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4.12.10 Annual Audit Letter - Accounts Not Able To Be Signed Off

A report to the councils Audit and Corporate Governance committee titled Audit Commission - Annual Audit Letter from the councils Director of Finance dated 2 Dec 2010, states:
  • The absence of "Related Party Transactions" (RPT) of former members of the council who where not returned to the council at the May 2010 council. A RPT is a business deal between two parties who have a special relationship prior to the deal, such as a business transaction between a major shareholder and the corporation*. Ref* HERE.
  • The external Auditor (The Audit Commission) is not able to issue a Audit Certificate due to unresolved objections from local electors to the councils 2009-10 accounts.
  • The councils previous external Auditors Deloitte have not been able to issue Audit Certificates for previous years Audit work.
The Audit Commission (who have a special relationship with Camden Council?) has been the councils chosen external auditor for the 2008/9 and 2009/10 financial years.

The Audit Commission stated in an earlier report that they haven't as yet 'processed' objections from local electors to the council 2009/10 accounts. And according to the director of finance report (above linked) states the cost of objections to the councils 2008/9 and 2009/10 as zero. Does this mean that objections haven't been investigated?

This makes me wonder whether or not the Audit Commission can state as a matter of fact that there is no material impact on the councils accounts from these objections?

The Annual Letter from the Audit Commission HERE.

8.11.10 Update on Court Hearing over Death of Toddler

http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2010/nov/camden-council-court-over-saurav-ghai-wall-collapse-tragedy-gospel-oak

Published: 4th November, 2010
by RICHARD OSLEY

CAMDEN Council have appeared in court to face a health and safety charge relating to a wall which collapsed, crushing a two-year-old boy.

Saurav Ghai was killed under the bricks of the perimeter wall of the council-owned Wendling estate in Southampton Road, Gospel Oak during windy weather in January 2007.

James Ageros, appearing for the Health and Safety Executive, told Southwark Crown Court on Friday the wall was so weak that it could be knocked down by a “hefty push from an average-sized person”.

He said: “The council had no basis for the assumption that the wall was safe.”

The council, in defence, said it had hired chartered building surveyors to look at the wall but defects had not been uncovered in the run-up to the tragedy. No immediate risk was flagged up to council managers in a stock condition survey.

Dominic Kay, for the council, told the court, said: “It was looked at every five years by chartered building surveyors.”

He said that Camden had reviewed the level of supervision of walkabout checks on its estates for damage and tripping hazards, but the defence is at odds with the prosecution over the broader points of the case.

Mr Kay said the council did not accept the wall was a “conspicuous danger.”

Camden is facing one charge under the Health and Safety Act. No plea was entered during the 15-minute hearing and the case is unlikely to be heard in full until early next year.

Nearly four years after ­little Saurav’s death, his parents sat in court again listening to the details of the tragedy. They have already heard details at a coroner’s inquest of how the wall was not “tied” properly and was effectively a free-standing panel. The inquest heard a firm of subcontractors who had completed repair work on it in the past could not be traced to appear before the coroner.

Saurav had been collec­ted by his childminder from nursery and was on his way back to the family home in Belsize Park when the bricks collapsed.

He was later pronounced dead at the Royal Free Hospital.

His parents, Vinay and Desiree Ghai, later donated £10,000 to the hospital to thank staff for trying to save their son’s life.

A council spokeswoman said: “There is to be a further hearing in January when various technical issues relating to the charge will be further considered.

“Our deepest sympathy remains with Saurav’s fam­ily, and we offer our condolences to all those affected.”


27.9.10 LGO 2009/10 Annual Complaints Report

Local Government Ombudsman 2009/10 Annual Complaints Report HERE

26.5.10 The Civil Service

Extracts taken from www.civilservice.gov.uk

The UK Civil Service

  • The Civil Service helps the Government of the day to develop and deliver its policies as effectively as possible.

  • Civil servants are politically impartial.

