Thanet councillor referred to Action Fraud ‘simply as a precaution’

Three complaints were made about Cllr Albon's register of interests

By Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Esson

A Thanet district councillor has been referred to Action Fraud for allegedly not declaring a settlement agreement with the council.

Cllr Steve Albon (Lab), cabinet member for cleansing and coastal services at Thanet District Council (TDC), was referred to the fraud reporting service by the authority’s standards assessment sub-committee.

Three complaints have been made against Cllr Albon by resident Ian Driver in connection with the register of interests.

TDC leader Cllr Rick Everitt says the matter relates to a “minor payment” made to Cllr Albon as part of a severance agreement when he stopped working for the council in 2016 – three years before he was elected.

He added the matter was referred to Action Fraud “simply as a precaution” and described the suggestion Cllr Albon has done anything wrong as “absurd”.

The complaints are summarised in a document seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), which outlines the decision from the sub-committee.

The first complaint alleges that Cllr Albon “failed to complete his register of interests form to include mention of a settlement agreement which related to his former employment status with Thanet District Council”.

The second alleges that his register of interest form did not mention a settlement agreement which related to his spouse’s former employment status with the authority.

The final complaint alleged that he “failed to disclose his and his spouse’s conflict of interest in matters revolving around former chief executive officer Madeline Homer, whilst sitting as a member of the council’s general purposes committee and the general purposes investigations and disciplinary sub-committee”.

Madeline Homer was chief executive at TDC for seven years, leaving in 2022.

Councillors must register their interests with local authorities after being elected, including the relevant interests of their spouses.

This includes financial interests, occupation, property ownership, shares and directorships, and contracts – especially contracts involving the local authority itself.

On issues relating to their interests, councillors are usually not allowed to vote.

The decision notice, dated August 24, says members reviewed the complaints, local assessment procedure and the councillors’ code of conduct.

It was unanimously decided that the matter be referred to the police to investigate, and TDC appointed an independent investigating officer to examine the matter further.

TDC later confirmed that the matter had been referred to Action Fraud. Kent Police is not investigating.

Action Fraud is a reporting service run by the City of London Police and National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB), which does not have investigatory powers.

The NFIB assesses reports made to Action Fraud and decides whether they should then be referred to local police forces for investigation or not.

The council decision notice added that the discussion “revolved around the existence of a non-disclosure agreement agreed upon by Councillor Albon and whether or not this agreement would conflict with the register of interests form required by members to complete”.

Cllr Albon did not respond to a request for comment.

But in a statement provided to the LDRS, Cllr Everitt said: “This matter is solely concerned with a minor payment made to Steve Albon as part of a severance agreement when he left the council’s employment in 2016.

“He was not elected to the council until 2019.

“Councillors are required to declare live contracts to provide the council with goods or services, which Steve reasonably concluded was not the case here.

“It was a one-off payment at the end of his employment seven years ago. Indeed, the matter was referred on simply as a precaution because the council itself had not been able to ascertain that any offence has been committed despite taking external legal advice.

“In my opinion the idea that Steve has done anything wrong here is absurd.”

Action Fraud has been contacted for comment.

24 Comments

  1. I’m sure we are all very grateful to Mr Driver for selflessly spending 100s of hours every week trawling through the darker recesses of public realm information in order to protect us from these malfeasances.
    Steve Albon is in good company.
    Our Mp Craig MacKinley “forgot” to declare to the House of Commons that he owned an airline company, whilst speaking in support of some airport or other.

  2. When you serve the public as a councillor you have to be squeaky clean and account for your actions/inactions.
    Cover your back no ifs, no buts. Simple really.

    • Well he finally stopped Folk week from having Morris Dancers with Blackface, and there has been a review of Dickens from a contemporary perspective.
      But of course Harry Webb if you are a closet racist you wouldn’t give a pot of Robinson’s Jam would you?

      • You obviously don’t know me Clare.
        Between 1990 & 1993 I was the Chair of the local Amnesty group. I went into schools to talk about human rights before it was on any curriculum.
        In 2003 I stood for council on a Stop The War ticket.
        Around the same time as a civil servant I was elected by a group of peers with significantly more melanin than I to the role of Chair of a regional race diversity network. In whichever U had the privilege to meet and work with the likes of Roland Biosah, Imran Khan and Lindsay Bucknor. When Her Majesty’s Government endorsed the E.U. Race Directive I alone collated the national ethnicity data to answer the first part of our baseline Race Equality Scheme.

        I’ll forgive you Your ignorance.

        Btw. Do you know the origin of the name Morris as in dancers and, the blackface?

        • Harry Webb, so you assume I have no campaigning credentials?
          I beat you by a couple of decades.
          And I know more than you imagine about the blackface and moorish mimicry.
          So you can stick your mansplaining and polish your ego in the privacy of your own home.

          And there was me thinking you were Cliff Richard!

          • I didn’t assume anything.
            I merely attempted to point out that your veiled accusation of racism on my part is incorrect.
            Thank you for your observations on me. I will refrain from returning the favour.
            Have a nice life.

      • I’ve always been curious about the “black face” in our folk tradition as using white and/or black to paint faces is very common among many cultures.
        I was told that the Morris Dancer tradition goes back to blacking the face to mask the person’s identity from the gentry of the day. Morris Men would often accept money (not to be obvious to their feudal lord) and be irreverent (hide themselves from arrest).

