The front cover of the Christmas Edition 2019 edition of City Matters carried a piece of fake news that shows it as being in thrall to the City of London lie machine.
Five “unsuitable” candidates hoping to gain the coveted centuries-old Freedom of the City of London have been spotted since the enhanced checks were brought in four years ago to protect the honour’s reputation… The 15-minute enhanced checks include looking at applicants’ social media profiles, including entries on the LinkedIn website describing people’s career history, as well as checking Companies House entries of disqualified directors… Earlier this year, Aung San Suu Kyi… was the first person to ever be stripped of this honour…”
Vetting Ruled Out Five Candidates: Procedures to weed out unsuitable Freedom nominees protect City of London’s reputation by Julia Gregory, City Matters, Christmas edition 2019, edition 113.
As we noted back in September this year – citing both local media coverage and a City of London press release – despite at one point voting to strip Aung San Suu Kyi of her Freedom, the council failed to do so and in a U-turn merely suspended it. Given that the City of London hands out these awards in a manner analogous to sweets being passed around at a children’s party, the fact they’ve only found 5 unsuitable candidates in 4 years is hardly reassuring. Equally disturbing is the fact that in order to stand for council seats at this local authority, prospective candidates must first be awarded the Freedom of the City of London – alongside business votes and other scams, ‘vetting’ for this ‘award’ might thus function as another way for this feudal local authority to continue to block and frustrate democracy within its boundaries. Likewise, Julia Gregory’s claim that this so-called ‘honour’ is coveted is a moot point – we’d certainly consider it a dishonour to be given an award already handed out to the likes of the freeloading and utterly reactionary politician Ian Paisley Junior or paedophile Keith Harding.
Another paedophile with a Freedom of the City of London award is Hubert Chesshyre. Earlier this year, The Guardian reported that:
Lawyers have called for an overhaul of the honours forfeiture system after it emerged that a sex abuser retained an honour bestowed for services to the Queen some three years after a court recognised him as a paedophile… it recently emerged during the Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that in 2015 Chesshyre was found to have sexually abused a teenage chorister during the 1990s, a fact that has remained buried from public record. This is because Chesshyre’s case did not result in a criminal conviction. Rather, the inquiry heard “he was found to have committed the acts in question” in a trial of the facts… These are held when the accused is deemed unfit to plead. The court recognised that Chesshyre had suffered a stroke. It was also said that he had dementia. As a result, despite being found to have committed the abuse, he was given an absolute discharge… The Corporation of London emailed the victim to tell him it did not have the power to remove Chesshyre’s status as a Freeman of the City of London.
Honours system under scrutiny after sex abuser kept title for years. Expert in heraldry and genealogy wasn’t stripped of title until three years after court recognised him as a paedophile by Jamie Doward, The Guardian, 30 March 2019.
Having looked at some of those awarded the Freedom of the City of London, we wonder if it is people who support democracy and human rights who are deemed unsuitable by the vetting process. The document Julia Gregory’s City Matters fake news splash is based on states the red flags in the vetting process are:
Inappropriate or extremist personal views. Links or appointments to an organisation or company, with any improper history or bankruptcy. Links or membership the applicant may have to any inappropriate or extremist groups. Any impending court orders or arrests
Review of the Vetting Procedure for applicants to the City Freedom by Redemption without the Intervention of a Livery Company by Murray Craig and Joseph Anstee, 27 November 2019.
Given that ‘inappropriate’ and ‘extremist’ are undefined, these terms could mean anything – including advocating the long overdue democratic reform of the City of London. In other words it is business as usual in the City with Freedoms handed out to anyone those governing the Square Mile deem as potentially useful regardless of whatever human rights abuses they or the regime they serve might be linked to. Notice also that the vetting doesn’t apply to Livery Company members, and of course Keith Harding belonged to the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and Hubert Chesshyre is – according to Wikipedia – a member of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, so these paedophiles would not in any case be subject to the vetting system under discussion here. LIkewise paedophiles tend not to announce that they are predatory sex abusers on their social media profiles, so checking them for things like this is pointless. Last month’s Freedom vetting procedure report is simply a cynical PR stunt that City Matters shamefully decided to amplify.
The header shows paedophile and holder of a Freedom of the City of London Hubert Chesshyre.
Honours system under scrutiny after sex abuser kept title for years. Expert in heraldry and genealogy wasn’t stripped of title until three years after court recognised him as a paedophile by Jamie Doward: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/30/sex-offender-retains-queen-honour-reform
Review of the Vetting Procedure for applicants to the City Freedom by Redemption without the Intervention of a Livery Company by Murray Craig and Joseph Anstee: https://web.archive.org/web/20191219013652/http://democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk/documents/s125734/2019%20Review%20of%20the%20Vetting%20Procedure%20-%20Without%20Livery.pdf
At the time this blog was posted, Vetting Ruled Out Five Candidates: Procedures to weed out unsuitable Freedom nominees protect City of London’s reputation by Julia Gregory had appeared in the City Matters print edition but not on this local rag’s website.