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Corruption at Wandsworth Council

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Corrupt council aided by bent solicitors

Our correspondent, William Mabey, writes ...

I am afraid that money is not the answer to the problems with local authorities , the corruption to too endemic. My situation is not unique ... far from it. To give you some idea how deep this problem is I will tell you my story, it is far from being unique. I do go on a bit but stay with me on this.

In 1985 my Company was awarded a contract to install door entry systems to a blocks of flats (205 properties) on the Wendlesworth Estate, close to the shopping centre in Wandsworth. Later, I learned that this work was not being undertaken for the benefit of the existing residents, but because Maggie (you know who) wanted to show that Wandsworth, being Tory run, was managing better and the rates were low, compared to the Socialists running Lambeth next door. It was even made into a promotional advert for the voting campaign.

The plan was simple ... sell the flats for money to lower the rates and look for any other funding that would help. At the time Wandsworth was also given substantial funding for sea defenses. Why, I do not know. And they got more money for new street lighting. The plan worked and Maggie did well out of it.

It became clear to me that other companies involved with the commercial development were not what they seemed to be and my contract, instead of lasting 6 months, dragged on for almost 17 months. A one meeting it was suggested that if I wanted more public contracts perhaps a suitable donation of 2,000 would be in order. I said no.

At the end of the contract I was around 74,000 out of pocket, and the contract was delayed mainly due to abortive works and lack of equipment. To give a few example of this:
    a) The Company was asked to drill holes in concrete staircases for cable routes which were later abandoned on the orders of the Council Clerk of works.
    b) we were given an expensive Fireman's switch and told that, as part of the contract, we were, at our own cost, to have 39 more made. It was clear that the council wanted us bankrupt and off the job. The Council did prepare another company to complete the contract - Status Electronics - the very company who could not supply the parts and components for ICS to complete the contract.

There was another company who also tendered to complete the works - Complete Communications Ltd. This Company was not listed anywhere, the only way you could contact them was to call Status Electronics and ask to be put through.

On completion of the Wendlesworth contract I applied for arbitration for all the unpaid invoices I had submitted. The Arbitrator was appointed and the other side appointed Green and Co solicitors. They were not very good and Galpin was appointed instead. Then the arguments started. Was this or that included or excluded? This went of for another three-and-a-half years.

In the end a document was produced (I have still never seen it) saying I was out for time for Arbitration and that was that - just the evening before I was going to be awarded 74,000. I had received a substantial invoice from Status for equipment they claimed to have have sent me and I opposed it. I had also appointed surveyors to represent me who thought that the award would not cover the works actually undertaken. Still with me? What I decided to do then was to counterclaim against Status and asked my the Solicitors, Andersons in Croydon, for the documentation regarding the contract.

Three times they wrote to me saying all the documentation had been lost and the claim against Status fell by the wayside. I went to many solicitors in Croydon and the South East but none would represent me. It was only the Lloyds Bank manager who kept me afloat with a 37,000 overdraft and that was after I had gone through my savings of 40,000 and shares worth around 18,000 at the time. The bank manager told the bank's solicitors to represent me or they would get no more work from Lloyds.

I then commenced a round of meetings with Mr Lovibond at Blyth Coles and Stevenson. I am not sure what went on and was passed to Mr Love at Peard, Pringle Webster and John (now ASB Law ... remember that). I then also paid them a lot of money and on several occasions went to see a barrister, David Pearl, in the Temple during 1988. One day they just stopped dealing with me.

Each time the solicitors let me down I complained to the relevant Law Society department. I again searched for new solicitors and eventually found one Tottenham. It was this solicitor who told me about the fact that the Arbitration was void. Perhaps you can now begin to see how complicated these solicitors were making matters for me. Jeremy Fear turned out to be no better than the rest of the solicitors. It was Fear who told me the professional negligence claim by Anderson's was delayed due to court congestion in Croydon. This, in fact, was a lie. I found this out when I went to Croydon to claim money from a debtor who told me there was no delay.

I then reported Fear to the Law Society and told them if they did not lay a trap for him I would not be believed, What did they do? They wrote to him and he naturally denied what he had been telling me so another lot of substantial fees was wasted.

