John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Saturday, February 04, 2006
  Consultancy Fees and Malicious Falsehood
Something like 18 months after Labour ex-Councillor Tony Kennedy pushed Jim Pendleton into a wall at the Prince of Wales pub in Moseley the Judge has now produced a judgement in the "Malicious Falsehood" case brought against Lib Dem Councillor Martin Mullaney for sending an email saying "Tony Kennedy is going to be Arrested."

As a sort of Small Claims version of Libel none of the outcome is particularly surprising. In this instance Martin gets costs of £60 rather than the £6000 or so he should be due for the amount of work done. Jim Pendleton also gets £50 for loss of earnings.

The case has had its surreal moments like when the Chief Executive of the Pub Chain was suppoenaed to stand as a witness - as if he was there on the night.

A key part of today's press report which has more impact than a row in a pub is the following:
[Mr Kennedy] maintained ... attempts to set up as new business as an independent consultant to developers suffered.
Mr Kennedy said a number of clients backed out of contracts because they feared he would not be able to lobby the planning committee effectively given Coun Mullaney's senior position on it.
He also alleged he began to receive calls from people asking him "to help out in a fight".
Birmingham Post 4th Feb.

What this means is that he was expecting to get "consultancy fees" from developers wanting planning permission, but when Labour lost control of the planning committee they said they would no longer pay him.

Now planning is supposed to be a "quasi judicial" process where there is no party whip and decisions are made on the merits of the case.

Why then would it matter which party controls the planning committee?

I don't think this particular aspect of the case is finished yet.
 
Comments:
What this means is that he was expecting to get "consultancy fees" from developers wanting planning permission, but when Labour lost control of the planning committee they said they would no longer pay him.

Alternatively ...

What this mean is that he was expecting to get "consultancy fees" from developers wanting planning permission, but when the vice-chair of the planning committee apparently bore some kind a grudge against him, they said they would no longer pay him.

I know nothing about this case beyond what's been reported in the papers or in Martin's press releases. The only thing I am pretty sure of is that no-one is giving an uncoloured picture.
 
Consultancy fees are fees for advice. There is no reason why anyone would know when he had been offering advice.

Fees for lobbying are an entirely different matter.
 
Consultancy fees are fees for consultancy, surely, which covers pretty much anything and everything.

Actually, I think providing consultancy services to developers sounds suspicious enough without needing any kind of extra innuendo. Now, if it were possibly to employ someone to make life a bit harder for developers ... well, I could probably get behind that :)
 
Giving advice is one thing, lobbying is another.
 
Of course, it is. What I'm saying is that pretty much any activity can end up on an invoice as "consulting services".

Nuancing on precisely what Tony Kennedy meant by "consultancy fees", when his evidence was seems to have been pretty thoroughly trashed by the judge, to imply potential malpractice seems a bit of a stretch.

If there was or is corruption in the council, then I want to know about it. However, rumour and hint and nudge-nudging serves only to feed cynicism of public office. I don't want that; people should be, and should want to be, engaged with government at all levels. As someone who has devoted a great deal of time and effort in elected office, I'd assume you don't want that either.
 
The essence is that advice would be OK, but then it would not matter who is in control of the authority.

Paid lobbying is not OK for Planning as no lobbying should work for planning because it is quasi judicial.
 
Ah, ok, I understand the point you're making now.
 
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