Thursday, 11 February 2010

Guilty Mayor of Margate still claiming £1,000/month

It is appalling that Thanet councillor Ted Watt-Ruffell’s has been found guilty of animal cruelty resulting in the death of a defenceless kitten sucked dry by 150 fleas. For new readers a little history. Ted was a Labour councillor. However, there were a number of problems with his conduct and Thanet Labour Party were unprepared to have him representing them. No longer welcome in the Labour Party Ted turned to Thanet Conservatives where he was warmly welcomed. Informally, Labour members advised Conservatives of their concerns, but Thanet Conservatives dismissed them.

Ted was selected as a Conservative councillor for Dane Valley in Margate. As part of his election strategy he became a school governor. He was welcomed and earned a reputation for working hard. After his election though, his involvement with the school notably diminished, until his contribution was negligible. I have conflicting sources on what happened next. One side says the schools governors quietly asked Ted to leave, the other that Ted realised that in the context of his friend/fellow councillor/employer Stephen Broadhurst spectacularly bad attendance record, that it was time to go. Many local observers were concerned that the school had been cynically exploited as Ted strove onwards and upwards.

To his credit Ted was clear that Stephen Broadhurst’s position was untenable and told me that it was others in the Conservative Group who supported having a councillor living in Panama.
It was odd that Ted became both Mayor and Chief Whip. Mayor is a demanding position done well it is the equivalent of a full time job. With Ted working full time, and having a family, plus duties as a ward councillor it is odd that he sought out the position of Thanet Conservative Group Chief Whip. I am advised that he did not push for this position (it attracts no additional money), but rather that he was chosen.

To understand why Ted was overloaded with jobs you have to understand Thanet Conservative Group. It is dysfunctional. Misconduct is not just tolerated it is welcomed, seen as a “badge of honour.” Whilst a minority of Conservative councillors oppose this, the majority are at best prepared to turn a blind eye to bad behaviour, and many actually revel in it. There are circles of power, the leadership, an inner Cabinet, the rest of the Cabinet and other trusted lieutenants. One local Conservative advises me that the normal qualities of ability and integrity are of little importance. What matters above all is loyalty. Or as it was put to me what is prized above all is that like some gang, what matters most is whether you are staunch or not. Ted was staunch. Ted was elected Chief Whip.

Loyalty can work both ways. When there was an incident of drunkenness in December 2008 it was caught on camera. Whether Ted Watt-Ruffell was the person is not known. What is regrettable is that the business owner did not share the CCTV evidence with the police. This is compounded by the fact that when Council Leader Sandy Ezekiel became involved, he did not see drunken and abusive behaviour as a matter to be referred to the police, but one for private investigation only. This partial investigation leaves the whole matter unanswered. If Ted was the man, then Sandy Ezekiel acted loyally. If Ted was not the man Sandy Ezekiel failed the electorate by not involving the police.

Regular readers will know I try when I can to inject some humour into local politics. When at a hospital charity fundraising event I saw Ted wearing a Panama hat, the chance to comment on his fellow ward councillor being in Panama was too good an opportunity to miss. The post (click to link) used this photo. As you can see I carefully cropped it so the child could not be identified. Ted then made a complaint saying the child could be identified. Puzzled I discussed this with Ted. He said that it was not his idea to complain but that he had been asked to do so by one of his fellow Conservatives. Regular readers again will know that this blog has had a series of unfounded complaints by local Conservatives costing Thanet residents thousands of pounds. To Ted’s credit having discussed this with him he decided to take the matter no further. It gave me an interesting insight into the mindset of Thanet Conservatives and to have it confirmed that complaints are organised.

I have since been advised that the view is that it does not matter whether the complaint is well founded, what matters is to keep up a barrage to try and silence criticism. I did not know at the time but when I was discussing this with Ted the kitten we will come on to had died. Now Ted has pleaded guilty to the charge of neglecting the kitten, what should have happened? I should add here that I have no knowledge of whether Ted neglected his kitten, but I take his guilty plea in court at face value.