  • Before the Civil Service was reformed in the 1850s, Departments of State recruited their staff mainly through political or aristocratic patronage rather than by merit, had a poor reputation and no unity of purpose. In the 1850s, looking back on the way things had been done, one senior Government official commented that:

"I have known many instances of individuals boldly stating that they were not put into the service by their patrons to work…. The most feeble sons in families which have been so fortunate as to obtain an appointment, yes and others too, either mentally or physically incapacitated, enter the Service." Civil Service Papers published by the British Government, 1855



Origins of the modern civil service: the 1850's

The Northcote-Trevelyan Report

Sir Stafford Northcote first served in the Civil Service at the Board of Trade and then as Private Secretary to Gladstone. Later he became a Conservative MP, serving Disraeli as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Foreign Secretary.

His biggest impact on the Civil Service came in 1853 when he and Treasury Permanent Secretary, Charles Trevelyan, were commissioned by Gladstone to look into the operation and organisation of the entire Civil Service. They made four recommendations:

  1. Recruitment should be entirely on the basis of merit by open, competitive examinations

  2. Entrants should have a good ‘generalist’ education and should be recruited to a unified Civil Service and not a specific department, to allow inter-departmental transfers.

  3. Recruits should be placed into a hierarchical structure of classes and grades

  4. Promotion would be on the basis of merit not on the grounds of ‘preferment, patronage or purchase’.

1870s to 1900 :Consolidating The New System

Initial reaction to the Northcote-Trevelyan report was hostile and even Queen Victoria declared herself ‘horrified’ that the running of the country might be handed to ‘professional bureaucrats’.

The independent Civil Service Commissioners were established in 1855, but it wasn’t until 1870 that the main recommendations of the report were put in place and that success in a competitive examination became the primary means of entry to the Service.

The 1870s also saw civil servants organised into different divisions and classes, according to the nature of the work they did. The Lower Division was made up of centrally recruited clerks who would be able to serve in any department.

Entrance to some parts of the Civil Service by examination continued right up until 1980s, when departments assumed responsibility for recruitment themselves.

The principles of fair and open competition and appointment on merit remain the cornerstone of Civil Service recruitment.

1920s – 1930s The Increasing Role of Women

Evelyn Sharp was the first female Permanent Secretary.

She started her career in 1926 at the Board of Trade as an Administrative Trainee (a Fast Stream grade), joining what was undoubtedly a male dominated environment. Many women worked in junior levels of the Civil Service, but as in many other organisations of the day, women earned less than men and until 1947, they were expected to resign if they married.

Women in the civil service did not receive equal pay with men until the 1950s, but an exception was made for Evelyn Sharp when she became a deputy secretary in the Ministry of Town and Local Government: she received equal pay ten years before other women in the civil service. Evelyn became the ministry's permanent secretary in October 1955.

Evelyn is acknowledged as one of the most outstanding and formidable Civil Servants of her day.

1960s: Fulton picks up the Northcote-Trevelyan mantle

By the 1960s the Civil Service was a large organisation with many responsibilities, but underneath it was still influenced by a nineteenth century ethos. Many people felt it was still based too much on the philosophy of the amateur and there was a lack of skilled managers.

In the mid-60s, Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, concerned about the lack of professionalism within the Civil Service, asked a committee chaired by John Fulton, then the Vice-Chancellor of Sussex University, to make recommendations for reform.

The Fulton committee found that the Civil Service of the time was often rigid and inefficient and it recommended:

  • the creation of a Civil Service Department to run the Civil Service;

  • its head to be designated Head of the Civil Service;

  • the abolition of all Classes and replacement by a unified grading structure for all;

  • the creation of a Civil Service College.

The 1990s and Next Steps

The 1990s saw a number of changes to the structure and workings of the Civil Service as part of the ‘Next Steps’ process, where much of the executive work of Government was devolved to agencies focused on operational delivery.

By 1996, 125 government agencies had been established, from very large organisations like the Benefits Agency with over 60,000 staff through to the Government Car and Despatch Agency with fewer than 200.

