Tory minister is member of online group that salutes vandals

Party of law and order: Chris Philp is among almost 2,000 members of a secret Facebook group that regularly applauds acts of criminal damage

EXCLUSIVE: A secret Facebook group where members celebrate criminal vandalism carried out against ULEZ cameras is being run by the Tory Mayor of Croydon. By STEVEN DOWNES

The Tory Government’s policing minister, Chris Philp, the MP for Croydon South, is a member of a social media group in which criminal acts, damage and vandalism to public property are celebrated on a near-daily basis.

Philp, a member of the King’s Privy Council for the past year, has confirmed that he has failed to post anything on the private Facebook page to condemn the criminality and, when he was contacted about his membership of “Croydon say no to ULEZ expansion”, he could only offer as an excuse: “I cannot be held responsible for what other people post on Facebook groups which I do not administer.”

Which is a bit awkward for Philp’s colleagues in Croydon Conservatives. The group admin for “Croydon say no to ULEZ expansion” is Croydon’s Tory Mayor, Jason Perry.

Vandals strike: a severely damaged lamppost in New Addington, which drew support from Perry’s secret Facebook group

The 2,000-member group devotes most of its activities to publicising the criminal damage inflicted on the cameras and public infrastucture installed for the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

“Croydon say no to ULEZ expansion” occupies one of the darker, murkier corners of the interweb, which is full of blatantly bogus conspiracy theories, racists and Islamophobes, anti-vax and anti-mask cranks, and out-and-out Trump supporters.

“Croydon say no to ULEZ” is a secret group.

It operates as a private Facebook group, which means that its admins pick and choose who gets to access its pages. The Editor of Inside Croydon’s application to join the group never received even the courtesy of a response (how rude!).

Undaunted, journalists from this website have been monitoring the output from this particular cesspit and screengrabbing a wide range of incriminating material over the course of the past month.

“Croydon say no to ULEZ expansion” describes Jason Perry, Croydon’s £84,000 per year Mayor, as a “group expert”.

Last month, ULEZ was extended to cover most of Greater London, including Croydon. Figures from the Metropolitan Police suggest that at least 500 of the ULEZ enforcement cameras – reckoned to cost around £50,000 each – have suffered damage or vandalism.

Criminal damage: acts such as these are a laughing matter on Jason Perry’s secret Facebook group

Neighbouring borough Bromley has been particularly badly affected by the anti-ULEZ vandals, with 17 cameras damaged along one two-mile stretch of road. Bromley, like Croydon, is a Conservative-controlled local council. Bromley was one of the Tory-run boroughs that spent nearly £1million of public money on a High Court challenge against ULEZ, and lost.

You probably won’t be surprised to discover that there’s a Bromley Facebook group, called “Bromley say no to ULEZ expansion”, too. The Bromley group has almost twice as many members as in Perry and Philp’s Croydon page.

They all have the same schtick.

Members have posted photographs of traffic lights and lampposts which have been bent over or cut in two, and cameras which have had their lenses covered with spray paint, all in an effort by the vandals to prevent them performing the legal function of monitoring passing vehicles.

On the Croydon page, someone posted “Keep up the good work” beneath a picture of some serious criminal damage to a ULEZ camera. That was posted last month. Apart from a few poor taste and unfunny jokes about the wind (guffaw!), no one appears to have condemned the illegal actions, nor reproached those who revel in them.

“Abuse is mandatory,” was another comment posted in response to one member’s boast that they had shouted at Transport for London contractors while they were conducting repairs to an ANPR camera in South Croydon that had been subject to repeated attacks.

The comments are unrelentingly in favour of the vandalism and criminal damage, which is costing Londoners millions of pounds. And no one from the long-ish list of group admins ever appears to step in to stop the vandal-fest. They certainly don’t appear to deter or ban images that salute, perhaps even encourage, such criminal conduct.

Scroll of dishonour: six admins, including the ‘group expert’, but none seem capable of condemning blatant acts of criminal vandalism

Pro-pollution Perry is not the only group admin. There are others involved, too, who are also from what regards itself as the “party of law and order”.

They include Luke Shortland, a Conservative councillor for Coulsdon (he’s been an admin of the group since January this year). Shortland’s day job is in the communications team at the Greater London Authority.

Curiously, last week when journalists approached Croydon Council’s press office for a comment from Mayor Perry about his involvement in the secret Facebook group, the reply did not come from the Town Hall, but from Councillor Shortland.

Other admins for “Croydon say no to ULEZ” include Perry’s son, William, a Tory Party youth official. James Hillam, a one-time Conservative Party council election candidate in Croydon, is also listed as an admin.

And so is Rachel Cromie, a Tory councillor in Mid-Sussex who just happens to be an employee of the Conservative Party.

Careful checking failed to find any trace of condemnation of the criminal acts on the Facebook group from either government minister Chris Philp or Mayor Perry.

