Thursday, 4 October 2012

Ample evidence that scum rises to the top: the cases of Nick Walkley and Matthew Offord

I've been disgusted today by the behaviour of people who earn considerably more than me and most of my esteemed readers, and enjoy prestige and a position of influence.

Barnet Council CEO Nick Walkley, who is paid more than £200,000 a year by us Barnet residents, has announced he is buggering off to Haringey Council. Frankly, I can't think why anyone would want him.

Barnet Council is just weeks away from signing critical contracts with multinational companies to run most of our council services for the next 10 years, the One Barnet programme. Yet confusion reigns at the top.

Walkley has presided over a situation where the Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius doesn't know whether the council is recommending a joint venture or a strategic partnership for the £275 million Development and Regulatory Services contract.

Walkley has succeeded in his time as Barnet CEO in alienating almost all of the staff, and done nothing to stem the increasing disaffection of residents from the Council. This is the fruit so far of the outsourcing programme that he has pushed as the answer to all of Barnet Council's financial difficulties.

Wouldn't an honorable man stay to see the project through either to success or failure? No, as the Barnet Press puts it, eschewing neutral headlines, Walkley is "jumping ship".

There's one word for this behaviour: contemptible. But, evidently, in the circles that senior local government officers move in, contemptible fits the bill nicely, for he has been offered the job of CEO at Haringey Council.

The mind boggles. I'll warn my friends in the Haringey Alliance for Public Services what's headed their way.

And now to target no.2 of my disgust today. Matthew Offord MP for Hendon - oh, my MP.

He has tweeted about the child sex abuse allegations against Jimmy Savile. He said: “For nine years I worked at the BBC and the rumours about Jimmy Savile were well known amongst staff.”

Barnet Press contacted Offord for more comment. He told them:
“The feeling was this was all well known, and he engaged in activities which were not legal for a number of years.  
“It was something that was known to have occurred in the BBC and it was something that no one really dwelt on.  
“All I had was hearsay... I had no evidence then and I have no evidence now.  
“There would have been nothing more to do. It was 30 years ago.  
“In a lot of these cases we all pray that the behaviour is relegated to the past.  
“He had ...become a peripheral, elderly figure.”
It really doesn't matter how peripheral or elderly Savile had become. Nazi war criminals are still quite rightly being pursued. Crime is crime.

I know that few people took child abuse as seriously as they should have done until reent times, but, really, your heart sinks to think that it was an 'open secret' among BBC staff - including, presumably, senior figures - that Savile was abusing girls. And nobody did anything about it.

How lowly they must have thought of his victims, all those nice, middle-class people making the programmes for the young - shall I say it? - plebs.

Thank God for the whistle-blower, wherever they are, that puts us all to shame disclosing wrongdoing while the rest just whisper in corners and publicly kowtow to the conventions and the powers-that-be and the spangle of the celebrity.

And how contemptible that so many people are casually dropping into conversation now that, well, they knew the child abuser Savile. What a disgusting claim to fame.

If I had known Savile and thought that he was a child abuser and did nothing about it, I would, out of shame, keep that acquaintanceship to myself.

If nothing else, this disclosure by Offord shows that he has absolutely no judgement whatever, not even where it is needed to protect his own reputation.

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