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Breaking: council finally opens fraud investigation into cash co run by right-wing Liverpool councillors

BICo fraud concerns broken exclusively by Skwawkbox now subject of investigation into alleged fraud and corruption

Almost two years ago, in February 2021, Skwawkbox exclusively broke news of serious questions raised about the dealings of the cash-only car-park company Beautiful Ideas Co (BICo), which was run by right-wing Liverpool councillors Nick Small, Steve Munby and Ann O’Byrne, supposedly to raise money to benefit the local community. Among the numerous issues were potential under-reporting of car park receipts and BICo’s donation of £20,000 to an organisation to employ O’Byrne’s daughter.

Last month, again exclusively, Skwawkbox revealed that Merseyside Police had told councillors from the Liverpool Community Independents (LCI) group that there were ‘real concerns’ about fraud in BICo’s dealings – and had asked them to raise the issue with the ‘Action Fraud’ taskforce.

The LCI councillors also demanded the suspension of the councillors involved in the company, but no such action was taken by city mayor Joanne Anderson or party leader Keir Starmer and the council was accused of a cover-up when the councillors’ names did not appear in its long-withheld report on BICo’s activities.

But today, the council has announced an investigation into complaints alleging ‘fraud’ and ‘corruption’ at BICo, though local reporting again does not name the three councillors involved in the company, who were said by Labour insiders to be allies of the mayor’s faction. A fourth complaint, against a further councillor, has also been registered – but even now, the mayor has apparently not named, in the paperwork made public, any of the councillors involved.

LCI group leader Cllr Anna Rothery welcomed the decision to launch an investigation, but said that she hoped the mayor would ‘stand firm’ and ‘leave no stone unturned’. Deputy group leader Cllr Alan Gibbons, however, repeated the group’s call for an independent investigation, pointing out that after four years of inaction and obfuscation the council,

should not be marking its own homework. The issues here are extremely concerning. If the City Council is to be reset on an open and honest basis it is vital it holds elected members to account for possible breaches.

However, no suspension of the three BICo councillors has been announced.

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36 comments

  1. Oh dear I smell a rat?…coverup time by those who police their own cesspit of corruption and criminality…?IT would seem good news but it’s more likely that they are tired of being looked at and wish to exonerate themselves in the new labour party were villians are a asset.

  2. Are the old bill/CPS waiting for their mates to clear them the outcome of this whitewash investigation before deciding what to do, or what?

    Be highly improper if they are

  3. There was a recent arrest and house search in connection with suspected fraud at Liverpool council.

    ” “The woman has been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and breaches under the Data Protection Act.
    “The arrest took place at an address in Aigburth earlier today (Monday October 31 2022) and the woman has been taken to a police station where she is being interviewed by detectives.”
    In an updated statement issued at 4pm today, a Merseyside Police spokesperson confirmed the woman had been released on bail. The spokesperson said: “A 47-year-old woman arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office, conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and breaches under the Data Protection Act as part of an ongoing investigation, has been released on conditional bail pending further inquiries.”

    https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/woman-arrested-fraud-probe-after-25400087

    1. SteveH
      When I first read the article in the Echo I was wondering if that had anything to do with the BICo investigation.

    2. Public office holders includes appointed officials as well as elected ones. No good speculating on who it might be. We need a leak or a prosecution before we find out.

    3. It has since been reported that the investigation has been extended to include 5 councillors.
      https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/controversial-match-day-cash-company-25552505
      “Last week it was confirmed an investigation had been launched into the conduct of individuals following the publication of a Liverpool Council internal audit report about the Beautiful Ideas company (BICo). It has now been revealed that probe has been extended to assess five members of the local authority.”

  4. The ‘cross-over’ between public bodies and commercial ‘for-profit’ enterprises is the centre-piece, the kernel, of the corruption accusations here. Anna Rothery’s Liverpool Community Independents and Skwawkbox have been making this as clear and obvious as the nose on your face.

    Why is this not being publicised and investigated further by a wider investigative press? Why, in other words, are the Great British public not being informed about this possible corruption?

    Principally, maybe, because the MSM is intentionally positioning the anti-democratic Starmer regime as ‘the government in waiting’ and, secondly, because (as Chilean history affirms) neoliberal political agents need to foster corporate, commercial partners/stakeholders. Sure, BICo might not be a BP, a British Gas or an AstraZeneca yet; but it isn’t even about a ‘mighty oaks from small acorns’ scenario, it is about Starmer’s Labour showing the corporate world that they’re good global-capitalist neoliberals – despite Labour’s immediate past!