These changes slowly led to a break-up of the old unified Civil Service. This process was hastened after 1994 when departments were increasingly given delegated authority over pay, grading and recruitment and more and more commonly, departments introduced performance-related pay. The principles of Northcote-Trevelyan were not forgotten though: open competition for posts and promotions became the norm and the recruitment of external candidates was strongly encouraged, particularly to fill senior vacancies.

The Civil Service in the present day

In the space of 150 years the Civil Service has undergone a revolution in the way it operates, but the public service ethos and the values of impartiality embodied by Northcote and Trevelyan are fundamental to the everything that we do.

The Civil Service Values of honesty, integrity, impartiality and objectivity are at the heart of what it means to be a civil servant.

9.5.10 Labour win May 2010 Election

www.hamhigh.co.uk

People of Camden will point way forward, says triumphant Labour leader

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk
07 May 2010

LABOUR has romped home to a massive victory in Camden winning back the overall majority they historically lost in 2006.

They have won a huge number of wards back from the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives and the Greens including Kentish Town, Gospel Oak, Kilburn and two seats in Highgate.

The Tories secured two seats in Belsize but lost control of Gospel Oak and despite a hard fought campaign did not win any seats in West Hampstead or Fortune Green from the Lib Dems.

Leader of the group Cllr Nash Ali said: "I am really excited. We are all over the moon - it is all about people power.

"The people came out and voted for us and all our candidates have worked so hard. They have spoken to thousands of people and they have voted for us.

"We want to make sure the way forward is what the people want in terms of policies. We are going to stop the housing sell-off and continue with the decent homes programme as well as prioritise schools funding.

"We will follow our manifesto. I am really looking forward to being leader it is very exciting. We expected a victory but not one as decisive as this."

The Liberal Democrats suffered a hard defeat, struggling with the general and local elections on the same day.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group Cllr Keith Moffitt, who held onto his seat in West Hampstead, said: "There are ups and downs in politics.

"The Lib Dems in Camden have had a long upward trajectory. Hopefully this is a temporary setback but it has been very tough having the general and local elections on the same day.

"We have still got 10 councillors which is great and if we win Haverstock we will be the official opposition.

7.4.10 Camden Mayor Asked to Resign

www.camdengazette.co.uk

Fresh pleas for Mayor to resign
nlnews@archant.co.uk
07 April 2010
THE deputy leader of Camden Council has added to calls for Camden's Mayor to resign in the face of benefit fraud charges.

Councillor Andrew Marshall, leader of the Conservative group and deputy leader of the Liberal Democrat-Conservative run council, said the situation was an "embarrassment".

Mayor of Camden Omar Faruque Ansari, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Kentish Town ward, has been charged by the Department for Work and Pensions with two counts of dishonestly failing to notify a change in his care and mobility needs in 2006, and one count of deception between June 2006 and January 2010.

The Mayor is technically the borough's returning officer for the Parliamentary and council elections on May 6 - responsible for everything from supervising the count to ruling on spoilt ballot papers.

Councillor Marshall said: "I urge Councillor Ansari for one last time to resign in the interests of the borough. Similarly, I urge Camden's Liberal Democrats to try one last time to persuade their Lib-Dem colleague to resign."

Councillor Ansari has refused to give up his position - and has protested his innocence, saying he is entitled to disability benefit because of neck injuries sustained in the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

Councillor Keith Moffitt, leader of the council and the Lib-Dem group, said: "We have already asked him on several occasions to resign. He also remains suspended from our group." He said Councillor Ansari had not been returning his calls.

As returning officer, his only task would have been to ceremonially read out the results.

Councillor Ansari is not standing for re-election on May 6 and will cease to be mayor on May 22. He is due to appear at City of Westminster Magi-strates' Court on April 16.

24.3.10 Local Government Pensions

Camden Council Audit and Corporate Governance (Pensions) sub committee

Pension fund cash flow 2009
Employers contribution £30.078m
Employees contribution £7. 379m

Pension Fund Investment Portfolio market value £820m at 31 Dec 2009.

Stocks (commodities), bonds (loans), cash and property.

