Fraud conviction gives context to councillor’s desperation

Inside Croydon’s Editor STEVEN DOWNES on how some leading local Labour politicians have become enthusiastic adopters of “post-truth”

Fake: Mark Watson

Fake: Mark Watson

It was Tom Lehrer, the comedian, who famously declared that political satire was dead the day that Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Goodness knows what Lehrer would have made, then, of Inside Croydon being accused at a Town Hall meeting last night of being a “fake news” site by a councillor who was once convicted for fraud.

Mark Watson, part of Tony Newman’s Gang of Four clique which controls the Labour group on the council, may yet cause his party to lose control of the Town Hall at next May’s local elections.

Watson’s arse-covering lies and bungled handling of what passes for a “consultation” over Surrey Street might cost its chances of success in one, perhaps two wards (depending on how the election boundaries are re-drawn this year).

And his conduct in his home ward of Addiscombe has already prompted residents to form opposition groups after their lives and homes have been blighted by a traffic scheme which has disproportionately favoured the street where Watson himself lives.

Watson has never been directly accused of over-seeing the new one-way system along Lebanon Road, but as a cabinet member at the time the decision was taken, there’s a strong possibility that he will have known all about it, and yet he did nothing to inform residents of neighbouring streets what was coming their way.

Watson has got form when it comes to unenlightened self-interest when holding a publicly funded position. In the past, it got him into serious trouble, including time in jail and the loss of his civil service job.

While working for the Home Office in Croydon, Watson forged immigration documents so that his Brazilian partner could stay in Britain. He did this twice. Watson pleaded guilty to fraud and was sentenced to six months in prison in 1994.

That makes it now a “spent conviction”, but such conduct while in public office made Watson’s appointment in 2014 to be the cabinet member for law and order entirely inappropriate and a serious error of judgement by his mate, council leader Newman.

And it also provides a sharper context for proven fraudster Watson’s remarks in the Town Hall chamber last night about this website.

Watson did not mention this website by name, though it was clear to those who were at the meeting who he had in mind.

Clearly, a nerve has been touched among the Croydon’s Labour-lite hierarchy, where use of the word “Blairite” is banned, and “alternative truth” became the vogue even before Donald Trump declared that he would run for the US Presidency.

Inside Croydon has received no formal correspondence or comments from Newman or Watson to seek to correct any of our recent reports on Surrey Street or Addiscombe. They ceased to return our calls or reply to emails with questions about their conduct some time ago.

Of course, we reserve the right to take a different perspective on matters affecting the people of Croydon than the two well-paid councillors (Newman receives more than £50,000 per year from the council). But we maintain that our reporting is accurate, and true.

How Croydon Labour have been re-writing history about consultations over Surrey Street

How Croydon Labour have been re-writing history about consultations over Surrey Street

The same can’t be said of some of Newman’s and Watson’s panic-stricken recent utterings, via social media and sent to Labour activists.

Laughably, Newman, in a desperate attempted slur,  has accused this website of supporting UKIP.

Watson, meanwhile, is reduced to re-writing history after his failed efforts to bulldoze through his “vision” for Surrey Street without consulting residents or traders on Croydon’s old marketplace, which the councillor with the gentrification agenda – “pound a croissant!” – has described publicly as “tatty”.

In emails to Labour members, credit is given to Watson for the £1million investment in Surrey Street, stating that, “Last year we held a well-publicised and attended meeting with market traders, local businesses and the general public.”

But as we were told by a Surrey Street stakeholder who watched last night’s council meeting, Watson “continually perpetuates lies regarding the consultation process. When he is pushed on local resident involvement, he is dismissive.

“Are they seriously trying to say that there was any worthwhile consultation over the plans? ‘Well-publicised’? ‘Well-attended’? It’s just more lies.

“That’s the meeting where Watson forgot to invite residents and then thought posting it on Twitter with less than 48 hours’ notice was adequate. The council meeting held earlier this month only got publicised and was very well attended because a resident made it their job to inform the people who really matter.”

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in 2018 council elections, Addiscombe West, Croydon Council, Mark Watson, Surrey Street, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Fraud conviction gives context to councillor’s desperation

  1. derekthrower says:

    Surely this could have been better handled by Councillor Newman. Time to call for assistance of Councillor Kyeremeh to put ethics at the top of the agenda with Croydon Council.

  2. Rod Davies says:

    Having followed the supplied hyperlink and read the Independent’s report of Mark Watson’s conviction I find myself remembering the expressions of anguish that the Lesbian and Gay community felt being required to lie endless about the most fundamental of human impulses, that being to love. In 2017 we have largely rendered the structural homophobia to being an appalling memory of the past.

    Mark Watson broke the law to be with the person he loved. While on bail he spend his time constructively writing a guide for others in similar situation. And then he was convicted and paid the price.

    Today he would have no need for such actions. Today we, the heterosexual majority are better than that.

    Let us not forget, as Holocaust Memorial Day 2017 slips away, that many people have done desperate things that were against the law at the time. How many German and other European non-Jews lied and forged documents to preserve a loved one or friend at a time and place when it was illegal for a Jew to have any form of intimacy with a non-Jew? Today they are the heroes, the righteous, the brave. But at the time they were criminals, and if caught punished severely.
    The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act is explicit recognition of the fact that we all make mistakes, regardless of how clever we are. Our motivations are rarely that of wanting to be with the person we love. Usually it is hatred, stupidity, thoughtlessness or plain greed.

    It is also a recognition that we all may be redeemed and that we all have the potential to create good and that as a society discarding someone’s creativity because they have made a mistake is the road to intellectual and moral poverty. We should all have the humility to acknowledge that we are all susceptible to error and be generous to those that are caught to permit them the opportunity to regain their place in society and be thankful we too were not caught.

    I cannot claim Cllr Mark Watson as a friend, if he were then I would have known such much more about him. I am pleased to say he is an acquaintance.

    I see no purpose for dragging up something that happened in the past that really has no relevance today. I am simply mindful of the saying “There but for the grace of God, go I”.

    • Did Watson commit fraud? Ans: Yes.
      Did Watson commit the same fraud more than once? Ans: Yes.
      Did Watson commit the fraud for the benefit of anyone other than himself and his partner? Ans: No.

      It’s entirely possible to support equalities and rights for all, but do not be fooled into thinking that Watson was acting for the greater good here. He was no martyr.

      He was acting in his own interests, and was prepared to commit fraud despite holding a responsible position supposedly serving the public.

      Any “redemption” might be possible, if it wasn’t for his capacity for misleading the public in Croydon he now serves, apparently for the benefit of his own political position.

    • derekthrower says:

      I think you are on dodgy grounds equating the situation that Mr Watson was in with the Holocaust. I think such insensitivity may be one of the reasons why you are unable to identify a problem with the way this matter has been handled and the resentment it has created. The Labour Party are going to take a hit here for this and that is going to be the political result of this matter.

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