literature I had through the door was of the nature of what a fantastic job she was supposed to be doing.