Next came Michael Judge of Judge and Priestly, Bromley. I paid the usual fees and thought they were getting on with matters that were now piling up. They were very good at doing nothing and lies originated from that building.

Timewise, it is now 1994.

One day I received a letter from the Court to say the case had been dismissed because nobody had turned up in Court. J & P were listed as representing me and one day just never turned up at one of the many hearings. Now what was their excuse do you think? Well it was that they never received any papers from the Court.

Again I complained to the Law Society and they assured me they would investigate my complaint. It only took them 3 years to do so and on the 26th June 1997 J & P sent me a cheque for 1,000. As the matter with J & P had died, I was declared Bankrupt and thrown out of my business. It took me months to get my business back and pay off all my debtors in full. From a 12,000 original debt I was obliged to pay back 57,000. Which I did.

I then went through another firm of solicitors, Shoosmith and Harrison. Like most of the other firms I had been to they were also fined for abysmal service.

Now we are up to Christmas 1996, and I go to the Salvation Army carol service where I see an advert regarding Croydon Christian solicitors, Conningsby's and, after more payment of fees, I am put in the capable care of Sharon Lam, who has a tendency to twirl her pen in her hand. I am told if I keep paying the fees the professional negligence claim will be successful and I will get all my money back, with costs and interest. She will also look to my former claim for compensation. I had learned a lot over the years and knew that I had to attend every hearing, regardless of that it was about.

Matters seemed to be progressing well. I was told that I had two things in my favour: one was that the compensation payout would come from the Law Society, and that Andersons had tried to take me to Court for the outstanding fees they claimed I owed them. We would therefore counterclaim. The Law Society appointed Thompson Snell and Passmore to represent Andersons, and years were wasted with Anderson's applications that the matter should be dismissed because the claim was 'stale'. I am now sure that if I had not attended every hearing this would have become fact.

A trial Date was actually set for December 1999, only 14 years after the Wendlesworth Contract. As the trial date came closer I began to suspect that my solicitors were not what they seemed to be. First, I had been investigating my former solicitors and what they were up to I often went to see them and spent many hours standing outside their homes waiting for them to come out but they never did. In the meantime Love had died, however his papers on me from 1987 had survived. ASB Law had them and I asked for them. They did show them to me briefly but removed them when they realised what they contained.

I asked Sharon Lam to obtain the papers for us as it would help our case. I was beginning to be concerned about Sharon Lam as she was now constantly asking me for money, in fact the total bill with all the solicitors I had seen came to 107,00. I then asked to view my account with her and she refused. I had also been told by my building society that when I had moved home I had been given a 500 cashback (the good old days). Sharon had kept this money and not told me about it.

I contacted the Law Society and asked them to tell the solicitors to show me my account. The Law Society told me at the time the account was 'privileged' and I was not not allowed to view it. I was told however that money had been moved around my accounts and there was a small error in my favour of just over 4,000.

Sharon was now telling me, just before the trial, I had a very weak case and the Law Society had stated to make me offers, which I refused. She wanted money from me now and I sold my car to pay her fees, but it was never going to be enough. In the end, just before the trial the offer was upped to 37,000 and she wanted 11,000 from me or there would be no trial. I was forced to accept the offer of 37,000 odd. After this I knew I had been ripped off, and sat in at the taxation hearing. On leaving the Court the Costs draughtsman told me I had been ripped off in passing. For me that was it! Another complaint to the Law Society. They would not help me, nor would any firm of solicitors who I approached in southern England.

In the end I applied to the High court in London to have the bill taxed. It only took FIVE long dreary hearings just to view a copy of a sort of account with Coningsby's. Immediately I saw it I realised the solicitors had been DOUBLE charging me and there was, in fact, plenty of money on account at the time to go to trial. I did ask Judge Seager Berry to issue an order that I be given a copy of these accounts produced at the FIFTH hearing because I believed they were false. Needless to say the Judge, in the end, refused to enforce the order. I wonder why?

I did manage to obtain my files back from Coningsby and went through them. It was quite clear to me that I had not been given the whole file - only parts of it. But what I did discover was very dramatic. The Court document that had been submitted, along with the evidence, was shown as being signed by me. What in fact had happened was that although the signature was mine it has been removed from another document and pasted on the Court form and photocopied. AND THE ORIGINAL FORGED DOCUMENT WAS IN THE FILE THE SOLICITORS HAD GIVEN ME.

