No court action to be taken in Kensal Rise Library fraud probe

Kensal Rise Library in Bathurst Gardens

Kensal Rise Library in Bathurst Gardens - Credit: Archant

A lengthy chapter concerning claims that fraudulent emails supported plans to develop Kensal Rise Library has come to an end following a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Young campaigners outside the library

Young campaigners outside the library - Credit: Archant

Last week, the public prosecuting agency ruled there was insufficient evidence to press any charges into the claims concerning the Victorian building in Bathurst Gardens.

The building was closed by the council in 2011 and later sold to property developer Andrew Gillick who submitted proposals to convert it into six flats, a cottage and a community space.

The fraud claims emerged in September 2013 when the council published a report saying that when email notifications were sent to everyone who made a statement about the plans on the council’s website 78 were returned as being undelivered with 70 of those belonged to ‘supporters’.

They concluded ‘a large proportion of the supporting emails appear to have been fabricated’.

Kirsty Slattery was one of the fraud victims

Kirsty Slattery was one of the fraud victims - Credit: Archant

Mr Gillick hit back with claims that false objections against the application had also been posted on the website.

The planning permission was rejected but a revised plan to build five flats and a community space instead was approved.

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The council forwarded their report to the police who initially decided not to take further action but did a U-turn after an outcry by the community.

The details were then passed on to the CPS.

A spokesman for the CPS told the Times: “Having carefully considered all the material supplied we have decided there was insufficient evidence to support a realistic prospect of conviction in this case.

“The evidence did not prove this to the required standard and we therefore advised the police that no further action should be taken.”

Margaret Bailey, chair of FKRL, said the news had come as no surprise to her as she believed the CPS were reluctant to look into the case in the first place.

She added: “We hope lessons have been learnt and the council has in place strengthened procedures so that fraud of any kind can not be perpetrated.

“Fraudulent access to private emails and websites seems to be an issue that requires attention and it is a shame that this kind of fraud seems to earn no penalties.”

Kirsty Slattery of Graceland Yards in Liddell Gardens, Kensal Rise, was a victim of the fraud after her details were used to support the application while she was away with her family.

She said: “The fraud affected my business as it misrepresented my standing in the community. This should never have been allowed to happen. “Someone ought to have been held accountable for these deceitful actions and the very least I would expect is a sincere apology.”Meg Howarth, an Islington-based library campaigner, said: “I’m naturally disappointed by the CPS decision - someone posted the fake emails.

“Lack of evidence to support a prosecution doesn’t alter that fact.”

Mr Gillick told the Times he was disappointed that no one will be prosecuted for trying to jeopardise his planning application.

He added: “We brought the issue of spurious comments to Brent Council’s attention immediately during the planning process and I am satisfied the comments were disregarded immediately.

“Having now achieved planning I am looking forward to moving forward with this development.2

Last month the building failed to sell at auction after it fell £50,000 short of its £1.2million guide price.

If it does sell its new owner will be legally obliged to allocate the community space inside to a local organisation or group.

Related links: Brent Council call in police over Kensal Rise Library fraud claimsPolice fraud probe fails to halt decision on the future of Kensal Rise LibraryInvestigation launched into Kensal Rise Library fraud claims by campaigners and property developer

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