During his period of office, because he had dared criticise the piss-poor performance of council officials, he was put before the Standards Board of England by Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd.
Following a two year investigation by the Standards Board and an extremely biased report by Standards Board official Jennifer Rogers, who was very selective in her use of evidence and omitted any evidence that did not support her biased conclusions, the case was put before the Adjudication Panel for England. A hearing took place before the Tribunal at the Bush Hotel in Farnham over two days, 10-11 July 2007.
The charges laid against Peter Sandy, were that when a councilor he had
- brought his office into disrepute
- brought the council into disrepute
In particular, treated officers with disrespect.
Peter Sandy resigned as a councillor in May 2007 as he found his position was made untenable by bloody minded obstruction from council officers.
Ever since becoming a councillor, Peter Sandy had met nothing but obstruction from Rushmoor head of housing Alison Whiteley. The Tribunal heard that the problems with Whiteley long predated his time as a councillor.
As a disabled person, Peter Sandy had a shower facility installed at his home. The County Council established the need, Rushmoor provided the grant aid. Alison Whitely was the case officer. What should have taken a few months, dragged on for ten years.
The Tribunal heard that the Council had falsified the paperwork. This was uncovered in the Faquar Report.
The Tribunal heard that Peter Sandy was a hard-working, diligent councillor, who went our of his way to help local residents, something that can be said of few Rushmoor councillors. That he was always seen out and about in his ward.
The Tribunal heard of the bloody-minded obstruction that Peter Sandy received, especially from Alison Whiteley and officials in her dysfunctional department, that made it nigh impossible to carry out his functions as a councillor. That requests for information, paperwork were obstructed. That requests to attend meetings or to speak at meetings were obstructed.
The Tribunal heard how when Peter Sandy was elected, the chief executive Andrew Lloyd made it known that he was trouble who should be made to tow the line or be removed.
The Tribunal heard that Lloyd visited the home of Peter Sandy and issued threats in a crude attempt to force him to tow the line.
The Tribunal heard that other councillors had no difficulty obtaining paperwork, indeed on more than one occasion, another councillor obtained information with no difficulty, information that was denied to Peter Sandy.
Alison Whiteley came across as a less than credible witness, and under cross-examination, it was shown she had repeatedly lied. Her testimony was at odd with previous witness,a nd under cross-examination she contradicted herself. The one clear pattern to emerge in her evidence was that she was blameless (in her own eyes) and if there was blame to be apportioned, it was to be laid at the door of other people.
Whiteley in her earlier testimony and statements to the Standards Board, claimed she had been caused stress by a radio programme. A radio programme she had never heard. Someone heard it, who passed it on to someone else etc etc until Whiteley was told. A game of Chinese whispers. Whiteley claimed there were calls for her to be fired. There may well have been just cause for her to be fired, but was not made in the radio programme.
An edited extract of the programme was played. All fairly innocuous, it was difficult to comprehend what was causing her stress. She was named as head of housing, responsible for housing problems. No shrinking violet when it comes to self-publicity, she is always in the local press promoting what a wonderful job she was doing. There was no call in the broadcast for her to be fired.
It was common knowledge that Pavilion, a local housing association was in difficulty, yet it came as a great surprise to Whiteley when the Audit Commission published a damning report.
Whiteley saw no reason to consult tenants when she made a recommendation to the housing Corporation that Eastleigh-based Atlantic take over Pavilion.
Whiteley claimed to have no knowledge of falsification of documents related to Peter Sandy's disability facilities. She was then forced to admit she was aware of the Faquar Report, no only aware but was aware of its contents, a report that was commissioned to look into the falsified documents.
She claimed she had done everything possible, 'gone the extra mile', to help Mr C who is still living in appalling housing conditions.
She claimed the council had not dealt with Mr C for 'some time', 'quite a while', when pushed, she said 'many months'. When told he had a meeting with her housing officials last month, she then changed her tune.
She claimed the council would not talk with anyone about Mr C's case unless written authorisation was first presented. Mr C's current advocate has no such written authorisation, but the council is quite willing to deal with him. A signed statement from Mr C's current advocate was produced to that affect.
She claimed she had gone out of her way to help Peter Sandy when he was a councillor. She could not see this statement was at odds with her refusal to supply him with requested papers, other than to tell him to go to the council office, a round trip of at least half a day.
And so it went on, a witness whose story was not only in conflict with what she had said a few minutes earlier, but was also in conflict with all the previous witnesses.
There was probably more than sufficient grounds for a charge of perjury to be brought.
The Tribunal learnt that Whiteley recorded conversation she had with Peter Sandy, but no other councillor had their conversations recorded.
For whatever reason, Peter Sandy received different treatment to other councillors.
Of the nine allegations made against Peter Sandy, he was cleared of seven. Of the two of which he was found guilty,these need to be seen in context to understand why.
Peter Sandy was charged with treating council officials with disrespect.
