Borough Solicitor ‘reported to SRA’

Screenshot 2022-12-08 at 12.20.55

Following publication of an article on Neil Wilby Media yesterday, cataloguing a series of alarming blunders made by Oldham Council’s Borough Solicitor (read here), a source has subsequently claimed that a very well-known, indeed infamous, local politician has ‘reported Paul Entwistle multiple times to the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority (SRA)’.

Given the highly attritional relationship between the Council, its top lawyer and former Labour councillor turned Conservative activist, Khazir Rehman (more widely known as ‘Kaiser’), from 2015 onwards, that would not be the biggest surprise. Particularly, as he is a complainant, and litigant in person, on other wide-ranging matters.

Indeed, the same Borough Solicitor took the decision to classify Kaiser as a ‘persistent and vexatious complainant’ several years ago under the Council’s Unreasonable Behaviour Policy.

For those reasons, the unattributed allegations from an anonymous source (not inconceivably, Kaiser himself) would have been filed as ‘intelligence’ in the usual way and would not have fermented into public interest journalism. 

But, access granted to other materials, published latterly, not yet in the public domain, and protectively marked, strongly suggest that Kaiser may be justified in complaining about the prejudiced way in which he was treated over complaints and counter-complaints made via the Council’s Standards mechanism in 2015 and 2016. Managed of course, by the Borough Solicitor in his parallel and statutory role as Monitoring Officer.

It is also very clear that such partiality also extended to an, as yet, unidentified inspector, serving at Oldham police station at the time, whom, quite jauntily, breached his own force’s Professional Standards in dismissing an alleged crime reported by Kaiser, or re-opening the case when a material witness was later proved to have lied to the police over the very same matter.

A fact of which the Council must have been acutely aware, by way of email correspondence with the subject officer, but chose not to challenge such lamentable and unprofessional conduct as it suited their purposes not to do so. That would have been the job of the Council’s Monitoring Officer, of course. 

It also is apparent that those emails between the council and police were not disclosed to the firm of solicitors, Bevan Brittan, appointed by the Monitoring Officer, to investigate those complaints and counter-complaints.

Whilst the accessed documents remain under the cloak of confidentiality it is not possible, ethically or professionally, to reveal more about these concerning circumstances beyond this bare outline or, in the case of the miscreant police inspector, where there is an overwhelming public interest in so doing.  

Litigation between the Council and an unsuccessful Kaiser left the latter with a legal costs bill of over £100,000 owing to the same Oldham Council, dating back around two years. When enquiries were last made, several months ago, the sum was still unpaid and, for unexplained reasons, the debt collection process had been paused. 

That may, of course, be connected to the outcome of other legal matters and not least the £200,000 costs and damages bill he faces after being judged earlier this year, in the Royal Courts of Justice, to have harassed and defamed another Oldham councillor. A remedy hearing is fixed for 14th February, 2022 at the same venue.

Yet another Oldham councillor was responsible for the complaints that led to a harassment conviction for Khazir Rehman in August, 2021 at Tameside Magistrates’ Court. Amongst a range of other sanctions, Kaiser was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail, suspended for eighteen months, the following month. He remains on prison licence (read in full here). 

For the avoidance of doubt, a report to the SRA is not a finding or implication of guilt and none is asserted, or imputed, beyond the matters specifically stated in this article. The threshold for an adverse finding at this particular statutory regulator is notoriously high and the process is, most decidedly, not complainant friendly. Furthermore, ‘multiple times’ may, of course, mean just twice. 

Oldham’s Borough Solicitor has been offered the usual courtesy of right of reply. A request has also been made to the GMP press office for a statement from the District Commander in respect of the allegations against the Oldham police inspector.

It has not been possible to contact Khazir Rehman (Kaiser).

Page last updated Thursday 8th December, 2022 at 1330hrs

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Picture credits: WYP

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Published by Neil Wilby

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

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