BICESTER Town Council has been caught out for giving fake evidence in a tribunal case after it failed to respond to multiple requests from a local resident.

Iain Belton, from Bicester, wanted further information from the council regarding its decision to increase allotment rates back in November 2019.

FULL STATEMEMT: Town council responds to tribunal outcome

He made several enquiries, all of which were ignored and eventually, on August 22, 2020, he made an FOI request - which was also ignored.

Mr Belton complained to the Information Commissioner on October 16, 2020 who asked the town council to provide a copy of its response to Mr Belton’s FOI request.

But the council instead sent fabricated evidence, claiming to have responded on July 22, 2020.

Bicester Advertiser: Resident Iain Belton wins appeal against Bicester Town Council after the council lied about responding to a letter he sent 5/10/2021 Picture by Ed NixResident Iain Belton wins appeal against Bicester Town Council after the council lied about responding to a letter he sent 5/10/2021 Picture by Ed Nix

The text in this letter clearly responds to the points made in Mr Belton’s FOI request of August 22 and so this ‘evidence’ was in fact created well after July 22.

The Commissioner did not pick this up and accepted that the council had ‘provided sufficient evidence’.

However, Mr Belton appealed the decision, and it was later found that the metadata of the council’s 'evidence' showed that it was in fact created on November 18, 2020 - the date that the council first wrote to the ICO, suggesting it was created for this purpose.

Judge of the First Tier Tribunal Stephen Cragg QC said: “It has not been explained to us how the state of affairs in this case has arisen. The Council has not, of its own accord, proffered any further explanation.

“Inevitably, and somewhat incredulously, we are left with the strong impression that an officer of the Council has fabricated an account to the Commissioner that the response was sent on 22 July 2020 to avoid criticism that this was not, in fact, done.”

Mr Belton said: “Bicester Town Council have continually tried to evade scrutiny of the unlawful process to attempt to remove allotment tenants statutory and contractual rights so I am not surprised they wilfully lied to the Information Commissioner and fabricated evidence.

“They kept up the pretence from November 2020 to May 2021, when the Commissioner ordered them to have their IT system independently checked as evidence. They then came clean.

“Richard Mould, the council leader and the (then) Mayor Jason Slaymaker, were fully aware from the beginning. Bicester Town Council are completely out of control and hold the people of Bicester in contempt.’’

Bicester Town Council was contacted for comment but failed to respond before this paper went to print.

Oxfordshire County Councillor for Otmoor, Calum Miller, reacted to the story this morning on Twitter.

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