        • In his book “Staying Power” Peter Fryer suggests an interesting origin very different and older than that which you mention above.

  3. TDC leader Cllr Rick Everitt says the added the matter was referred to Action Fraud “simply as a precaution” and described the suggestion Cllr Albon has done anything wrong as “absurd”.

    So the matter has been referred-but the leader of the council, despite having nothing to do with this process, or the skill-set to determine any ruling feels the need to preempt the matter by declaring it as absurd & effectively declaring that he will be cleared?

    Surely this oversteps the mark as council leader & one wonders if he would be so quick to jump to the defence of say a Conservative Councillor accused of the same things, as he is a fellow Labour Councillor?

    Whatever he or anybody else feels about former Councillor Driver-if there is a potential breach then he is perfectly within his rights to report such matters & it should be looked at by the experts in the matter, without a public declaration of innocence & a rebuke/putdown to Mr Driver from the leader of the council, totally undermining their investigation.

    “It was a one-off payment at the end of his employment seven years ago. Indeed, the matter was referred on simply as a precaution because the council itself had not been able to ascertain that any offence has been committed despite taking external legal advice.

    So here we are-Mr Everitt despite taking legal advice has not been able to determine whether any offence has been committed & having referred the matter to the experts-yet he says it is absurd to think it has! Is this because of the person reporting it? Because it is a member of the same political party as him? You clearly don’t have a clue, so why are you making such asinine comments? If they find a breach you will look very foolish indeed. I say all this as a Labour supporter & voter as well-very disappointing behaviour from the leader.

  4. Ian Driver seems to have a grudge- a very big grudge- against the Labour Party. He has been airing it on his blog for years.

    • Maybe, but it is totally irrelevant. Mr Driver has reported possible misdeeds to a relevant authority as he or anybody else is entitled to do. The Council leader has taken external legal advice & they cannot determine whether there is any wrongdoing or not, so why is the layman leader than saying it is absurd, when skilled lawyers he has asked don’t know whether there is a case to answer?

      If the legal advice had been it is total nonsense then fine, but the fact the case has been submitted to Action Fraud by the councils own standards assessment sub-committee shows his public statement on it is totally out of line, possibly prejudicial to the AF decision & possibly his judgement/motives biased because the accused is a fellow Labour Councillor, again would he be making these statements/defence if it was a Tory, Lib Dem or Independent being accused?

        • He is correct, which is why under the Localism act the Council referred it to the Police and insisted an independent enquiry. Neither is the sum of allegedly 15–20 thousand as a pay-off insignificant (perhaps it is pocket money to the Everitt household) especially if the complainant who was employed by TDC at the time allegedly witnessed Albon hurling racist abuse at a member of the public whilst in a TDC liveried vehicle. It is a cover up being attempted by the Leader of the Thanet Labour Party as he also never declared potential pecuniary benefit on his property which is close to Parkway Station. Everitt actively promoted this station against the wishes of the Cliffs End Parish Council and residents. The former bullying CEO Madeline Homer worked closely with Everitt and Albon to diffuse former Councillor Ian Driver’s investigations by attacking and ridiculing any viable complaint associated with corruption of process by councillors and officers. I have lived here for decades and the appalling and just reputation that TDC has acquired is in desperate need of addressing. Actors who have been part of this history of conduct unbecoming must go to enable a professionally functioning council that with ever decreasing means serves the tax payers and people of Thanet and not the egos, allowances, and status of the clearly corrupted.

  5. Two things to remember 1.If a concern is raised, investigate it, don’t attack the messenger. 2.If a concern warrants investigation don’t comment on its validity but inform the investigators.
    Everitt should apologise for marking partisan statements. We deserve better from Council leaders.

  6. That’s the reason for reporting him, wow, I believe TDC, it’s CCLRs and MPs, over the last 6 years at least should be investigated for serious fraud over Manston multiple times failed airfield. Nothing stinks more of under hand dealings than that one.

  7. In this country as far as I am aware we are innocent until proven guilty. Perhaps Ian Driver should take the plank out of his own eye first without spending so much time looking for the specks of sawdust in someone else’s.

    • Mrs Probert, no doubt you would agree, in your wisdom, that is is completely wrong for the Labour Leader Councillor Rick Everitt to prejudge any independent investigation by the Police or an external body, especially as his ‘analysis’ smacks of nepotism.

      Perhaps if you take the plank out of your own eye you may read the story more clearly and gain a better understanding.

      Are you also familiar with the phrase the tip of the iceberg?

    • “In this country as far as I am aware we are innocent until proven guilty. ”

      Which is why its been referred to action fraud for investigation…you know, so they can figure out culpability of guilt…

      You did engage in critical thought and logic before posting, right?!

  8. Yes the leader of the council should know better than to comment publicly on a matter that has been referred externally for investigation. This does the labour group no favours at all.

  9. I don’t often comment here but I will be publishing an article on my blogsite about Cllr Everitt’s commments on the standards investigation into Cllr Albon in the next few days. It will not be complimentary of Cllr Everitt but unlike his comments it will be truthful

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