Thursday 26 April 2012

Exclusive : Open letter to the Leader of Barnet Council regarding political harrassment of local traders campaigner

From: Roger Tichborne
Sent: Thursday, April 26, 2012 7:10 PM
Subject: Open Letter - Harrassment of Barnet Traders

To : The Leader of Barnet Council
Dear Councillor Cornelius,
This afternoon I witnessed the most shocking thing I have ever seen in all of my time covering politics in Barnet. I had arranged to meet A.M. Poppy, the Green Party candidate at Cafe Buzz in Finchley to record a video interview for the Barnet Eye blog, as part of our news coverage of the GLA elections.
As I was conducting the interview, with the video camera running, in the middle of the Cafe, an officialf Barnet Council arrived, approached Helen Michael, the owner of Cafe Buzz, and served an official notice on Ms Michael, in relation to distribution of posters concerning the traders protest about Barnet Council parking charges. 
This was done in a most humiliating and embarrassing way, in front of a whole cafe full of people, whilst I was in the middle of an interview with the Green Party candidate. This is clearly an attempt by Barnet Council to intimidate Ms Michael in the run up to the GLA elections. Ms Michael was clearly upset and refused to discuss the incident with me, until she has spoken to a lawyer, although it was crystal clear what was happening.
It is 100% clear to me that this is a highly political action and the timing is not a coincidence, with the GLA election next Thursday. As Ms Michael told me last week that she had spoken privately to you concerning the matter, I cannot believe that you would seek to publicly humiliate her in this manner. You could easily have rang her and asked her to receive the notice in a less embarrassing manner.
The behaviour of the council you are running becomes more like a repressive Stalinist regime each week. I believe that you should hang your head in shame at such behaviour, as this is clearly a politcally motivated act. Thousands of posters are put up every week in Barnet looking for cats, advertising drug fuelled raves and money lending services in all manner of places. How many of these people receive a visit in such a manner?
I believe a full apology to Helen Michael is in order. Needless to say that if Barnet Council persist with this attempt to silence a vociferous critic, they will doubtless find themselves on the receiving end of yet more awful media coverage. The traders of Barnet are a huge asset, one which is clearly not valued by your administration. I am deeply upset at what I saw today, and I sincerely hope you will be too.
Roger Tichborne


Don't Call Me Dave said...


Can you clarify what offence has allegedly been committed? Is it an offence in Barnet to distribute leaflets?

Rog T said...

David, I haven't seen the contents of the letter or discussed them with Helen, so I really don't know. We have Barry Evangeli saying it is a "molehill", but the council sending someone down to give her the envelope. When they've threatened me in the past, they simply sent me a recorded delivery letter and an email, so I guess they must think this is pretty serious?