24.2.10 Camden Council Stand Trial Over Toddler Death

Follow on from Council charged with death HERE

http://www.camdengazette.co.uk/

Council to face trial over boy's wall death
nlnews@archant.co.uk
24 February 2010

CAMDEN Council pleaded not guilty when it appeared in court over the death of a two-year-old boy crushed to death by a wall.

Saurav Ghai died after a 6ft 6ins brick panel fell on him in Southampton Road, Gospel Oak, on January 18, 2007.

An inquest held at St Pancras Coroner's Court in November 2007 raised issues about the way the panel was attached to the rest of the wall. Camden Council appeared at City of London Magistrates' Court charged with breaching section 33.1 (a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The charge alleges that the council failed to "conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, insofar as was reasonably practical, that persons not in its employment - including Saurav Ghai - who might be affected, were not exposed to risks". Camden Council will now face a trial and is due to appear at Southwark Crown Court on March 30.

A council spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that Camden has pleaded not guilty to a charge being pursued by the Health and Safety Executive. Our deepest sympathy remains with Saurav's family. Safety of our residents is a top priority.
-----------------------------------

Camden council has been charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 as opposed to the
Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homocide Act 2007 as the tragic death occurred before this Act came into being.

Section 37 of the 1974 Act says that an individual director, manager etc shall be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly as well as the corporate body.

UPDATE
Some mystery as to who exactly has been charged and prosecuted for the offence - latest report on the case HERE

When the council was last found guilty of a serious criminal offence and let off with a £40,000 fine, which the local community picked up the bill for, why didn't a senior council officer announce at a public meeting that the 'council' had been 'dealt with by the courts'? Not council policy I suppose.

25.1.10 Unjust Eviction?

One of the local newspapers reports that Camden council as landlord has evicted a single mother with 2 children and one on the way from their council home because the mother has been having difficulties paying the rent .... allegedly the mother was warned repeatedly by the council....

I don't know all the facts behind this recent story but I do know that the council has targets they must meet in regards to the collection of rent arrears and what gets me about is this eviction is that the same rent this unfortunate and now homeless family was evicted for not paying goes into a pot of money called the housing revenue account - money the council collects from the public for charges and rents.

Yet more than 130,000 per year of this 'pot' is wilfully and unnessarily in my view handed out on a yearly basis to an overtly political group called the Camden Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations (CFTRA) which has close connections to Camden Council and doesn't actually provide much of a service and certainly not a statutory or necessary one.

I'm not saying the council shouldn't pursue and take action against tenants who wilfully don't pay their rent, but I'm sure there are many families who are on low incomes who really do struggle through no fault of their own to pay the rent and its sickening and unjust when a family is thrown out of their home simply because of rent arrears 'crimes', especially so when the landlord wastes so much of the rent money collected on the likes of the CFTRA and other such public funded political groups whose politically 'connected' members get lots of perks and freebies at the expense of most other tenants - including their rent arrears paid.

28.12.09 Town Hall Cash Scam

http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2009/dec/mystery-town-hall-cash-scam

Edited version

Mystery of Town Hall Cash Scam

TOWN Hall officials have admitted they do not know who stole nearly half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money after the man accused of the scam was cleared by a jury.

Earlier, the jury heard details about the chaotic way Camden Council’s business support and financial systems development department was run, with Mr Hussain’s defence barrister John Causer describing it as “crying out to be defrauded”.

Yesterday (Wednesday) the council refused to answer questions about what went wrong with their investigation and why their auditing team put together a case against the wrong man, instead directing the New Journal to police. Police sources ­suggested it was unlikely that a new investigation would be launched.

The missing cash left a massive hole in the council’s finances. Around £200,000 was stopped before it entered the bogus account and a further £200,000 was covered by Camden’s insurers. But the taxpayer still ended up footing a £10,000 bill in insurance excess charges.