Ted has a private life but as Mayor of Margate he is Margate’s first citizen and the Queen’s representative. So any controversy about the Mayor makes for controversy about Margate. The Mayor is supposed to promote Margate, not bring it notoriety. My view is that what has motivated Ted throughout this is money. As Mayor of Margate he receives an allowance of £11,154 a year to spend on himself as he sees fit.

So when charged in October he should have either stood down or put out a statement protesting his innocence. Ted did neither, allowing speculation and starting the process of dragging Margate’s name down. When the charges became public on November 5th Mayoral events became two tier. If you were a local then Ted was allowed to continue. But if a senior figure came to visit Ted would become “unavailable.” Even when this featured in national media like Private Eye dragging down Margate, Ted did not seem to care. People were told he was "indisposed" but then he was seen at work, apparently fine.

His court appearance in Margate resulted in a postponement. I am advised that Ted’s claim that he could not receive a fair trial was accepted. He could though have put this forward several weeks previously. Instead he left it to the last minute. Instead of a prompt rearranged hearing this resulted in a delayed hearing. For Ted time was money. Every month he could claim as he did to many people that he was innocent, he received an extra £1,000/month. Now that he has pleaded guilty, it can be deduced that he knew from the start that he was guilty and that this would put his £1,000/month as Mayor of Margate in jeopardy. Even now having admitted his guilt he has not resigned after all every extra day as Mayor is worth an extra £33, so why rush to resign?

Let me declare an interest. Last November Ted became the latest member of Team Ezekiel to make an unfounded Standards complaint against me. He claimed this post prejudiced the chance of his receiving a fair trial. His complaint was false on 2 counts. First he knew he was guilty, so I could not prejudice his guilt as he has pleaded guilty himself. Second, he only made the application because it was free. My post was no different to what the local papers were reporting in its substance. However, to challenge the newspapers Ted would have to pay. To challenge me he could rely on Council Tax payers picking up the bill. So a few more thousand pounds could be wasted by a Thanet Conservative councillor.

Thanet’s Council's independent Standards Committee met and threw out Ted’s claim. In Ted world though, denial is everything. So Ted has now appealed this decision to the Standards Board of England. It is currently waiting to be heard. If Ted had pleaded innocent to the court charges he might have a point, but Ted knew he was guilty, and pleaded guilty. So Thanet Council has had to prepare a report to justify its Standards Committee decision. Thousands of pounds more of our money being poured down the drain. Now the cats out of the bag, and Ted has pleaded guilty, will he withdraw his appeal and save Council tax payers some money?

I won’t hold my breath! My prediction is that he will wiggle and wriggle to cling on for as long as possible, after all Ted’s getting £233/week as long as he is Mayor. Ted claims his health is affected, yet he has put up a tenacious and prolonged defence when he knew he was guilty from the start. He has had the staunch support of fellow councillors Simon Moores, Sandy Ezekiel and Roger Latchford. Roger Gale North Thanet MP who claims to have an interest in animal welfare, is silent when there is animal cruelty in his constituency. Ted has had £6,000 of "expenses" through this sorry affair, and no-one defends elected representatives rights to expenses more tenaciously than Roger.

Laura Sandys who has prospective South Thanet constituents in Cliftonville who are deeply angry at having a Mayor who allowed a defenceless kitten to be sucked dry by fleas until it died, stays silent, after all Ted is a loyal Conservative councillor.

Thanet Conservatives should ask Ted to resign as Mayor and councillor. If he refuses to do so they should take the Conservative Whip away from him.


  1. Public gallery attender12 February 2010 at 07:39

    At the court on Wednesday Mr. Watt-Ruffell was pleading 'not guilty'. His solicitor wanted a CRO check on the two main witnesses,the contractors who reported him to the RSPCA. The magistrates did agree although wanted to know why the prosecution hadn't done so. It's a private prosecution by the RSPCA who don't have to investigate witnesses but it was due to the insistence of the defence that such checks were carried out. Another delaying tactic, it seemed but the prosecution was able to get the checks done within an hour. As the two main witnesses came up 'clean', the defence changed the plea to 'guilty'.