    1. I’d trust Streeting less with the NHS than his Tory counterpart, especially were Labour get a decent majority to railroad things through in the manner Blair’s govt did introducing marketisation.

      The press, unions, NHS staff and Labour MPs are primed to react should the Tories seek to further involve the private sector, and the Tories know they’re very vulnerable to such accusations. Whereas Streeting would be given a free pass by those listed above, on the assumption Labour wouldn’t weaken the idea of a centrally funded health service.

      1. Reply to Steve H
        I agree with Andy more than I agree with you. The fact is neither of them are to be trusted with the NHS but at least we know that Barclay is a Tory and Tory policy is to run down and privatise the NHS.
        Streeting is far less honest about the NHS than Barclay. With Streeting what you see is NOT what you get, He is faux Labour – a Tory is all but name- and given that you cannot believe a word Keir Starmer says about anything any reassurances about the NHS coming from him or his shadow Cabinet are completely worthless.

      2. Beware anyone who talks about their commitment to having the NHS “free at the point of delivery”.
        Google translate translates this as “privatised”.

      3. goldbach – Isn’t that what Jeremy Corbyn promised? 🤔

      4. @SteveH et al

        The Tory agenda imho, has always been to run down public services : Railways, NHS etc to the point where the public think there is something fundamentally bad / dysfunctional with govt or public sector delivering public services through collective taxation. Thus the public are softened up to accept more private involvement.

        They are wretched shyster bunch indeed. But the likes of Reeves, Starmer and Streeting are all on board with the same neoliberal agenda and taking funding from the same hidden paymasters behind the scenes who are funding the Tories. And they too will push the same hidden agenda albeit while pretending they aren’t.

        Under Corbyn, for all his faults , you had a man like like Brazil’s Lula da Silva , a man who believes in the public sector and wants it to polish it to shine, not run it down to justify private involvement.

      5. Jeremy Corbyn was clearly wrong. It isn’t Rishi Sunak’s head that he lives rent free in.

      6. @goldbach

        To listen to Sunak going on about Corbyn at PMQs for sitting down with Hezbollah and Hamas- almost spitting their names out was plain nauseating. No supporter of the tactics of either, but who would Sunak vote for if he and his family were stuck in Gaza without hope under Israeli blockade? Zero empathy from these people for the plight of Palestinians.

        The hypocrite then went on to talk about Ukraine resisting ‘occupiers’ with British proudly supplied weapons and training. They really don’t see their own hypocrisy, do they?

        Youy just know that Starmer would use the same attack lines against Corbyn too. Westminster isn’t fit for purpose,.

      7. Reply to Andy at 7.42 pm
        What ” faults” did you find with Jeremy Corbyn. He faced a daily barrage of lies and smears from the BBC the MSM Zionists and the establishment which a gullible public swallowed. The PLP set out to undermine and humiliate him on a daily basis queueing up at the TV stations to do so .Southside actively worked against him going so far as to lock him out of the building and disable his computer access on election night 2017.
        So what were his “all his faults” Andy. You have posted similarly on previous occasions and I’d be interested to know what you think they are because in my opinion he is a man of steel who did as much and more than could be reasonably expected of any person in the circumstances.

  5. Guardian reporting tonight no one wants to do Starmer’s dirty work taking on Corbyn in Islington North.

    Why, oh why, doesn’t he start a new party? What has he got to lose, he’s near retirement anyways even if he did lose. His leadership generated political enthusiasm in 2015 – 2019, in a way New Labour clearly can’t. Due to the power of social media, I think it could snowball into a major force. it’s worth remembering how Paul Mason was arguing against it publicly, but preparing to attack it privately.

    They know the man has the credibility to be a threat. Look how Lula emerged from Prison to make a comeback.

    1. Andy – I doubt that Corbyn will stand as an independent, why would he take the risk? I think that the best that Corbyn can hope for is a back-room deal where he has the Labour whip restored on the condition that he stands down at the next GE.

      1. What risk is there? He probably feels unfairly treated and humiliated at the moment.

        He’s near retirement. A new leftist party’s growth could force a Labour rethink on PR, or give the left a greater voice in Labour, as they’d have to try to counter with more shad cab representation plus leftist policies. Sitting in parliament as an independent seems pointless. We’ve currently got no party in the HoC opposing arming Ukraine to the teeth, no one urging a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution – the UK’s is not a healthy democracy at all .

      2. Andy – Apart from a distinct lack of support, what’s stopping you?

      3. You keep saying Why would he take the risk? As I’ve said before, what risk is there, in a constituency where he has a rock-solid majority?