The group’s members do not appear to have been restricted in any way by Perry or his fellow page admins, as they provide a platform for an online celebration of vandalism to public property.

When approached last week, policing minister Philp said, “I completely condemn law-breaking and criminal damage, including in relation to ULEZ cameras (much though I disagree with ULEZ itself).

“I have already publicly stated my opposition to, and condemnation of, criminal damage to ULEZ cameras, including on national radio on August 31. I cannot be held responsible for what other people post on Facebook groups which I do not administer, or be expected to reply to hundreds or thousands of other people’s comments on social media platforms.”

Crime watch: Croydon Tories Perry and Philp have done little or nothing in their group to condemn widespread vandalism

For his part, group admin Perry also trotted out a line about condemning criminal acts, even though he had failed to do any condemning of such acts on the page where he is “group expert”.

“I disagree with any and all criminal damage and violence,” said the Croydon Mayor. “The illegal acts of vandalism or letting down car tyres are wrong, no matter whether you are protesting against ULEZ or a member of Just Stop Oil.”

Perry, not sounding in any way pompous at all, blamed his “moderating team” for the poor moderating of the Facebook group. “My moderating team do their best to remove any posts which break the rules – but they are volunteers and cannot be expected to catch every comment.”

He then went on to claim that, “The rules for the Facebook group clearly say that encouraging illegal activity is not allowed.”

Except that we have screengrabs of the group’s rules page from the end of August which says no such thing. To many, this might suggest very strongly that this form of words was added only after Perry was approached by journalists.

That is, after Perry had been caught being the “group expert” of an online group that salutes criminal damage to public property costing tens of thousands of pounds.

Read more: Perry slow to stop cars parking in town centre pedestrian zone
Read more: Mayor Perry accepted hundreds of pounds of gifts in first year
Read more: ULEZ is here to stay and the health benefits are on the way
Read more: Ignore ULEZ scare stories – it will reduce traffic and save lives

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  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

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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 Bromley Council, Coulsdon, Crime, Environment, London-wide issues, Mayor Jason Perry, Mayor of London, TfL, Transport, ULEZ, ULEZ expansion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Tory minister is member of online group that salutes vandals

  1. The Tories have vandalised the NHS, justice system, education sector, public transport, local government and the environment. It’s no surprise they’re applauding and coordinating attacks on ULEZ, which they introduced and wanted the Mayor of London to expand. Their crocodile tears for the poor, after 13 years of austerity, is risible

  2. Ken Towl says:

    Thank goodness Perry had the foresight to raise the council tax by 15%. All that extra revenue can pay for the repairs necessitated by his little Facebook group.

  3. David Wickens says:

    I am pleased that Perry is an expert at something.

    However this is just another example of the depths of stupidly that our representatives/Politicians display. It seems that once in power they lose most of their common sense.

    Like Boris and others, did they really think that their questionable behaviour would go unreported? Attempts to justify their positions just dig deeper holes.

  4. Michael Snowden says:

    You can also see the prize Gammon on the CR2 Facebook page praising those who vandalise ULEZ cameras. A Facebook page that the Minister regularly posts on. Hypocrisy!

  5. chris myers says:

    Embarrassing for Chris Philp but ‘private’ Facebook groups aren’t secret – you just need to apply to join. I’m a member of at least two FB – my church and one for fans of classic racing motorcycles. The private thing is to keep out nutters making offensive comments. Though in the case you mention it looks like the nutters ARE the group.
    There are a few other anti ULEZ expansion groups around on FB and elsewhere – one from an outfit called ‘Croydon Constitutionalists’. A quick search throws up others on the web, including a few petitions at Charge.Org. So seems like a public expression of opposition, reflecting a genuine concern. Khan’s comments that people who oppose the expansion must be far right, fascists or anti-vaxxers doesn’t help his case. Nor does his supercilious comments that those with concerns about his plans just need to be educated. The expansion may make a difference, which is good, but Khan’s cack handed approach hasn’t done his case any favours

  6. Ian Kierans says:

    Clearly it is misguided and at best poorly moderated. – but so is most of social media.

    The question/comparitor could be –

    If there was a secret (private group) on Facebook lauding (liking) improper posts of actions against Croydon Council and Conservative owned property and run by (disgruntled?) politicians of other parties or just independents with thousands of members and supporters and run by close colleagues family and friends of said politician would Mr Perry and co be ”liking” the same and would the Metropolitan Police be investigating that group?

    Would Facebook ban them?
    Would it be X rated by X?
    Would it be unlinked by Linkin for being unhinged and not hinged?

    Would part-time Perry be impeached and Trumpism trumped by the Met?

  7. derek thrower says:

    It’s good to see the Minister for Policing Chris Philp enjoying criminal disregard, damage and utmost contempt for the rule of law. He does have a record for this don’t you know since he time as an undergraduate at Oxford.

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