Below is an open letter to John Bercow written by a friend and colleague of mine, Andrew Withers. Andrew is a founder member of the Libertarian Party and is standing, unopposed, for the party leadership later this month. I have been happy to support Andrew and continue to do so despite Vince 'Big Brother' Cable's actions. The actions of the Coalition in this instance just prove why we need a libertarian party, and why the Liberal Democrats are anything but liberal:
Mr John Bercow
Speaker to the House of Commons
Dear Mr Bercow
On the 12th November 2010 the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills Dr Vince Cable MP instructed a firm of solicitors, Osborne Clarke of Bristol to write to District Judge Watson of the Bristol Registry requiring that I have leave of the Court to act as elected Leader of the Libertarian Party, further more and I quote:
‘Our client does not consider that Mr Withers has currently demonstrated sufficient need for leave in respect of the entity’
The Libertarian Party is a registered party within the meaning of the Political Parties,Elections and Referendums Act 2000, and I have a mandate from the members of the party to act as the party leader as from the 27th November, what further sufficient need do I require ?
It is extraordinary that a Minister of the Crown has made such a legal move against the leader of a minor party and creates a dangerous precedent constitutionally. Can you please advise when government ministers and the executive think that they can act in such a manner, and interfere with the internal workings of another party through the Courts.
Can you please urgently advise as Chairman of the Speakers Committee under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, when such powers were transfered from the Electoral Commission and to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation & Skills.
I have no intention of seeking the leave of the Court to act as the leader of the Libertarian Party and I suspect this act is both illegal and ultra vires on the part of the Secretary of State. I am urgently seeking Counsels opinion on this letter.
I would be grateful for your urgent observations by return.
Andrew P Withers
In the latest turn of events in Andrew's four year legal tussles with The Department of Business, Innovation & Skills, a District Judge in the Bristol Registry has ordered that he should list all of the companies and organisations that he is an executive member of so that it can be decided by the Court whether he should be given permission to continue. Amongst the organisations specifically named is the Libertarian Party.
On the 22nd September 2010, the Information Commissioner ruled that when the Department was being run by Mandelson it withheld evidence that Andrew Withers wished to rely on in Court, and that they should release it ‘without further delay’. That ruling has so far been ignored by The Secretary of State’s officials. If the order is further ignored by this Friday, Andrew Withers will be seeking a Court Order to compel the Secretary Of State to comply with the ICO order under sec7 (9) Data Protection Act 1998.
Andrew's local MP is Dr Liam Fox and has been extremely supportive in a case that he has called in a personal telephone call a ‘scandal’, and found time in the midst of the strategic defence review to have personal meeting with Ed Davey MP the responsible Minister in the coalition Government on the 27th September 2010 to discuss the case. After which Ed Davey has ordered a review into the case by senior officials and a meeting has been suggested with senior officials to try to resolve the situation.
Andrew is currently writing a book about his experiences, and admits that new chapters are being added as one man’s fight against a politicised bureaucracy continues into a fifth year.
The story started in 2006 when a French company that Andrew was a gerant (director) of was illegally placed into liquidation by its French Director in contravention of the company statuts and on a perjured statement of affairs. The Court appointed Receiver was paid 8000€ to bury the company, and the French Director made off with the assets and finished goods . An investigating French barrister appointed by Andrew Withers visited the Receiver in Coutances and noted that there were no accounts, invoices or supporting documentation. The Barrister described the situation as the worst case of corporate fraud he had seen in over forty years of practice.
The unfortunate direct consequence of this fraud was that it brought down the British company down as well and it ceased trading in 2006 unfortunately four customers and a number of corporate creditors lost money.
The company was wound up in 2007, and Andrew presented himself to the Official Receiver with supporting documentation and statements from the French Investigating Barrister as to the veracity of the illegal winding up of the company by the French Director causing the failure of the company. He was complemented on the professionalism of the presentation of the narrative and whilst he could not promise that nothing more would be heard from the Insolvency Service, he was satisfied with the narrative.
In October 2007 , Andrew became one of the five founding members of the Libertarian Party sickened by the growth of the security state established by Blair and continued by Brown and the fact that the State was out of control and the State was absorbing more and more taxpayers funds. Three days later the run on Northern Rock began.
From this point the story started to take a bizarre and disturbing twist.
■Despite the French fraud being reported to Avon and Somerset Police and the Insolvency Service which is part of the then Business,Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. A furious French Colleague contacted Andrew to report that the French Director had just been given an award presented by the British Ambassador to Paris and Lord Digby-Jones (GOAT)
■From redacted documents secured under the Freedom of Information Act, the French Director started lobbying to have Andrew investigated in April 2008.
■In June 2008 he received a letter from the Insolvency Service in Plymouth to say he was under investigation under the terms of the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986, this despite them having no accounts because they could not access the electronic copies of the SAGE accounts.
■In November 2008 the Assistant Official Receiver confirmed in an email that in their view the French subsidiary was not part of their investigations as their advice was that it was not possible for French companies to have foreign shareholders !
