Sunday, 17 January 2016

The full exchange of my emails with Lucy Allan - trying to get a straight answer to a simple question

Following the shocking email I received from my MP Lucy Allan on Thursday evening which I reported on my blog on Friday here I thought it would be useful for everyone to see the full exchange of emails between myself and Lucy Allan, so that you can decide yourself why Lucy Allan has reacted so extremely by referring to my behaviour as ‘stalking’ and asking me not to contact her offices again. Many of these emails I have published before but never as a full thread in chronological order.

Just to set the scene I want to recap on a few important points  - or to use Lucy Allan’s own phrase ‘let’s get some facts out there’.

Lucy Allan herself encourages her constituents to contact her by email and to telephone to arrange surgery appointments. Her website sets this out here and she has confirmed this via her facebook and twitter accounts.

I have never telephoned either of the offices of Lucy Allan but I was going to telephone her office to arrange a surgery appointment after tomorrow if she had still not replied to my email of 4th January 2016 by then. The suggestion of telephoning for a surgery appointment came from the Telford & Wrekin Conservatives themselves on Thursday after I explained to them that I have been contacting Lucy Allan by email but I have not been getting straight answers.

Lucy Allan continues to be very proud of her Contract between herself and the People of Telford which you can see here . She is clearly failing badly in respect of No IV. ‘Be accessible to everyone’ because she has blocked many Telford residents from making comments on her facebook page and now she is refusing to respond to my own genuine question by telling me to stop contacting her offices. I also know from comments that have been made to me that I am not the only Telford resident whose emails have gone unanswered.

Lucy Allan as an MP is expected to follow the House of Commons Code of Conduct. This includes the general principles of Accountability and Openness as set out in Paragraph 8. These state the following:


Holders of public office are accountable for their decisions and actions to the public and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office.


Holders of public office should be as open as possible about all the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands.’

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards unfortunately cannot investigate alleged breaches of Paragraph 8 as she only investigates alleged breaches of Paragraphs 10-16 of the Code of Conduct.  Even though I made an official complaint about Lucy Allan to the Commissioner based on an alleged breach of Paragraph 16 I knew that it stood little chance of success because you have to demonstrate that the conduct ‘would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or its Members generally’ (ie. not just to the individual MP you are complaining about). Indeed the Commissioner confirmed to me last week that she was not going to investigate my complaint but made it clear it is because of the strict tests set out in Paragraph 16 of the Code.

Very few complaints are actually investigated by the Commissioner. The statistics on this can be seen here and the number of complaints currently under inquiry can be seen here.  I agree with the widespread calls for an overhaul of the Parliamentary watchdog and I can recommend a read of this article from the Guardian from last month .Understandably Lucy Allan gets a mention !

Before moving on to my exchange of emails with Lucy Allan I would like to stress that I am one of many people asking the same question which is why she will not publish the email which she says contains the words ‘Unless you die’. This question was being asked by many others on 11th December 2015 on Lucy Allan’s facebook page of various political allegiances. Lucy Allan’s reaction to those comments was to delete over 500 comments and then block many facebook users, including myself and many other Telford residents, from making comments on her facebook page in future. 

Until recently there were still many negative comments about Ms Allan’s non-publication of the ‘Unless you die’ email on her facebook page which were dated 14th December 2015 and they were shown under her re-posted statement about the mis-representation of her constituent’s email. 

 I have noticed for the first time this morning that Lucy Allan has deleted all those comments together with the statement from her facebook page. 

Her statement is still shown on her website and this is the same as the one that was posted on her facebook page except that the latter included the extra sentence ‘I did not claim that either anonymous message was a threat of any kind’.

Last week another Telford constituent emailed Lucy Allan and asked her why she would not publish the ‘Unless you die’ email. Lucy Allan replied very quickly but did not answer the question. Instead Lucy Allan blamed the constituent whose email she had added the words ‘Unless you die’ to and Lucy Allan also blamed the media for reporting the story.

I am grateful to Ian Denny who is not from Telford but, like so many of us, just wants Lucy Allan to be open and accountable. Ian has been previously successfully in exchanging emails with Lucy Allan and his latest message to Lucy Allan from yesterday can be seen here.

Why is it so important to know the answer to the question of why Lucy Allan will not publish the ‘Unless you die’ email ?

