At the time “Jessica”‘s story broke, I expected people in Peterborough who knew the gregarious and popular Cllr Andy Coles to experience shock and there has been a little of that. That is why I wrote about the sensation of falling which is how the shock of the allegations first affected me.
I have been too busy out and about campaigning to write much about this story but while I’ve been busy a great deal has happened. This post is an update and a pulling together of threads.
The council can’t do anything
Firstly in response to a number of points and questions I communicated to the council’s leader and chief executive officer, the council has explained its position with respect to removing an elected representative:
“The legal position is that all democratically elected councillors, are entitled as of right to attend all meetings of full council. There is no power for officers or members to remove that right.”
So while “Jessica” believes that Coles should resign as a city councillor (and I wholeheartedly support her call) I don’t think that anybody can force that to happen. If Coles continues not to resign, it seems that he can’t be pushed.
His party won’t do anything
I believe that a decent political party would have suspended Coles already, pending clarification of his situation. However his party is the Conservative Party which is in power and which has been close to being in power for a century. It is an integral part of the establishment which has used the police to target over 1,000 organisations, including my own political party, my party’s only MP and my party’s only member of the House of Lords. This is why I personally have no expectations that the Conservative Party will even worry about behaving decently: that simply isn’t what the party or the British establishment is about. They are about power full stop. If they did suspend or expel him I would expect him to opt to remain in post as an independent councillor. This may be more of a worry to them than his remaining in post. The horrible question which then arises is where are the other 120 ex spy cops and how do their current networks, contacts, employments or appointments help to protect their secrets and abuses or those of others and to what extent and how might such arrangements be tolerated or even organised? Let’s not underestimate the usefulness of professional, political and cultural networks. Cllr Coles is one of the best connected people in Peterborough.
Three investigations are underway: none of which stop him talking
Back to fast moving present reality. There are now three investigations or cases ongoing. As far as I am aware none of these require Coles to maintain silence on the allegations: his silence is entirely a matter of personal choice, not of contractual or legal obligation. I am as ever happy to be corrected.
There have been rumours on social media of an out of court settlement. This gossip is not true.
2 “Jessica” has been admitted as a core participant into the Undercover Policing Inquiry (UCPI)
3 The Cambridgeshire Police & Crime Panel will consider the referral back from the IPCC
The Independent Police and Complaints Commission (IPCC soon to be IOPC) responded to a FOI request in the following terms:
which at first glance looks as if the IPCC is not investigating and did not investigate. But if you check what the IPCC does and how it does it, it is perfectly possible that this interpretation is not quite correct. IPCC can supervise local investigations without actually doing them. This statement does not eliminate the possibility that it could be involved in supervising a Cambridgeshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (Cambridgeshire OPCC or here just OPCC) investigation which hasn’t started yet. As for regulations, here is something which may or may not help in understanding what they are and what will or won’t happen next.
In order to understand what has or hasn’t happened here, it would be necessary to see both referrals and to form a judgement about their sufficiency or otherwise. It would also be necessary to understand whether these referrals relate only to Coles’ behaviour while he was applying for or occupying the post of Cambridgeshire Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner (as I strongly suspect is the case).
Meanwhile the local paper indicates that the Cambridgeshire OPCC has delegated the investigation to the Cambridgeshire Police & Crime Panel. This body meets next on 6th September. The agenda for that meeting is not yet online, but it should be available on the 1st at the latest.
We really do need to know what Coles’ motives were in going for the role of Deputy PCC and we need to know everything about who knew the whats and the whys about that appointment.