#KerswellBallsFund: We need your help to fight the council

By STEVEN DOWNES, Editor, Inside Croydon

Croydon Council is trying to silence Inside Croydon.

Last week, they tried to get an injunction at the High Court to stop us publishing documents which the council had already placed in the public domain on its own website.

The judge in the case described the council’s actions as like “trying to put the genie back in the bottle”.

But the council is still coming after us, and they are looking to get Inside Croydon to pay all their legal costs – estimated as being at least £20,000 – and all incurred because they want to cover-up their own errors and mistakes, and to gag the local press.

This is not just a Croydon matter, but this is a case which could set an important precedent for freedom of speech for other publishers across the country – and allow feckless local authorities another avenue to blocking news about their mismanagement from being made public.

Inside Croydon has already uncovered the report into potential wrong-doing which the council’s chief executive, Katherine Kerswell, has refused to release to the public for nearly two years. Kerswell’s now spending more public money to try to track down how the Penn Report was leaked.

Court 13: the council continues to pursue its High Court case against Inside Croydon

On November 28, we are due to go back to the Royal Courts of Justice to listen to expensive barristers hired by the cash-strapped council to try to argue how documents which the council itself published can somehow be made “confidential” again.

If the judge is convinced by these arguments, they might gag Inside Croydon and award costs against us.

That’s why today we have set up the KerswellBalls Fund, a legal fighting fund to help pay for our own legal representation and any costs awarded against us.

We are optimistic about our case – Mr Justice Nicklin’s comments last Thursday made it plain what he thought of the council’s position. And we have now had the opportunity to engage a legal adviser to guide us through the choppy waters of a High Court legal case.

Now we just need your help. This test case is in some respects an opportunity to give senior council officials a lesson in listening to you, the Croydon public.

And any money which is collected through this fund-raiser and not used for legal costs will be donated to local homelessness charities for Christmas.

Thanks for your interest in Inside Croydon and your support.

To donate to the KerswellBalls Fund, click here

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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in #KerswellBalls Fund, Croydon Council, Inside Croydon, Katherine Kerswell, Report in the Public Interest, RIPI II: Fairfield Halls, Stephen Lawrence-Orumwense, The Penn Report and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to #KerswellBallsFund: We need your help to fight the council

  1. Ian Ross says:

    Why are the council squandering our money on this type of nonsense where clearly there is no case to answer? Where is the honest legal advice which says they have no leg to stand on? Kerswell was supposed to sort this appalling mess out yet seems to be embroiled in it. If anyone should be sued it is Croydon Council.
    Fight the good fight. Donation on it’s way.

  2. Terence Doherty says:

    I sometimes wonder who the Council is working for??
    I’m a resident. I want a full and open disclosure. Warts and All. And I’d like it published.. with no more of my money spent. Best of British at the High Court

  3. Dave Bryce says:

    Kerswell came in as a stand-in / temporary CE and before we knew it, she liked it so much, she applied for the full-time appointment.

    This was hugely disappointing at the time as Croydon needed the net to be cast far and wide; the borough has been damaged by high level ‘in-house’ appointments in the past (Negrini, Head of Place Cheesbrough and countless others) and here’s Kerswell repeating history.

    The Penn Report should have been made public from the outset. Kerswell has no right to keep such an important document from the public.

    I believe she has kept it under wraps because of a racial / employment claim against her, personally. If that is the case, Kerswell should resign and deal with the claim separately. Democracy and Openess in Croydon should not be put on hold because it doesn’t suit Kerswell’s personal timetable.

    Why is it many other London Boroughs have engaged, publicly accessible, media-savvy, interesting CE’s and we have Katherine Kerswell? Why does Croydon always have to have second best?

    But the really important thing is how dare she try to silence Inside Croydon, which is the only platform Croydon residents have to scrutinise and debate what’s happening in the council and in our borough. Croydon Council is renowned for its opaqueness, its lack of transparency and unheathly desire to control the release of information.

    Its communications are the worst in London. Want to find out when your bin collection is, fine, that information is available. But want to find out the structure and future structure of the council leadership, their plans and proposals and their performance and a veil descends from above.

    Local government is nothing without transparency, openess, and an ear and voice to residents. On the basis of that I want Croydon Council to embrace Inside Croydon and remove Katherine Kerswell from her post.

    Quantify the good IC does for Croydon residents and quantify the good Katherine Kerswell has done for our borough and its no contest.

    PS – this is also a message to the new Mayor, who I and many others worked tirelessly to elect.

  4. Ian Bridge says:

    Surely any sensible Judge will dismiss this and order the council to pay your costs and bear their own. Absolute joke..

    • Indeed, Ian. And that’s got to be the hope.

      But then again, any sensible council would not have set out on this course of action in the first place, after they had published the documents themselves.

      In the meantime, we have to prepare for the worst-case scenario, while preparing our case and hoping that the judge on November 28 will follow the guidance offered last week by Mr Justice Nicklin.

  5. derekthrower says:

    Well it will be fun to find out the legal precedent Croydon Council are using to prevent publication of something they published themselves for several weeks. Perhaps Mr Lawrence-Orumwense is a legal genius who has found the legal ruling where you do indeed put the genie back into the bottle. Have a funny feeling that he isn’t though. Good luck.

    • Sue Williams says:

      We can say one thing for certain, Mr L-O is not a legal genius.

      Does anyone know where he studied law and what his experience is other than other low-hitting local authorities?

  6. Ian Bridge says:

    According to Companies House, he was Director of several companies. Only just resigned from one. Assuming it is the same person of course.

    • As we reported when his appointment was announced: https://insidecroydon.com/2022/04/10/council-names-new-legal-chief-as-exec-churn-continues/

      It seems that Katherine Kerswell, the council chief exec, may have rescued Lawrence-Orumwense from spending his declining years as a Dartford estate agent. Why it took “SLO” six months to get around to resigning his directorship of what was supposed to be a dormant mail order company is anyone’s guess.

      But isn’t it grand that these matters of legitmate public interest are in the public domain thanks to the hard-work and dedication of the public servants at Companies House? What a refreshing change.

  7. Emma Birkett says:

    Disgraceful actions once again from a council whose default position seems to be ‘protect the rear whatever the cost’. As if their incompetence hasn’t already cost us enough. Will be keeping a close eye on this one, freedom of the press is a keystone of a functioning democracy! Keep up the good fight!

Leave a Reply