Mayor breaks silence to say he won’t publish #PennReport

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Part-time Perry took four days to respond to questions over the refusal to publish a controversial report, only to confirm that he is not in charge of the council. By STEVEN DOWNES

Four days after he was approached to comment on why Croydon Council has failed to act on any of the recommendations contained in the Penn Report, and part-time Mayor Jason Perry has finally broken his silence.

The Conservative Mayor was elected in May on a manifesto that promised to sweep away the malpractice and mismanagement of the previous Labour administration. But nearly six months after taking office, Perry continues to withhold the Penn Report, which was commissioned from the Local Government Association in 2020 to investigate possible wrong-doing in the lead-up to Croydon’s financial collapse.

Inside Croydon broke the news on Tuesday that LGA official Richard Penn had recommended getting the borough’s elected councillors to consider calling in the police to investigate possible misconduct in public office, as well as the possibility of trying to recover the £437,000 gold-plated pay-off handed to discredited former chief exec Jo Negrini for breach of contract.

For four days, Mayor Perry was silent, ignoring our invitation for him to comment.

Then, last night, Perry issued a statement via Twitter. There’s no mention of the Penn Report on the council’s website’s news pages, although they do give over a hunk of bandwidth to claims that Perry is cleaning up the borough (of graffiti, but not civic incompetence).

Perry’s belated response to our Penn Report revelations confirms, once again, that he may be in office, but he is not in control.

In office, but not in control: the person actually in charge of the council is on the right

Perry has failed to take decisive action and is cowering behind the excuses for non-publication and inaction offered by the council’s current chief exec, Katherine Kerswell. As Inside Croydon predicted before the Mayoral referendum, having a directly elected mayor is just #ABitLessShit.

So while The Guardian, Private Eye, the BBC London news website and The Municipal Journal have this week all followed Inside Croydon’s lead, Mayor Perry decided to stay schtum and instead rely on the dubious advice from the same council legal department that was, in some large measure, responsible for getting the borough into its current mess (albeit that the major player in that regard, lawyer Jacqueline Harris-Baker, who is much criticised in the Penn Report, has long since left the organisation).

Perry’s statement simply endorsed the policy of the previous administration, claiming concerns over threatened legal action from those named in the Penn Report.

What Perry failed to state on Twitter was that he has this week also endorsed the council’s most senior legal official, Monitoring Officer Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense, in issuing legal threats against this website and its editor.

Along with the legal threats, Lawrence-Orumwense demanded that we must return our copy of the Penn Report… thus giving yet more credence to the suggestion that the council – now supported by Mayor Perry – is actively seeking to suppress the report.

Perry’s tweet states: “Residents and businesses may be aware that a copy of the Penn Report has been leaked. The council and I cannot comment on the contents of the leaked report without risking tax-payer money through legal challenge…”.

Which is, of course, supine nonsense. The council never bats an eyelid about hiring expensive lawyers to front-up at all kinds of tribunals when it is contesting claims brought by the ill-served families of autistic children, or when trying to gag sacked whistle-blowers.

For the council to be challenged over the Penn Report, the likes of Negrini or Tony Newman would need to be prepared to face the prospect of standing up in court, possibly in front of a jury of 12 ordinary residents, and to claim that their reputation had in some way been damaged by what had been reported.

Just consider that thought for a moment.

Clearly, Jason Perry has not.

Last night, Perry wrote, “This week’s articles on the Penn Report have reminded us all of the sheer level of dysfunction and mismanagement under the previous administration.

“Those failures not only bankrupted the council, they have left a lasting legacy of financial and service destruction which we will continue to feel the effects of for years to come. Many of those financial failures have yet to be resolved, for example the potential £70million loss on Croydon Affordable Homes.

“That is why I have always been committed to the full publication of the Penn Report…”, the public want actions, Jase, not more empty words, “… once legal and other processes have been completed so as not to risk yet more tax-payer money.

“As Mayor, I am committed to resolving these issues and fixing the council’s finances. That will take time and mean difficult decisions to come but I know together as a community we can get our borough back on track.”