    It was clear the defence was hoping to discredit the evidence had either witness had anything against him as it was said, prior to this delay, defence claimed the argument between Mr. Watt-Ruffell and the workmen wasn't as alleged.

    Had Mr. Watt-Ruffell admitted his guilt back in November the case would have been done and dusted but as you say, he is still claiming his Mayoral allownace.

  2. Actually you make a point I had made. some months ago, in writing to Watt-Ruffell that the Mayor of Margate is a position still subject of loyal oath. Hence it is a route at Common Law through which treason can be reported.

    So I took the opportunity to report my knowledge of treason which should be explained or answered at law by tory Cllr William HAYTON.

    In the correspondence I also asked which way Watt-Ruffell had voted some years ago when Margate Charter Trustees voted to end public funding of the pseudo cadet group Kent Adventure Training Corps.

    Did he hear a KCC cllr of the Charter trustees announce that a certain youth group was under Special Branch investigation ?

    Roger Gale had been prominent in supporting KATC (pictures in the Gazette etc) and I wonder if Kent Police Special Branch had spoken to him ?

    All this would have been before 2003 when KCC cancelled KATC youth group affiliation status.

    But the Margate Charter Trustee vote would not be far off the time I think that MI5 and Scotland Yard gave a joint press release announcing that Kent Police had appointed a complete new CID team to the 1989 IRA bombing of Deal Barracks inquiry.

    One wonders what was happening then about a KATC adult leader having featured in security warnings, as a civilian guard at the barracks, ignored by Kent Police before the bombing and left out of the bombing inquiry later by Kent Police !!! (Keeping quiet they had ignored warnings about weak security)

    If we now trace back from 1989 (when the IRA bombed the barracks) through the keyholder access of the barracks (not checked by Kent Police) we get 1982 when James SHORTT and Jean BULTOT had weekend access to use the gym and messing facilities.

    BULTOT (google him) was associated with VMO who up to about 83 supplied guns and explosives to IRA.

    And now we know that James SHORTT used two Kent ranges for his live fire courses (International Bodyguards Assn and International Law Enforcement Training Agency both organisations he created) I ask about 6th Thanet Gun Range activity again.

    And how it was when TDC Standards Cttee considered my complaints against Cllr HAYTON (Dir he perjure in Aldwych High Court for ex tory cllr and adult leader of KATC arrested paramilitary George Richard MAISON ?) Cllr Neville HUDSON acting chair with held the 6th Thanet Gun Range evidence from the cttee ?

    Cllr HAYTON was rather wont to phone witnesses to 6th Thanet Gun Range activity seeking to dissuade their evidence "If you want a political future in Thanet you are talking to the wrong people" that sort of thing.

    By a rather odd coincidence I find that the KATC leader who ended up working on security at Deal Barracks was a school chum of a man arrested years before, accomplice of tory Cllr Cyril Hoser, in possession of a sub machine gun.

    MAISON, KATC leader, was another self proclaimed associates of HOSER.

    Let us hope that HOSER had not added firearms certificates to his product range ?

    However Kent Police were so lax in giving them to inappropriate people it is thought there was no market.

    How about Army Service record books very handy to clear civilian vetting arrangements for barracks guards ?

    Which way did you vote Ted ? Did you vote to carry on giving public funds to KATC ?

  3. with both the Gales (Mr & Mrs) being involved in animal wefare they will no doubt be insisting that this man goes pretty damn quick

  4. he changed his plea when the cro check was clear on the witnesess, DISCUSTING !!! IT MAKES ME FEEL SICK AND ANGRY !!! he runs dreamland whilst we are rebuilding it ? i really am discusted ! during the DAY sits in a security hut and dealing with parking etc, well lets hope people pop in and share there views about animal cruelty and how he changed his plea when his dirty solicitor trick didnt work, this is 2010 how can a mayor of margate be involved with discusting animal cruelty and still get support from sandy ezekeil ?

  5. Out of £33 a day that many of us wish we had in disposable income, I find it disheartening that he couldn't buy his little pet some flea remedy! Hardly breaks the bank! The man is cruel and selfish!

