Half Truths by Dr Priest at Overview & Scrutiny Committee? You decide

Dr. Priest

At last night’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Tim Prater (Lib Dem), Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green) and Cllr Laura Davison (Lab) did themselves proud by probing the issues around Gas Safety Certificates. The Head of Paid Service Dr Susan Priest (pictured) admitted that as of yesterday evening (18/06/19) the number of properties in Folkestone & Hythe District without the legally necessary gas safety certificates had fallen to 46. This is welcome news, but still 46 to many. However, those who have been contacted do they actually have a gas safety certificate? Or are have they been booked for a gas safety check appointment. The difference was NOT made clear by Dr Priest.

The video below is that part of the Overview & Scrutiny committee which dealt with East Kent Housing.

Dr Priest then informed the committee a company called HQM have been called in to investigate how this mess has come to pass. HQM she informed the committee will have “full and unfettered access” to everything. However, we doubt that to be  100% true. We would go as far as saying her statement was a half truth. We say this for the following reasons.

East Kent Housing use the Microsoft Exchange Server. This is a mail server for Outlook emails among other things. So emails sent via Outlook will go through the server and be traceable and auditable. East Kent Housing use a dot org.uk ending on their emails.

However, the Chief Executive of East Kent Housing Deborah Upton, Former Director of Property Services Mark Anderson, Head of Customer Service Matt Gough (all pictured below) and the Chief Exec’s PA, Sarah Bateman, have used and continue to googlesuite with a  dot org ending only. Googlesuite is used by Canterbury City Council, and Thanet District Council. It was not EKH’s idea to use googlesuite as we understand. So emails sent via googlesuite would not be auditable, because emails deleted leave no audit trail – (unless google vault is switched on). So the company brought into investigate the shenanigans at East Kent Housing over the last eighteen months would not be able to recover deleted emails.

Deborah-Upton_218x242 mark-anderson matt-gough_small

Evidence has, so we have been informed by a good number of well placed sources from inside East Kent Housing and all four Councils, been deleted from the googlesuite accounts. Who by is not known.

Now as we understand all four councils were/are aware of the dot org googlesuite accounts and have, so it is alleged by well placed sources inside EKH and the all four councils, used them to communicate via the back channels, without leaving a trace on any Microsoft Exchange Server.

Now as we understand, the top brass at East Kent Housing were warned that using such a system might not be lawful. Such back channel email addresses have been used to evade FoI. However, the Information Commissioners Office has made clear that business carried out via private email accounts is subject to FOI

So how Dr Priest could sit at last night’s Overview & Scrutiny Meeting and say HQM will have “full access” is beyond us.

Now just for a moment lets say Dr Priest is telling the truth about not knowing. Then if she didn’t know why didn’t she know about this back channel? She is the Head of Paid Services and ought to know what is going on in a company our Council has a 25% stake in.  Or is Dr Priest suffering a case of wilful blindness? However she elects to answer is irrelevant.

What we can safely say is no-one will ever know the full story as persons unknown have destroyed vital evidence.  Dr Priest’s statement regarding “full access” was a hollow one to say the least, and certainly a half truth, we honestly believe. Meanwhile, Folkestone & Hythe District Council will pay a company to undertake an investigation who will never be able to present a full picture to the Overview and Scrutiny, or any other committee of the council.

The Shepwayvox Team

Dissent is NOT a Crime

About shepwayvox (1801 Articles)
Our sole motive is to inform the residents of Shepway - and beyond -as to that which is done in their name. email: shepwayvox@riseup.net

3 Comments on Half Truths by Dr Priest at Overview & Scrutiny Committee? You decide

  1. Having worked with Dr Susan Priest elsewhere, the one word which best describes her is “slippery”. She has a good diary of connections whom many have said she has favoured especially when it comes to the allocation of money. All I know is be very careful of her, she is a smooth and ruthless operator.

  2. If HQM are unable to locate relevant emails because they have been deliberately deleted those involved could also be investigated under Section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.


    Keep up the good work.

  3. How much will HQM cost and who pays? Taxpayer I guess. The shambles with Gas Certificates is a dismissal level issue, Councillors should be pushing for a resignation. This also reflects how these “professionals” view members of the public, if someone had dies due to CO poisoning?

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