Archive | January, 2010

A summary of the story

21 Jan

So what’s this all about? Lib Dem HQ and the South West Regional Lib Dems suspended the Plymouth Party branch.

The shut down and follow up debates were reported in the local papers:  The Plymouth Herald and Western Morning News. They cited the reasons as infighting among the executive  and resignations of two chairs and the suspension of executive members.

The first Chairman to resign was Steve Barton a respected former policeman. He resigned last summer in protest at Plymouth Lib Dem Parliamentary Candidate Dr Judy Evans’ misuse of EARS (Election Agents Record System) software and data. EARS is the Liberal Democrat election software that includes all the sensitive data of the population of Plymouth, names addresses, dates of birth and voting history. He also alleged that there was a sum of money missing from the party accounts during the period that Karen Gillard and her girlfriend Deborah Earl were signatories on the accounts in 2007 & 2008.

The second Chairman to resign was David Jolly, a veteran Liberal Democrat who works with children in the courts. He resigned after an email sent to him by the controversial David Allworthy at Lib Dem HQ who had been involved in  the Coun Khan case saying he would not investigate any problems in the Plymouth party, despite the evidence that he held.

A new executive was elected in November 2009, Dominic House age 19 of Plymouth City College Youth Officer, Max Harding, 20 as Data Officer, Tom Sale 21 as Membership Development Officer, and Mr Jan Mortier as Vice chair of the executive committee.

The AGM that elected them discussed the missing party accounts for two years (2007 and 2008). The Vice chair suggested these accounts be independently audited, and had his membership suspended within five days by the regional Lib Dem party after a complaint by Karen Gillard who was a tresurer of the Plymouth paty in 2007. The Data Officer, Max Harding, on taking office in 2010 tried to get the local party to comply with Data Protection law by requesting that Karen Gillard and Judy Evans return the Electoral Roll disks to him, and he was threatened with suspension and disciplinary action.

The new Membership Officer raised concerns about the party’s accounts and whether a former treasurer who did not submit those accounts should be allowed on the executive, he too was threatened with suspension of membership by the regional party secretary.

Several executive  members went to the police after the threats and raised concerns about the party being in breach of Data Protection law and laws governing political parties accounts. The regional party officers response was to suspend everyone and shut the party down. A party spokesman in London said: “The financial issues have been the subject of a formal investigation by the regional party and the Electoral Commission, which both said there were no substantive issues.” However in a letter received from the Electoral Comission on 25th of January, the Electoral Commission states that missing sums of money were not brought to its attention and not part of its investigation which focused only on financial management issues.