■The conduct of the investigation was the source of endless abuse, the interviewer was balefully ignorant of commercial law, gave off the appearance of being a former policeman, told a number of direct lies and allowed Andrew to look at a former employee’s personal bank statements and files in contravention of the Data Protection Act, then could offer no explanation what those statements and files were doing with the company documentation.
■The Company’s former accountants were threatened with investigation, to the extent that they took legal advice.
■Mandelson was appointed Secretary of State 3rd October 2008, it is his decision to seek disqualification orders against company directors. Liam Fox MP met Andrew and was shown all of the documentation relating to the criminal fraud. Fox lobbied Mandelson and was rebuffed.
■Further evidence was supplied to the Secretary of State in July 2009, including witness statements and French Court documents to show the extent of the French Fraud and the effect it had had on the British Company. All of this evidence was rejected and returned to Andrew unread.
■From redacted documents received by Andrew under FOI , the Official Receiver’s recommendation to move forward to Proceedings was rejected for lack of evidence in May 2009, saying it ‘required more work done on it’
■In August 2009 with days to spare before being statute barred, proceedings were authorised by Secretary of State Mandelson against Andrew to be disbarred as a director for eight years. If Andrew was so minded to sign a confession and to say a false set of accounts prepared by the Secretary of State were true (that omitted the French subsidiary) , the ban would be reduced to seven years.
■Andrew and his lawyers refused to sign, and tried to negotiate with the appointed lawyers to no avail to drop the case.
■When the evidence in the case was finally released to Andrew it soon became apparent that-
■The winding up order made against the company was made by somebody who was not a creditor. The Official Receiver knew this and sought to hide the supporting documentation and invoices that had been altered
■The French Director had supplied the Official Receiver with forged Delivery Notes, the Official Receiver made no attempt to verify them.
■The Official Receiver had made no attempt to contact the Court appointed Receiver in Coutances, but entered into very friendly correspondence with the French Director. The Official Receiver allowed the transfer of assets , goods and cash to the French Director’s company at nil value.
It costs not less than £50 000 to mount a defence in actions such as this, Andrew’s legal insurers refused to consider this was an action they would cover, it does not take long to burn through legal fees, and with money running short Andrew compromised and settled on a voluntary undertaking with the Secretary of State for five and a half years not to act as a company Director with an undertaking that a s17 hearing would be heard by the District Judge before the undertaking took affect on July 13th 2010. The Court Order of 22nd June confirms that hearing never took place because the Secretary of State two days before the hearing in July had issued no instructions to counsel to attend and had broken the settlement by rushing into print and online trumpeting their success on the 1st July. The District Judge then signed an order to allow Andrew to continue to act as a Director in two designated companies, an order that was renewed on the 11th of October 2010 pending the outcome of the next full hearing.
Andrew released the following personal statement in October:
“I first wish to repudiate the voluntary undertaking I signed on 22nd June 2010, the accounts so presented were false, the Official Receiver knew they were false, I knew they were false, they were based on perjury in both French and English Courts, based on forged documents supplied by the French Director who colluded with the Official Receiver to transfer assets at nil value. I simply signed to end the attrition of costs by an overbearing State and because of the effect this war of attrition has had on my family. That is the end of one battle, but I have not given up the fight in this war.
I am grateful for the support of my legal teams in both France and England, to Liam Fox MP and to the members of the NCC of the Libertarian Party who refused to accept my offered resignation last June as Treasurer and Deputy Leader of the Party, and that despite the Court Order of the 11th October 2010 examining whether the poorly written, oppressive anti business CDDA 1986 can extend its authority over companies that are not registered in this country and to political parties and to charitable organisations, I will continue to seek the leadership of the Libertarian Party. Therefore it is only fair that all members are aware of this cloud that hangs over me before casting their vote.
I welcome the intervention of Ed Davey MP and look forward to the results of his review and for the opportunity of a meeting with senior officials to present the evidence that Dr Liam Fox has seen and quite rightly has called a scandal.
This will not however stop me seeking a Court order on the 25th October against the Secretary of State following the ruling of the Information Commissioner of the 22nd September. I will also be launching a civil action against the Secretary of State, Official Receiver and French Director, as both a creditor and shareholder of my former company for the wrongful transfer of assets , equipment and cash to the French Director at nil value.
I can however only express my displeasure at the lack of action by the Avon & Somerset Chief Constable in this case in relation to the Fraud and Theft that has occurred. The constant pleading of lack of resources has further undermined my confidence in Law enforcement.
I was a Classical Liberal before I help found the Party, my experiences of politicised public servants under the last administration have only confirmed that I must continue with that fight. I am confident the Parliament never intended the CDDA Act to be applied to foreign companies over which they have no jurisdiction , nor to political parties which is a breach of basic political Liberty, and I am confident that the Judge will come to the same conclusion "
I will be at the Party AGM on November 27th, look forward to greeting Andrew as our new Party Leader and will support him in any way I can in the face of state oppression. It seems that Cable is continuing the practice of Mandelsonian dark arts.