But Mayor Perry ain’t publishing the Penn Report.

So it looks like Inside Croydon will have to do so, in the interests of the people of Croydon.

Read more: #PennReport wanted police probe into possible misconduct
Read more: Men who led council to bankruptcy say they did nothing wrong
Read more: #PennReport: Council’s 11th hour attempt to suppress findings
Read more: #PennReport: Croydon has been let down by political leaders
Read more: #PennReport: Hall and Negrini ‘only wanted good news stories’

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 Crime, Croydon Council, Jacqueline Harris-Baker, Jo Negrini, Katherine Kerswell, Mayor Jason Perry, Report in the Public Interest, Simon Hall, Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense, The Penn Report, Tony Newman and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Mayor breaks silence to say he won’t publish #PennReport

  1. Looks like Mayor Perry is set on reversing the old journalistic mantra into ‘don’t publish and be damned.’. He seems like the little boy with his finger stuck in the dyke trying to stem the tide of public reaction. Clearly intelligence was not a prerequisite for becoming Mayor of Croydon.

  2. Publish and be damned!

  3. Just what is this effing ‘legal advice’? Let’s see it and have it tested

    • Sarah Bird says:

      Who has paid for the legal advice ? If the council ,via the residents ,surely it is disclosure able ?Who was instructed to act ?

  4. Just what is Jason Perry for?

    I had hoped that when we got an elected mayor it would be someone with the ambition energy and drive of Andy Burnham, like him or loathe. him. Instead we have someone who comes over as a master of inertia, inaction and prevarication.

    Why the Penn Report should not be published. Doing so would finally enable electors of this borough to see where their money and hopes have gone and who is responsible.

    Inside Croydon has been doing this for ages but many (silly) people are still suspicious of Inside Croydon and feel there is some sort of hidden agenda at work.

    Publishing the Penn Report, coming as it does from a neutral and impartial source, would end that fear for once and all.

    Not publishing leaves the Mayor appearing to be unwilling to risk upsetting current and previous members of the council as well as senior officers past and present There appears to be more regard for this audience than for the voters of Croydon.

    • Matthew P says:

      He’s a typical Tory paperweight. Just there to take up spade while doing the bidding of those above him and their paymasters.

  5. Pingback: Mayor breaks silence saying he won’t release #PennReport – Law Glitz

  6. Martin Rosen says:

    I can see the problem.

    Perry’s primary responsibility is to rebuild the Council’s financial position, and the last thing he needs to do is to commit the Council to potentially ruinous legal costs in DEFENDING against legal challenges from Newman and others, let alone to reserve a great deal of money against the risk of LOSING that legal action and thereby (at least) paying Newman’s costs.

    On the other hand it is my belief that publication of the full Report is in the public interest, as would be the bringing of criminal and other charges against Newman and his helpers.

    Somehow, Croydon Council needs to acquire guarantees of funds to protect it against the possible results (however unlikely!) of publishing the Penn Report. Can crowd-funding be used for that purpose? Or can the readers of Inside Croydon get together to raise sufficient guarantees (I’m willing to contribute to that)? Or perhaps wealthy individuals (are you listening, Chris Philp?) might form a consortium?

    As things stand, I don’t believe it’s fair to castigate Perry – he’s damned if he does publish, and damned if he doesn’t.

    • G says:

      Do the Council not have indemnity insurance??

      • probably not – they’re more likely to be ‘self insured’ . In any case, a standard condition would be not to go against professional legal advice when taking decisions. In Croydon’s case I use the term ‘professional’ for illustrative purposes only

  7. Surely any authority the Council and Councillors have derives from us, the electorate, voting for them. Therefore, unless there is some overwhelming reason, surely the presumption should be that anything done on behalf of the Council should be published and enter the public domain however embarrassing it might be.

    This matter of the way the Borough was run in the past has dragged on for far too long. It’s about time it was resolved.

  8. David Bryce says:

    Publish, transparency, Penn Report, public interest, now.

    If Perry is incapable of completing a sentence containing the above words, all support for him will fall away rapidly.