  6. Roger Gale had written a character reference that would have been submitted to the court had the case proceeded so what the defence was trying to do was show what a good, upright citizen Watt-Ruffell is, church-goer, charity worker, politician, Mayor whereas the two workmen... turned out also to be of good character so that was the end of the matter. Watt-Ruffell would have allowed his defence to try to discredit two contractors and submit the three RSPCA officers to cross-examination rather than say,'Yes, I was wrong and neglectful. I'll take my punishment as deemed suitable'.

  7. Glad he has gone, should have gone earlier but at a grand a month he did a Broadhurst HUNG ON TILL THE LAST

  8. I'm with Lauren there; I know people who virtually starve or can't afford to put the heating on so that they can care for their pets when sick, there was simply no excuse for it.

    Maybe he can try to make ammends & pay back some of the money he's earnt as mayor since the incident to animal charities.

  9. While Ted is being hung out to dry over this unfortunate affair, lets not forget how many Conservatives support fox hunting which is cruelty for pleasure.

  10. I think the question here is has he gone or hasn’t he?

    He has certainly resigned from the Conservative group but it seems unclear if has resigned as a councillor or even as mayor.

  11. As I understand Mr Watt Ruffel is now an independent Councillor, not mayor, not a member of the Conservative Group.

    But of Course Mark, your group would know, ie Sharon Mayo, Chris Wright, and a couple of others!

  12. According to Thanet Strife he MAY have lied about his income to get Legal Aid! Something worth looking into perhaps?

  13. The only information we have a reliable source for, is Cllr Simon Moores stating on behalf of NCTA that Mr Watt-Ruffell has reigned the Conservative whip. The Mayor's Parlour press release yesterday, stated intent rather than resignation, in regard to the Mayoralty. We have yet to see a resignation declared in respect of his position as Mayor and Ward Cllr for Dane Valley. There is now distance between the Conservative Party and their former Chief Whip but the electorate in Margate still has a disgraced Mayor and new Independent Cllr! I wonder if Tom King will be happy to have him join our 3 Ind Cllrs in the Council Chamber?

  14. If you really want to know about the integrity of Ted Ruffell, I suggest you ask Iris about the Westgate Residents Assn and late night post drops to his house!

    Then again, that story does not reflect well on her or the Labour party either!

    Be very careful what stones you lift where Ruffell is concerned!

  15. Mark

    As you know I only respond on blog sites as an invited guest. However it is high time I refuted some of the nonsense surrounding Ted Ruffell’s time in the Labour Party.

    I have never made ‘late night drops to his house’ and have no idea what this is supposed to be about. I refused to be agent for Ted when he wanted to stand for Labour in the 2003 elections and the reasons for this are well documented within the Labour Party.

    As far as I and the North Thanet Labour Party are concerned we acted absolutely correctly at all times and if your ‘correspondant’ (Anon 8.37) wishes to make false allegations he /she should consider their position.

  16. Well said Iris, Anon 8.37 will be a local Tory hiding as usual. Unlike the Conservatives the local Labour Party is happy to see openness on all matters relating to Ted Watt-Ruffell.

  17. iris,

    did you pay for your labour party phone?

  18. During the Thatcher years I was involved in Parentline with a number of others where we had a bleep. Young parents rang us for advice and comfort and Social Services used me to visit people at home. I campaigned for nursery provision and was the founder member of Thanet Early Years Project. I paid my own phone bill.

    After a while I was getting more and more calls for other issues and for some years my own family phone, which we always paid for, became the Labour Helpline. For about two years the Labour Party paid for a separate line into my house as at the height of repossessions in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s people had no one to turn to. I still got many calls on my own number as well.

    People who had been to Roger Gale and Conservative Councillors said they got no help and were very upset. (still happens!!!)

    I pay my own phone bill and internet charges and I still have many calls for help from all over North Thanet and sometimes even Canterbury. It is something I have been doing for 25 years!

  19. Thank you iris, I will not allow further off thread comments. I have received numerous posts I cannot publish, people are clearly very angry and they should not become abusive. It is always preferable for commenters to provide their identity.

    If only Thanet Conservatives would answer questions as directly as Iris has above.