After cross-examining department boss Sue Creech, he said: “On Tuesday she said the whole system was safe, but quickly conceded the whole place was run vastly differently to this. They’ve got invoices a year out of date. [It’s] a department where no one has any clear idea of who works for them [and] even the records are ­inaccurate.”

Earlier Ms Creech had admitted her department was often left chasing invoices from various other departments but was legally obliged to pay out without hard copies.

“There was a good chance we would have difficulty getting the paperwork and we cannot hold up payments,” she said, before describing the problem as “an area we’ve always struggled with.”

Mr Hussain had described how it was not unusual to chase after hard copies of invoices more than a year after the money had been paid out and that he was told to throw away any incomplete paperwork more than 12 months out of date.

Prosecution barrister Benedict Kelleher suggested the department was not watertight. “It wasn’t a foolproof ­system,” he told the court, “and in this case it was quite easily defeated”.

Lib Dem finance chief Councillor Ralph Scott could not be reached last night as the New Journal made several attempts to telephone him.

A council press officer said: “The misappropriation of public funds is a very serious matter and the council has been successful in getting back all but £10,000 of the monies that were stolen.”

He added: “This incident took place 15 months ago and, since then, changes to procedures and processes have been made within the section where it took place to ensure that our internal controls are as robust as possible.”

20.11.09 County Court Judgements

www.tpuc.org

London Borough of Camden

Business Insight Report

21.9.09 Cllrs Unrest

CNJ Letter 17 Sept 2009

AT Monday’s council meeting, elected representatives of Camden were asked by council officers to note that a decision by them was being excluded from usual democratic processes of scrutiny.

By that time I had already formally written to council officials asking to see the details of the decision, but had been refused permission.

So at Monday’s meeting I questioned the absurdity of councillors being asked to note a decision, the details of which they were not allowed to know.

In response, the elected representatives were told that they were merely being asked to note that a piece of business was being removed from democratic accountability. It was explained this was a way of affording councillors, the ability to keep tabs on council officers.

Should it interest you, the piece of business related to the council’s decision to settle a legal dispute with a litigant.

I wonder how many of Camden’s residents realise that their elected representatives are regularly refused access to information held by the council, in their name?

Ironically, the leader of the council is a Liberal Democrat, whose national party claims that they want to open up government to the people of Britain by allowing freedom of information. Another example of the Lib Dems saying one thing, but doing another.

Cllr Keith Sedgwick
Conservative, Gospel Oak ward


19.9.09 Councils 2008/9 Annual Audit

The councils Audit and Corporate Governance committee was held on Tuesday 15 Sept 2009.

The final draft report of the Councils 2008/9 accounts carried out by the Audit Commission evoke some serious questions that need answers to:
  1. What are the objections to the councils accounts about and why is Camden council finding it so hard to resolve them?
  2. Why does the council have a gaping big hole in its pension fund and why wasn't this fund separated from the general fund and put into its own account following last years annual audit as the external audit recommended that it be?
  3. Why did the auditor mention that 11 Council members have yet to register their financial interests?
  4. The councils monitoring officer (head of legal) wrote up a report some months back 'advising' council members to register their interests - why have they ignored his report?
  5. The audit report also mentions weaknesses in the councils management of bank accounts - what accounts is the auditor talking about?
  6. How many residents in the borough have had their emails and telephone calls 'intercepted' by the council?
  7. Will the Audit Commission be issuing a Public Interest Report?
Officers Report and Audit Commission Reports

6.9.09 Undemocratic Camden Council

A few months ago a small minority of residents in Camden where consulted by our 'council' on their views on the possible new governance structures for the Council.

Local parishes were one option that was not favourable to many of the consultees (according to the council) , and another structure was that of directly elected major v indirectly elected leader and cabinet structure.

I don't know what residents real views on this where but the 'council' has taken the decision that the directly elected major structure is not favorably to them. Lib-dem council leader Keith Moffitt doesn't like the idea that 'any old local celebrity' could get elected by residents to be 'leader' on the council.

Council members had been 'whipped up' to agree with Cllr Moffitts idea that the indirectly elected leader and cabinet structure is the best option. This is where 54 members of the council get to vote and which every other resident in the borough who is registered to vote is excluded.

