Cllr Russell Douglas Tillson (pictured below) was first elected to Shepway District Council as a Cllr for the Dymchurch & St. Marys Bay Ward in 2007 with 846 votes. He was elected again in May 2011 to the same ward with 1,113 votes. In 2014/15 we examined Cllr Tillson’s and Simmons expenses claims, and Cllr Simmons was investigated and repaid £210.15. However, Cllr Tillson was never investigated as he was no longer a sitting Cllr, as he lost his seat to Cllr Susie Govett in May 2015.
After he lost his seat, the window to inspect the accounts opened; and during this twenty day window, our public face asked for and received all Cllrs expenses for 2014/15. Together we as a team analysed the data and found there to be significant anomalies in two Cllrs Expenses claims. The two being, former Cllr Peter Simmons and recently re-elected Cllr Russell Douglas Tillson. We blogged on this significantly; and succeeded in achieving an investigation into these anomalies.
The investigation into the anomalies was led by W.D.Milne a Solicitor and former head of Legal Services for Swale Borough Council (Retired). His final report was submitted in January 2016, after we first reported on the anomalies in August 2015, with evidence.
Mr Milne makes the comment that “the Investigation was fairly unusual for a Standards Investigation, as it was a direct referral via the Shepway District Council Monitoring Officer – Amandeep Khroud (Solicitor)(pictured) from the Audit and Governance Committee.”
Mr Milne’s report mentions Cllr Tillson (pictured left below) on eight occasions. The first occasion was by way of a telephone interview; which he also conducted with the current leader of the Council, Councillor David Drury Monk (pictured centre below) and former Councillor and leader Robert Bliss (pictured right below) and; the Head of Audit Partnership, Christine Parker, who prepared the detailed investigation report.
On the second occasion the report states “there is no clear audit trail regarding who authorised Councillor Tillson to travel by taxi”. I (Mr Milne) have now had the opportunity of speaking to both the current Leader and the former Leader by telephone and can confirm that neither has a clear recollection concerning the allegation and cannot recall one way or the other whether a decision was made on the subject. Mr Milne concluded that it is unlikely that a definitive answer… can ever be reached. “
We won’t bore you with the other six occasions. Suffice to say the Investigation report makes it clear in section 5 that the system of checking Councillors claims had been relaxed in the period of time leading up to the current case and had resulted in only spot checks being made. These spot checks did not detect the issue with regard to the Subject Member’s claim forms.
Now Cllr Tillson is back on the Council, will SDC’s Monitoring Officer Amandeep Khroud (Solictor) (pictured below) and/or the Audit & Governance Committee, directly refer Cllr Tillson expenses claims for 14/15 to Mr Milne Solicitor for investigation or some other qualified person?
It is now 14 weeks since Cllr Tillson re-election in July. In that time he has failed to sign up to the Register of Data Controllers; which all other SDC Cllrs are signed up to, except him. It is a criminal offence not to be signed up to the register.
As the constituency representative for New Romney Ward, Cllr Tillson is a data controller in his own right as a constituency Cllr, as he may hold personal data about you, his constituents, or others he may have helped. He is therefore a data controller for any equipment, any email account, any electronic system that he uses to communicate with his constituents or others he may have helped.
By not being signed up to the Register, Cllr Tillson is committing and continues to commit a criminal offence in his short period as a re-elected Cllr. The fine in a magistrate’s court is £5,000 and can rise to half a million in a County Court, payable by Cllr Tillson, not SDC. The cost to register is £35 is solely at Cllr Tillson’s expense too.
All Cllrs are given training on this issue once elected to office. So there is no sufficient or adequate reason why Cllr Tillson; who has eight years experience as a Cllr; and was voted onto the Council 14 weeks ago, has not signed up to the register.
At present it is safe to say that Cllr Tillson is committing a criminal offence. It is Amandeep Khroud’s responsibility as Monitoring Officer, to report on matters she believes are, or are likely to be, illegal or amount to maladministration and or report any actual or potential breaches of law or maladministration to Council and/or to the Cabinet
If you are one of Cllr Tillson’s constituents or a person he has assisted outside his constituency, we would strongly advise you to write to Cllr Tillson to encourage him to sign up to the Register of Data Controllers. Or you can contact Amandeep Khroud to inform her a Cllr is committing a criminal offence while serving as a Councillor. You can contact them at:
firstname.lastname@example.org – 01797 362642 – 07963 911402
email@example.com – 01303 853253
The Shepwayvox Team
PS Russell went to Pembroke College, Cambridge and studied Economics/Social & Political Sciences receiving a First Class Honours (1968 – 74). Seven years later he turns up at Tonbridge School and taught there for 20 years. He was Head of Economics & Politics, as well as Head of Sixth Form in his time at the school. While working at the school, Russell allegedly paid out £100,000 plus to students on an early 90’s study break when a Grand National bet went spectacularly wrong. He was Deputy Leader of SDC and Cabinet Member for Finance between 2013 -2015. Cllr Tillson does not appear on any Land Registry documents, either freehold or leasehold, for the address he gives to Shepway District Council.