Well I was straight into making a complaint to the Law Society, thinking with such solid evidence I would have no problems. How wrong I was! The Law Society was just not interested and after much badgering from me they decided, at the end of 2003, to investigate.

Naturally they found in favour of the solicitors. I then made a complaint to the Legal Service Ombudsman and what a joke that was. Any one who has been to them must know Robert Bartram who calls himself a solicitor. When I heard nothing from the LSO it was he who wrote to me saying they had never received my complaint which, incidentally, was sent recorded delivery and was signed for. The LSO, being a bunch of idiots like solicitors, sent me an acknowledgement letter and I then informed Robert Bartram they had received the letter including the evidence.

After some delay I was told it was my real signature and they claimed the document had been sent back to me. It never was.

Cutting a long story short ...  a number of years later I finally got the document back with a recent dated postmark. Back again I went to the LSO. And they requested the document back around the time the old LSO became the new LSO. I waited ages and then made a polite call to return my document and it was returned. So I the made a "freedom of information request". These documents showed that references to me and my LSO investigator and my PM - the useless Richard Ottaway - who just happens to be a solicitor and, because of his own "duck house" claim is resigning after being made a Sir!

I now knew who, other than Robert Bartram, had seen my file. Barbara Fitzgerald was the investigating person. None of these and the many others who had seen my file would say the document was a forgery. I now wrote to Barbara Fitzgerald at her home and asked to see her about the document. I received no reply.

What I did receive, however, was a call from the police asking to see me. At the meeting I subsequently attended I was told that if I kept on complaining about the forged signature I would be arrested and shown the door.

Sharon Lam did well out of this as she is now a solicitor working for Thompson Snell and Passmore. And the file she had from ASB Law was now 'lost'. What happed was that I asked for the file(s) and Sharon Lam refused to give give them to me. If she had, from what the files contained, I think half the solicitors in Croydon would have gone to Prison.

I made an application to the Court to obtain them. At the hearing the Judge said the solicitors defence as to why I should not have them was reasonable because they had given a solicitors undertaking I should not have or view them. He therefore denied the order. They were returned to ASB Law and promptly lost. After much argument and delay I was awarded 1,000 for the loss of the files ... cheap at the price, for them.

I am not giving up as the 'old boy's network' clearly works well. Recently I contacted ASB Law who closed down their offices in Croydon: I often seem to have that affect of firms and solicitors. They informed me there was no file(s) but they knew all about me.

Later I received a letter containing documents from this lost file which refers to Quintin Love Beverly (assistant solicitor) and David Pearl, barrister. One of the documents is a note from Love to Pearl saying, "Watch out for Mr Mabey and protect me because I am covering for other solicitors." Pearl should have reported the mater to me and the authorities, but did not. He is now a Judge sitting at the London Employment tribunal and has been training other Judges I hear. I cannot allow him to continue as he is corrupt. If he was corrupt for me in 1988, then I am sure he has also buggered up someone else's life.

If I can get support from others I would be happy to confront him with the document and have Tom Harper from the Independent to witness. If I go on my own I will just be thrown out, but if I go mob-handed and under cover I am sure it will make the national press. Anyone up for it?

I am happy to post the forged document on the web along with the 'lost' document recently received. Maybe The ASB person will come out of the closet and give me the whole file.

We are like straws. So far we have used the law individually but it is corrupt, as I have shown. Perhaps we should all act in unison. If nobody comes to the tribunal with me I am happy to go and be arrested, if necessary.

Editorial Comment:

What this country desperately needs is some honest solicitors. Unfortunately, we don't know who or where they are because the stories we hear suggest there are as many, if not more, crooks inside the legal profession than out of it. Corruption is rife, as it is in law enforcement generally, yet these people have the powers to make lives truly miserable for many honest people.

If anyone has experience of any of the people mentioned in Mr Mabey's article please let us know

An update from Bill Mabey:

I did send David Pearl a letter saying that it was my aim to get him dismissed as a Judge. He has now complained to the Police about me. Thomas Ashley at Holborn Police Station called me and said if I keep writing to Pearl they will arrest me.

It seems I am not popular with the Justice System.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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