Having 'any old local celeb' as major wouldn't be such a bad idea would it?

Surely what this old and stale council needs is a breath of fresh air, some new blood and new ways of doing things instilled into it?

25.7.09 Camden Council Charged over Death of Toddler

http://www.camdengazette.co.uk/content/camden/chronicle/news/story.aspx?brand=CAMCOnline&category=news&tBrand=northlondon24&tCategory=newscamc&itemid=WeED22%20Jul%202009%2014%3A37%3A53%3A133


Council charged over wall that killed boy, 2
nlnews@archant.co.uk
22 July 2009
CAMDEN Council is being charged over the death of a two-year-old boy crushed to death by a wall.

Saurav Ghai died after a 6ft 6ins brick panel fell on him as he walked down Southampton Road, Gospel Oak.

Camden Council is due to appear at City of London Magistrates' Court on September 2 charged with breaching section three of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The fatal incident happened on January 18, 2007 - as high-speed winds ripped through the borough. Saurav was walking past the Wendling Estate with his nanny when part of its brick wall fell.

An inquest at St Pancras Coroner's Court in November 2007 raised issues about the way the collapsed panel was attached to the rest of the wall.

Saurav's city banker father Vinay, performance analyst mother Desiree, and older brother, of Parkhill Walk, Gospel Oak, were devastated after the incident. Together with friends, relatives and the Mayfair company BlueBay Asset Management, they raised £10,000 for the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead - where Saurav died.

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: "The Health and Safety Executive have commenced a prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work Act related to the tragic death of Saurav Ghai. The case has been adjourned until September because the Health and Safety Executive has not yet provided full details of the proposed action against the council. Once we have received these details we will consider them."

This is not the first time the HSE has taken Camden Council to court.

The council was also charged over the death of 24-year-old Ralph Kennedy, a scaffolder who was electrocuted when he touched a light on the council's Mayford Estate off Oakley Square, Somers Town, on September 15, 2006.

And at the Old Bailey in March, Camden was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £16,445 in costs after pleading guilty to failing to ensure that sub-contracted staff were not exposed to risk, in contravention of the Health and Safety At Work Act.

16.7.09 LGO Annual Complaints Report

year ending March 2009 LGO Annual Complaints report to Camden Council

Annual Residents Survey carried out between 4 Jan 2009 - 2 Feb 2009

"Complaints is an area that has not improved since the last survey and the proportion who say they were dissatisfied with the outcome of their complaint has increased by 4%."

Despite the council saying they have made changes to their 'corporate' complaints system little in the way of change appears to have occurred in how complaints are handled. Well done Camden 'four star' council. Wouldn't do for the council to allow to many complaints about bad services or misconduct by council officers to be logged?

12.7.09 Council Leader Keith Moffitt Makes Huge Profit

Here in Camden some leasehold flats are being sold for a very juicy profit and certain Camden council members have profited very handsomely.

Lib-dem council leader Keith Moffitt made a very tidy profit when he sold his leasehold flat at 39 Buckingham Mansions NW6 last year.

The leasehold was bought at a knockdown price of £100,000 in 2002 and sold 6 years later for a staggering £965,000.

Cllr Moffitt made a whopping £865,000 profit!

26.6.09 CAB Funding Cuts

Why has Camden council cut in half the funding of a vital service - the Citizens Advice Bureau in Kentish Town - yet given other voluntary bodies (the Camden Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations to name one) continued funding at the same level. The CFTRA have been performing badly for years and are by no stretch of the imagination a vital service. Doesn't make sense to me. Helps that the CFTRA is a Labour party organisation with strong connections to Camden council.

On another matter - The Charity SCOPE who have a shop in Camden High Street are asking people to sign a pledge to speak out when they see disabled people being treated unfairly.

Speak out to whom I am wondering as from mine and other peoples experience of 'speaking out' to the council or the police will get you nowhere - they ain't interested. I wonder if SCOPE in Camden are funded by the council because if they are this 'speaking out' call will I'm sure be frowned upon by those who pull the funding strings.