  9. Eugene Regan says:

    If there is a threat of legal action against Inside Croydon, happy to support crowdfunding

  10. G says:

    You do realise they are ‘all in it together’, that is why. One down all down.

  11. Colin Cooper says:

    If publication of the Penn Report would lead to recovery of any of our wasted tax payers monies, do it! I’d love to see the previous incumbents in court to explain their actions!

  12. John Kohl says:

    Can’t the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government override any decision made locally not to publish and order the Penn Report’s publication?

    Of course, there may be political reasons why the Secretary of State may not wish to order publication of the report, but I would be surprised if the Communities Secretary doesn’t have the power to force publication of the report.

  13. derekthrower says:

    Is Jason “Part-Time” Perry soon going to employ a public relations company to try and limit his reputational damage? Far more cheaper to just resign now and save himself from the reputation of being Tony Newman Mk.II

    • He already has the support of “PR expert”… checks notes… Mario Creatura

    • Ian Kierans says:

      I am amused with what has been put out – so much so that there is at least a good 1 hour program length of funny rebuttals to his claims.
      I mean who gets rid of free graffiti removers and then has the new mayor pictured removing graffiti that would not be there except for
      ”foot in mouth” decision making of this Council?

      Who publicises moving on the homeless and then everyone can see them a street away and then they return two days later?
      Who publicies street cleaning and despite apparent cleaning the same large piece of cloth has been on the kerb of London road at the entrance to west Croydon station car park?
      No matter what Mr Perry and Creatua put out we can see the reality just walking down the road.
      People should get a bit modern and pop a photo of the opposite to contradict his statement on all social media sites.

  14. Ian Kierans says:

    The issue really here is not the Penn Report. Mr Penn from the LGA did sterling work in examining what went on. But his findings have as yet not been tested. We are also in the dark as to what his findings where. We are also in the dark as to whether this Administration has followed them up and is taking action within appropriate time frames.
    Now bearing in mind the years that have passed and that there are still people at this Council who were involved, that is not a satisfactory position to be in.

    Yes the Council could publish the report and be dammed and taxpayers could foot the bill for libel trials if they have been proven to have libeled anyone.

    But the options are to,
    1. Act on its recommendations including involving the Police, Serious Fraud office, Government Auditor and Regulator and seeking a legal decision of wrongdoing.
    2. Remove names and publish what actually happened without the who and the impacts on residents for the next generation being very clear.
    3. Hold a Public Inquiry in tandem with a Police review – so it can be clear which elements belong in which legal arena – if any

    To attempt to do matters piecemeal leads to long delays and loss of critical testimony and evidence. It damages this and future administrations reputation (as it has done to this one now). It gives affected people the perception of a cover up going on.

    But probably the worst effect is that residents have to live with the fallout. The damage to residents lives and the long term impacts on their health and children’s development is the sad reality of those impacts.

    Ask Regina Road residents, ask any resident living beside a perfectly legal development where this council failed to prevent or enforce not only building regulations in a timely manner but failed to even check that planning conditions had been met before premises were occupied. Ask the people waiting for an Ambulance and ending up with long term damage due to delays in receiving treatment, as this council has failed to enforce parking in the evenings and weekends and the roads and access are blocked. Ask the children without safe places like libraries to learn in or youth clubs to go to and end up bullied into County lines or postcode gangs, ask those families who have had children victims of gang and knife crime, sadly the list goes on.

    Sitting and delaying action does not help anyone. It does not allow the Town to move forward and regenerate.

    All it does is is give a perception that this Executive has a set of a corporate sociopathic tendencies in the manner it is carrying matters out.

    It is a sad fact that deprived areas have more anti social acts and behaviors. It is also a fact that serious crime is linked to those same areas. It is also evident that many wards in Croydon have increasing crime rates.

    The Police can only do so much. It is incumbent on local and municipal authorities to provide safe boroughs for families and communities to grow in safety and with good service provision.
    To do this require effective communication, open and responsive leadership, public accountability, a willingness to work with all (not just ”chosen”) and for all.

Leave a Reply