The curious story of the Docklands Handicapped Group (DHG), the charity that was not a charity but was still paid £300k in grants for a decade, has turned to farce as those who reported the issue are now being investigated by the police as a result of an allegation of tampering with the post – made by Kathy McTasney of DHG.
Steve Hill, Centre Director at Island House, got in touch with Love Wapping earlier this week. It was only as a result of the persistence of Steve’s team at Island House that the odd situation involving the £300k BACS payments to DHG being sent to Island House despite not being a charity or operating from Island House came to light.
Steve informed us that he had just been questioned by Tower Hamlets police officers from the Isle of Dogs office.
The reason Steve was being investigated was because a complaint had been lodged against him by Kathy McTasney alleging that he had unlawfully intercepted and or opened the mail containing the BACS payments sent to Docklands Housing Group.
Steve informed the investigating police officer that he and his staff had been authorised by the senders of the BACS documents, Tower Hamlets Council and Santander, to open the envelopes.
The police officer informed Steve that a check had been made with Tower Hamlets Council but they could not confirm that the letters had been opened with their approval. So lacking this information the allegation was being investigated.
The police officer refused to say who had been contacted at the Council.
Events moved rather quickly and the next thing Steve knew was that he had been requested to attend Limehouse Police Station this coming Saturday to be interviewed under caution.
And another Island House employee was also to be interviewed under caution, the prospect of which understandably caused her much distress.
“I’m so sick of all this and very very annoyed,” said Steve Hill “Now I am being investigated! What is the world coming to?!”
Rapidly losing any faith in Tower Hamlets policing, the next day Steve decided to do some checking himself.
Steve rang the Council and was immediately put through to the correct department. A very helpful person said that they knew of the case as all the mail sent to DHG at Island House had ended up on their desk – and there was no reason for police action.
As part of its original research into DHG the Wapping Mole somehow obtained an email from Island House to two members of Council staff on 21 March 2016 which in turn was a follow up to a previous contact with the Council on 29 February 2016.
Here’s the email:
Sent: 21 March 2016 10:30
To: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ email@example.com
Cc: ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ email@example.com
Subject: Docklands Handicapped Group – BACS REMITTANCE ADVICE LETTER
Good Morning Robert,
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today and for sharing our concerns. As requested, I have attached a copy of the latest BACS Remittance notice we’ve received for the Docklands Handicapped Group.
As I mentioned in our conversation, I have reported this matter to various people at Tower Hamlets to no avail, and we are concerned that the fund’s this group receives, may affect our own future funding bids. To be clear, Docklands Handicapped Group have not been connected to our centre in any way for around ten years.
I have cc’ed your colleague Mukta Datta into this email as I last raised the issue with her on 29/2/2016. I have also cc’ed Cllr. Candida Ronald, who has also raised this issue with Tower Hamlets on our behalf.
I trust that you and your colleagues will look into this matter further and should we receive any more letters regarding this group, I shall forward them onto you.
Many thanks for your help.
So that’s documentary evidence that Tower Hamlets Council had been informed by Island House staff of the issue. Twice. In two months.
And remember the BACS letters had been sent to DHG at Island House for ten years.
While speaking to the very helpful person at the Council Steve was informed that apparently their investigation into DHG had been stalled because Kathy McTasney had refused to be interviewed or cooperate in any other way until such time as the lawsuit against Love Wapping had been settled.
Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring! Don’t panic!
This bolt from the blue sent our editorial team into a state of complete panic for some minutes – until we realised that there was no lawsuit against Love Wapping. Not from Kathy McTasney or anyone else.
LW immediately got in touch with Ms. McTasney and asked her about the impending lawsuit as we had not heard from her or her lawyers since our original stories, despite her having our email address, phone number and the name of our website.
While we were at it we also asked Ms. McTasney for comment on the recent report by the East End Citizen that Docklands Handicapped Group had applied for a council grant in 2003, three years after it supposedly closed its doors. The £10,000 grant application was turned down by the council’s Cabinet Grants Panel in December 2003, with the case officer citing “a lack of monitoring details” and “difficulties in scheduling meetings” among the reasons for the rejection.
This was her response:
“I have forwarded this email to my Barrister and the Police.”
LW thought it only right that we let the nice people in Council audit know that there was no lawsuit against Love Wapping. Hopefully their investigation can restart now.
Calder’s Wharf Community Centre
Mr Hill also informed us that the day after the publication of the first LW article regarding DHG that someone claiming to be Kathy McTasney’s son-in-law Kevin visited him at Island House and gave Mr Hill a scrap of paper with a forwarding address, but no letterhead, signature or contact details from the organisation so that all future DHG correspondence that might inadvertently turn up at Island House could go to the right place.
The address given on the piece of paper was “Calder’s Wharf Community Centre” on Saunders Ness Road, which is owned by East End Homes.
Understandably Steve called East End Homes to check they were happy for him to use their address at Calder’s Wharf Community Centre as he had some doubts over the authenticity of the note.
East End Homes then put Steve through to – you guessed it – Kathy McTasney, the manager of the Centre, to confirm that this would be ok.
(Kathy McTasney is well known on the Island for her close involvement in Calder’s Wharf Community Centre over the years, although this LTHC Arts link gives another person as the manager. Ms. McTasney also seems to relish the controversial redevelopment of the community centre despite local opposition.)
For some odd reason the lady that answered the Calder’s Wharf Community Centre phone number subjected Steve to a ‘long and animated rant’.
Despite Steve trying to assure this lady that he just wanted to know who to forward the post she claimed that DHG “didn’t need a forwarding address because they weren’t a charity and just acted as a holding organisation” for the care package payments.
The lady said she was not Kathy McTasney but a ‘member of the household’.
Seems everyone in Kathy McTasney’s house is getting a little defensive over DHG.
We contacted Tower Hamlets Council for a comment on the issue of them not being able to confirm that they were, according to the police, unable to confirm that the DHG post sent to Island House was opened legally and as a result cause Steve Hills and his staff to be investigated.
“The council does not want to prejudice any police investigation into this issue. We will co-operate with the police accordingly.”
Which is a lame response and certainly no answer.
Not too sharp
To recap. Both current and previous administrations screw up in sending £300k in payments to a charity that does not exist at an address they do not use, then the current administration’s enquiry into this is stalled by a lawsuit against Love Wapping that does not exist. THC also seems incapable or unwilling to confirm that Steve Laws and the Island House staff were justified in opening the DHG post. This has the direct result of ordinary people who were trying to do the right thing being investigated by the police. And they do not seem too sharp at their jobs either.
Residents who are only want to help get our community back on track in will think twice about raising their concerns to the authorities if they are the ones who end up being investigated.
Residents can of course always get in touch with LW using the usual firstname.lastname@example.org contact email. We ain’t the council or the law – but then we don’t pretend to be either.
The chances of Tower Hamlets becoming a ‘beacon council’ for transparency and openness are zero if they keep on a this rate.
And quite how the Tower Hamlets police Isle of Dogs team can consider it proper to interview Steve Hills and colleagues under caution when they seem incapable of dialling a phone number and asking a simple question beggars belief. Maybe there are so many police officers on the Isle of Dogs that they have to think up things to do? Doubtful.
LW did not contact the Metropolitan Police for comment just in case we got nicked for asking a bleedin’ obvious question in a built up area.