18.6.09 Massive Payout over Abuse Claims

Taken from the Camden Gazette 17 June 09 -page 9

'Council failed to protect me from abuse'

Woman in payout bid over childhood claims

A woman wept as she accused Camden Council of not doing enough to protect her against abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her own mother and uncle.

The woman now a mother herself and in her 30's claims she was subjected to physical and sexual abuse and neglect by her mother, and sexually abused by her uncle.

She insists council officials should have taken her into care shortly after her birth, but Mrs Justice Slade was told at the High Court that the woman was only finally removed from the family home in 1989, when she was a teenager, after her mother took her to a police station and asked for her to be taken away.

The woman identified only as "S" in court, is seeking massive damages from Camden Council, claiming she was let down by social services and that will have a devastating impact on the rest of her life.

The court heard her mother admitted child neglect at Southwark Crown Court in 2005 and received a community rehabilitation order. However, allegations of sexual abuse against her and the woman's uncle only came to light last week.

"S"s barrister Elizabeth-Ann Gumbel, told the judge that her clients childhood memories are so distressing that she refers to her mother only as "Miss P" and that their relationship had once been described by a social worker as "bizarre and unhealthy".

"No reasonable local authority and no reasonably social workers would have failed to remove this woman from the care of her mother, the QC argued.

Whilst giving evidence the woman wept frequently and at one stage fled the witness box, saying she "felt sick".

She told the judge "[My mother] told everyone that I was put into care because I was naughty. I thouht to myself that the next time someone asks me why I don't talk to my mum, I am going to say 'because she was a child abuser'".

Explaining why she has only recently made her allegations, she added: "I did not want anyone to know. I felt dirty and unclean and tried to bury it I" have not even been able to speak to my solicitor about this. I wrote it in an e-mail because I thought it would be easier. It makes me feel sick to think about it". Who wants to think about a sexual relationship with their mother or their uncle?"

Under cross-examination she defended her late disclosure of the sex abuse allegations saying "The sexual scars are harder to speak about. I did not want people to know that I had to do these things, but I thought what was the poin
t hiding it anymore?"

Camden Council denies liability in the case and argues that "S" has in any event left it too late to sue".

Claims for personal injury suffered in childhood normally have to be launched before the victim's 21st birthday, unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, "S"'s legal team insist there was good reasons for the delay".

The hearing continues.


_______________________

1994 - Children in Camden Council Care


UPDATE

Court case decision 16 July 09

1.5.09 Chief Legal Officers

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/plan-chief-legal-officer-splits-local-government-solicitors

Plan for chief legal officer splits local government solicitors
Friday 17 April 2009 by Deven Pamben

A proposal that every local authority be required to appoint a qualified chief legal officer has attracted split responses from 70 different organisations.

The Law Society and Solicitors in Local Government have proposed a change in the law to create the new role, replacing that of monitoring officer, who does not have to be legally qualified. Chief legal officers would be solicitors, barristers or legal executives.

The Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors and the Local Government Group, the SLG’s training arm, opposed the plans from the outset (see [2009] Gazette, 5 February, 3).

The consultation also drew criticism from England’s largest local authority. Mirza Ahmad, corporate director of governance at Birmingham City Council, described the proposal as ‘poor-quality and lacking in real understanding of issues facing monitoring officers’.

But the Institute of Legal Executives said it would ‘be in the public interest’ for councils to have a chief legal officer answerable to a professional regulatory body.

A paper on the proposal will go before the Law Society’s legal affairs and policy board in the next two months, Mark Stobbs, the Law Society’s director of legal policy, said.

Meanwhile, local authorities are being urged not to pass the cost of practising certificate fees on to their legal officers as a cash-saving measure. Guy Goodman, SLG’s chair, says he was made aware of one council considering passing on the £995 fee to its solicitors. ‘This would be a backward step and is not a move we would support.’

Law Society Consultation paper Jan 09