Allegations were made by local residents against Alison Whiteley which bordered on corruption, and certainly corrupt use of office. Peter Sandy made the mistake of leveling an accusation, rather than referring to as an 'allegation'. Once he realised his mistake, he did refer to it as an allegation, but the damage had already been done.
It does though beg the question as to why Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd did not do as asked and instigate an independent investigation? He chose instead to hang his head of housing out to dry, such was his eagerness to use this as an opportunity to rid himself of a troublesome councillor. Whiteley meanwhile has a cloud of suspicion hanging over her.
Mr C, whose case was discussed, was adamant that a Councillor T was not acting for him. When housing official Paul Juan said he was and used it as an excuse to communicate confidential information to Councilor T, Peter Sandy called Paul Juan a liar. Had it been expressed differently he would not have been found guilty on this point.
In summing up and passing sentence, the President of the Tribunal made much of the fact that Peter Sandy had been a hard working councillor, who took on cases from other wards as well as his own, that he had been obstructed by officials and not received the support that a councillor could reasonably expect from officials. He said that was Peter Sandy still a councillor, he could have been barred for six months from office, but as he was no longer a councillor, he was barred for three months from the date of the hearing from standing as a councillor.
The look on the faces of Borough Solicitor Karen Limmer and head of housing Alison Whiteley when they heard the verdict and left the hearing said it all, it was not what they were expecting. They had sat grim faced throughout the hearing which indicated it was not going their way, or at least not as they had expected.
The entire matter was a storm in a the cup. An enormous waste of public money.
Alison Whiteley left with her professional reputation in tatters. Assuming the borough solicitor had not advised against taking action against Peter Sandy, then her advice is called into question. Andrew Lloyd as chief executive was seen as weak and ineffective, abusing his office to try and rid himself of a councillor he saw as troublesome. That he issued a statement to say Whiteley was fully vindicated shows he must hold her in scant regard. To then go on to claim that she is held in high regard has to be seen as a sick joke.
The behaviour of Borough Solicitor Karen Limmer begs a number of questions. Asked of her presence, it was said she was attending as a member of the public. But, she repeatedly rose and went over to brief the lawyer acting for the Standards Board. She was also seen to scribble notes, then go out and speak with one of the witnesses. If witness contamination was taking place, then it has to be teated very seriously, and for a practicing lawyer, it would be seen as very serious professional misconduct.
Peter Sandy that evening did a tour of the local area, doing what he is best at, helping local residents. In three months time he is free to stand for election to the Council.
A crude attempt by Rushmoor chief executive to intimidate and eliminate a troublesome councillor has badly backfired. Not for nothing is it known locally as the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.
The council has spent a large amount of public money, for what, to get egg on its collective face.
The entire affair was a storm in a teacup. Andrew Lloyd, as chief executive, should, once he realised there were problems, arranged an alternative point of contact for Peter Sandy, should have attempted to resolve problems locally. But he did not, instead he could not get a complaint in soon enough to the Standards Board.
Lloyd came across as a weak and ineffective leader. As it was he who had filed the complaint, the Tribunal was asked that he appear as a witness to be cross-examined. He did not appear, but was quoted later as saying he was willing to appear.
True to form, the juvenile scribbler dispatched by the Aldershot News got very little correct. But then what is to be expected of a local paper that is little more than a PR arm of the local council. He failed to even get the basic premise of the case correct. Even for the abysmal journalistic standards of the Aldershot News, this was to sink to a new low.
Last year, Peter Sandy was cleared of allegation made by the Police to the the Standards Board, allegations that were found to not have a shred of evidence to support them.
Double Standards are in operation by the Standards Board. Three Rushmoor councillors – Charlie Fraser Fleming, Sue Dibble, Roger Kimber – were found guilty by the Standards Board of improperly influencing a planing decision (they served at the time on the board of a housing association that was part of the proposed development), as a consequence the planning consent was quashed. Although all three were found guilty of a serious offence, no further action was taken.
A big question mark hangs over the Standards Board. It appears to be out of control, a law unto itself. It is not for the standards Board to rid councils of troublesome councils. Their role is to root out corruption and maladministration.
Marcus Mabberley, Ex-councillor guilty of misconduct is banned, Aldershot News, 13 July 2007
Cliff Mogg, 'I want cops to say sorry' – Maverick councillor is cleared of any wrongdoing, Surrey-Hants Star, 23 November 2006
Keith Parkins, Audit Commission savage Pavilion Housing Association, Indymedia UK, 27 July 2004
Keith Parkins, Rushmoor councillors guilty!, Indymedia UK, 8 November 2005
Keith Parkins, Peter Sandy cleared by Standards Board, Indymedia UK, 23 January 2006
Keith Parkins, Peter Sandy cleared of police allegations, Indymedia UK, 27 November 2006
Rushmoor’s independent resigns, Aldershot News, 18 May 2007
Sandy hits back at critics after shock decision to quit council, Aldershot News, 25 May 2007