“Sir” Tricky Dicky Ottaway, the Tory MP who dislikes his Croydon South constituency so much he has spent more than 20 years living outside it (nonetheless while making expenses claims for the majority of that time amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds for a second home), last night called out the police – because some of his constituents visited him to hand over a petition.
Former Royal Navy officer Ottaway was apparently fearful for his personal safety, and so refused to come out and meet the group, which numbered less than a dozen and included one 81-year-old OAP.
In a twisted irony, the handful of constituents who were exercising their constitutional right to lobby their elected representative to parliament wanted to ask for Ottaway’s support against his ConDem government’s Gagging Bill, which they say would stop charities and campaign groups from speaking out on some of the most important issues facing the country and the planet.
Ottaway, who was knighted in the New Year’s dishonours, was so shocked that as many as… wait for it … 11 of his constituents turned up on the doorstep of his constituency office at Purley that he was straight on the phone to dial 999. Presumably, the old Tory grandee wanted the Riot Act read to them, or at least have them re-directed across the road to Tesco.
This is the same Ottaway who in the past fortnight has been speaking to the media at every opportunity on behalf of his old Tory MP chum, Andrew Mitchell, to criticise the police over their handling of the Plebgate affair. It remains uncertain whether the likes of Mitchell, or indeed Ottaway, have yet had the word “pleb” removed from their daily vocabulary.
The constituents had arrived to attend the MP’s scheduled monthly surgery at his Purley office, which was due to start at 5pm. Ottaway refused to come outside to talk to the group, who are among 161,000 people nationally who have signed a petition against the Lobbying Bill. By 5.40pm, Ottaway’s chore of meeting with his constituents was over, as far as he was concerned, and he was off in his car back to his £1 million country pile in Bletchingley.
According to Jon Bigger, one of those who tried to meet his MP but instead had a meeting with some of the Met’s finest, “There were actually 11 of us from a range of political persuasions and the average age was well into the 50s. Did he really think this bunch were a personal threat?
“One lady was 81 and totally livid that he wouldn’t let us in. He also refused to have a photo taken with us. It’s a bit ironic that we couldn’t effectively lobby our MP about lobbying.
“Ottaway did chat a little on the way to his car and he ‘reassured’ us that the only reason we were left outside was because he feared being murdered in his own office. He cited several attacks and murders on MPs in his lifetime. To be fair to him the 81-year-old did have a dangerous look in her eyes. I wonder why anyone would want to murder their MP…
“You don’t often hear of retired constituents in Tory areas booking a slot in an MP’s diary just to finish them off. I should stress that he did say he would meet us if we booked a slot individually so that his staff could check us out in advance to make sure we’re safe.
“The one person who was allowed in to deliver the petition reported back that when they pointed out that 11 of his constituents had come out in the cold to see him and therefore it showed the importance of the issue, he replied by saying something about the tens of thousands who hadn’t turned up.
“I hate to think what he would have done if they had. Maybe the SAS would have stormed us? But more importantly it suggests he counts the apathetic as being on his side. Perhaps they are.
“After a few minutes the police decided to go,” Bigger said.
“As they left, I warned them that with such a hotbed of radicals on the pavement it could kick off at any moment. But they ignored me and drove away.”
Ottaway won’t be standing at the 2015 General Election. After getting caught with his hand in the MPs’ expenses cookie jar in 2009, he was forced to agree to retire in order to secure his re-selection by the local Conservative Party for 2010. In 2015, the Croydon South Conservatives will instead be represented by a millionaire businessman and Tory Party donor, Chris Philp, who also has no firm connections with Croydon.
Ottaway’s office might wish to note that, in fact, the last British MP to be murdered was Ian Gow, who was killed in an IRA assassination nearly a quarter of a century ago with a bomb planted under his car. As he was allowed to leave his constituency office last night without being charged with wasting police time, Ottaway was not seen to check under his vehicle.
- Click here to visit the 38 Degrees website and its peaceful petition against the Gagging Law
- Right? Honourable? Ottaway’s expenses easily forgotten
- Arise Sir Tricky Dicky Ottaway – Croydon’s dark knight
Coming to Croydon
- Croydon Ramblers, Chelsham walk, Jan 19
- Croydon Roller Derby trials, Jan 19
- STDLCC Screening: The East, Jan 20
- South Croydon Heritage Trail meeting, Jan 20
- STDLCC Screening: Winter Nomads, Jan 27
- Renaming ceremony for Lake Conan Doyle, Feb 1
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Feb 3
- Babylon at the Spread Eagle Theatre, Feb 4-6
- Steve Knightly at Stanley Halls: Feb 5
- Purley Swimathon: Feb 8 and 13
- Mark Steel at Ashcroft Theatre, Feb 12
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Feb 20
- Mr Pooter comes to Croydon, Feb 20-22
- Stop the Incinerator fund-raiser, Feb 24
- Coulsdon and Purley Debating Society, Mar 3
- Norwood Society talk, Upper Norwood Library, Mar 20
- If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com