Will ‘Boots’ toe the line over doctor’s proposed remedy?

Mark Wilkinson Paul Errock and Robert Barnes

The controversial outfall from a story first broken on Neil Wilby Media on 16th November, 2022 continues to spread far and wide.

The article can be read in full here but, in essence, it was two Liberal Democrat councillors who sit on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council (OMBC) complaining about a senior Labour councillor and alleged discrepancies over his Register of Interests declarations.

Dr Zahid Chauhan MBE, the Labour politician at the centre of the dispute, via his solicitor, robustly denies any wrongdoing and insists all the necessary procedures were followed regarding the award by OMBC of a contract for COVID-19 swabbing to a community, not for profit company of which he is a senior paid employee, and about which he says he knew very little in any event.

Five days later, it was revealed exclusively by Neil Wilby Media (read more here) that one of the Liberal Democrats, Cllr Mark Kenyon, and one of the two local newspapers that serve the town, The Oldham Chronicle, had been served with legal letters by solicitors acting for Dr Zahid Chauhan MBE, the Labour politician at the centre of the dispute. A former Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, he presently serves the Borough as Deputy Mayor.

Neither Cllr Kenyon, nor the LibDem Group Leader, Cllr Howard Sykes MBE, also a former Leader of Oldham Council, has taken up the offer of right of reply to that article and appear to have made no public statement at all since being served with the solicitor’s letter.

The Chronicle’s managing director, Matthew Ramsbottom, did not reply substantively to a list of questions emailed to him relating to the subject article. One which Dr Chauhan’s lawyers assert was ‘defamatory’ and re-published what they say was the start of ‘a smear campaign’ initiated by the Liberal Democrats. They have, however, taken down the story from their website and from their Facebook page without explanation or public statement.

On 24th November, 2022, another Neil Wilby Media exclusive (read here) revealed that an unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist, Raja Miah, was also set to receive a warning letter from JMW Solicitors in Manchester, whom are instructed in this matter by Dr Chauhan. A fact confirmed by Miah on his Recusant Nine Facebook page the following day:

“I have been informed that I am going to be sued for defamation unless I delete all of my content regarding Dr Chauhan and his two medical centres. I guess someone didn’t like what I brought to public attention. No surprise really”.

Now it appears that there has been a fourth legal letter issued over the raging conflict of interest controversy: Paul Errock (pictured above centre), a wealthy construction magnate turned politician and known almost everywhere in the Oldham and Saddleworth area simply as ‘Boots’, is also now said to be in dispute with Dr Chauhan, and his solicitors, over social media posts.

Since early 2019, Boots has been the driving force behind three political parties, SaddleworthFirst!, Proud of Oldham and Saddleworth (widely known as the POOS) and, much more latterly, the Oldham Borough Independent Party. Although it does appear that the latest incarnation is simply a name change in order to jettison the tainted POOS brand. He is closely aligned with Cllr Mark Wilkinson (pictured above left) and his Failsworth Independent Party and at least one of the Oldham Conservative councillors, Robert Barnes (pictured above right).

Boots is also well known for his comedic, controversial and, at times, outrageous social media output and it is a matter of considerable public interest as to how a dispute fought out between two protagonists, both with deep pockets, plays out.

Added interest flows from the fact that Paul Errock, a noted amateur boxer and stage singer under the name ‘Boris Billion’ in his prime, was, not so long ago, a very close friend and political ally of Raja Miah, joined together by their rabid anti-Labour Party stance. As a resident of Grasscroft and with his business based in Lees, he is also a ward constituent of Cllr Kenyon. Although it is true to say that both politically and philosophically they appear worlds apart.

The usual courtesy of a right to reply has been offered. So far, Paul Errock hasn’t responded but that may be explained by his Facebook feed appearing to place him in Benidorm on a family holiday.

His Twitter feed is well populated with one-way conversations to such as Elon Musk, the new owner of the social media giant; Joe Biden, President of the USA; pop star Liam Gallagher; and notable footballing personalities Gary Lineker and Gareth Southgate, the present England team manager.

Comments posted after this article was published include:

“No way Paul [Errock] will back down. He never does”.

“How did situation ever get this far with so many legal threats? Why couldn’t it be resolved between the Lib Dem councillors and Dr Chauhan in the first place?”

“Will the doctor admit to failings at the two GP practices in Oldham as per the CQC reports?”

“Has this whole thing gone past apologies and handshakes time? sad if that’s the case when so many people going hungry in our town”.

Page last updated Monday 28th November, 2022 at 1150hrs

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Picture credits: Saddleworth Independent

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

2 thoughts on “Will ‘Boots’ toe the line over doctor’s proposed remedy?

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