    2. Andy
      Jeremy knows how hard it is for a new party to survive – SDP Respect Ukip etc all crashed and burned.
      Any new Left party is going to need TU support and funding which we haven’t got yet. Without this it would fail.
      The Right want us to jump in feet first, be wiped out and never recover. That’s why their Trolls come on this site every day and urge us leave Starmers Labour and set up a new party.
      While I truly hope that eventually we will be able to form a new Left party, timing and financial backing are most important and we need to have everything in place before we make our move if we are to have any chance of succeeding.

      1. @Smartboy

        I get your point. Yes, no doubt some on the right may be posting urging a new party to split the vote – but many of those trolls on the right really believe Starmer is secretly a left-winger. Hopefully most here aren’t suffering that same delusion?

        I honestly believe the Starmer/Reeves combo + authoritarian and hawkish shad cab Streeting, John Healey et al are potentially worse than a Tory govt.

        Everything Starmer has done to date; from the rigging of near every PPC selection, the Corbyn suspension ;conference control freakery ; the expulsions; appointment of Evans, the dumping of the 10 pledges; bring in Mandelson etc, makes perfect sense if you accept he’s a Tory establishment plant. The situation really is that dire and those in denial need to come to their senses. We need to oppose this Blairite monstrosity with a new party.

      2. Reply to Andy
        I agree with your comments about Starmer and those around him but in my opinion the Trolls posting on this site are largely Starmer supporting.
        Their aim is to diminish the voting power of the Left by getting those of us who haven’t been expelled to resign and also to encourage the formation of a new party( enabling further expulsions or resignations) in the certainty that without TU backing that party will fail and the Left will be consigned to oblivion for the foreseeable future. That is Starmers main objective and the Trolls are paid to help him achieve it.

      3. Maybe so, I dunno? I don’t doubt they’d like to whittle the membership down further and rely on corporate donors over the unions once in power.

        They’re such bad actors and currently so dominant, the PLP left is on its knees too scared to say boo, members are even less influential and unwanted, thus sticking around seems pointless.

        They won’t succeed in power btw, they bang on about “growth, growth, growth” – just as soon as Jack gets back from the market with those magic beans presumably? If they were talking about rejoining the EU, or EEA, EFTA that’d be interesting, but they’re not proposing anything radical.

        On a note of optimism, I think the yearning for what Corbyn brought is still strong, the financial predicament may offer opportunities for a leftist alternative in the next few years. But if Corbyn retires before establishing it, who else has the name recognition? That’s the dilemma too.

      4. Reply to Andy
        I don’t think Jeremy will retire – why should he. He’s fit and healthy- he cycles everywhere- is doing a great job as an MP ,is much loved and admired by his constituents and by socialists at home and abroad. His enemies both in the party and outside it still fear him and the massive support he has. That’s why they continue their vicious campaign against him.
        If Starmer doesn’t restore the whip before the next election Jeremy may choose to step down – that’s not the same as retiring, its being forced out – or he may decide to stand as an independent MP.
        Either way he has shown that he a great statesman, a strong and decent man who stood up for what he believed in and who could neither be bought or bullied into towing the Establishment and/or Zionist lines.

    3. My theory (hope) is that there is already a plan for a new party well in motion, but it has to go public at the right time to get teh publicity at the right moment before an impending election, 6 to 8 months before IMO would be about right, get everyone to join, get the money in place get the candidates in place in key Labour marginals and the constituencies of all the usual suspects, streeting, philips etc. if nothing else it will put the fear of god into em, and make me smile a lot, and if as the odious SH points out he stands a chance of losing anyway, nothing to lose, get jeremy on the road again and get us on the streets again, compare and contrast with starmers crowds, and the MSM will have to give airtime, all good.

      1. mrmoose66 – The TUSC tried something similar in 2015 and it didn’t go quite as well as they hoped it would.

        In 2015 the TUSC put up 135 parliamentary candidates and secured 0.1% of the popular vote. No parliamentary seats were gained and they all lost their deposits.
        They also fielded 650 local government candidates, they gained no seats (and, in one ward, no votes) and lost three anti-cuts councillors in Leicester and Hull. On a more positive note they managed to retain 5 affiliated councillors. One each in Warrington, Walsall and Hull, and two in Southampton

  6. JC represents ideas that completely overturn the past 46 years of neoliberal nonsense that has brought our country down. That is the real danger to the Establishment. That threat has to be identified as a person because ideas are dangerous, and it is easier to paint a person with falsehoods, than argue against ideas that might capture people’s imaginations and overturn the propaganda and falsities of our rulers.
    Other than that, Labour, as presently constituted, is a political liability to progressive people.

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