It is an obvious answer. It is important to know that our MPs are being open and accountable in line with the House of Commons Codes of Conduct. Without this, there is no trust and I am afraid that I now have no trust whatsoever in Lucy Allan after the way she has conducted herself on this matter and how she has reacted to me by ultimately stopping me from asking her a question she clearly does not wish to answer.

The unpublished email would appear to be the only evidence that would support Lucy Allan’s account that the words ‘Unless you die’ came from a separate anonymous email received on 27th November 2015. 

All she has to do is publish the email which she has already stated is anonymous and does not constitute a threat, or even an extract of that email so that we can understand the context in which the words ‘Unless you die’ were written. How hard is that? It’s not as if we are asking her to do anything difficult like a spacewalk.

 She says the unseen email (or maybe emails plural if you look at her reply to me of 24th December 2015) is amongst those held by the police. However that would not stop her from publishing it. After all she was very quick to release the tape of the telephone threat she received even though that was handed to the police and of course she released the email (albeit misquoted by Ms Allan) from Adam Watling and so what stops her from publishing the anonymous non-threatening email with the words ‘Unless you die’ if it really does exist ?

My exchange of emails with Lucy Allan

My first email was prompted by my comment on Lucy Allan’s facebook page being deleted along with hundreds of other comments on 11th December 2015.

Here is a chronological summary of my email exchange with Lucy Allan and her office, then I show the wording of the emails (except for the Automatic email-acknowledgements).  Please note that in fairness to the assistant, I have left her name blank.

1.       12th December 2015 My email to Lucy Allan headed ‘An urgent question from a Telford constituent’
2.       12th December 2015 Automatic reply from Lucy Allan’s office acknowledging receipt of my email
3.       14th December 2015 Email acknowledgment from Lucy Allan’s assistant.
4.       18th December 2015 My reply to Lucy Allan’s assistant thanking her for her email
5.       22nd December 2015 Reply from Lucy Allan which did not answer my question but just referred me to the statement on her website I had already seen
6.       22nd December 2015 My reply  to Lucy Allan as she had not answered my question
7.       24th December 2015 My reminder to Lucy Allan as I could see that she was back working on social media but had still not answered my original question of 12th December 2015. I headed this email ‘URGENT – your failure to reply to my email’ and copied in the Assistant as well.
8.       24th December 2015 Automatic reply from Lucy Allan’s assistant saying that the office is now closed until 4th February 2016
9.       24th December 2015 Reply from Lucy Allan
10.   4th January 2016 My email to Lucy Allan as I was confused by her reply as it conflicted with her previous statements
11.   4th January 2016 Automatic reply from Lucy Allan’s office acknowledging receipt of my email
12.   14th January 2016 My email to Lucy Allan thanking for acknowledgement and requesting a reply by 18th January 2016, copied to Assistant
13.   14th January 2016 Lucy Allan’s shocking response headed ‘Contacting my office’

My email to Lucy Allan of 12 December 2015
'Hello Lucy, 
I am one of your constituents and I supported you at the election in May.
I hope therefore you will be good enough to respond to me.
I believe that much of the criticism you are receiving can be addressed if you publish the email you received in which you say someone stated 'Unless you die''. If for some reason you cannot publish it you should explain why. You have released the phone call of the verbal threat and so I do not understand why you cannot release the email with the words 'Unless you die'. Until you do so I am afraid that many people will just not understand where these words came from and will believe that you simply made them up. 
You were, of course wrong to attribute these words to Adam Watling (Rusty) and that is something I have never seen before in my life. 
You have put Telford in the national media (Telegraph,Independent,Daily Mail,Spectator,BBC to name but a few) for the wrong reasons and I believe that unless you now give us the full picture with the explanation of the second email that you must now step down.
Yours sincerely
Neil Phillips'

Email from Lucy Allan’s assistant of 14 December 2015

'Dear Neil 
Thank you for emailing Lucy.
The contents of your email have been noted and Lucy aims to respond to all constituents in 5-10 working days.
Best wishes
My reply to Lucy Allan’s assistant of 18 December 2015

Thank you for your email.

I look forward to receiving Lucy's reply shortly and within the timescale you have given to me.


Neil Phillips '

Reply from Lucy Allan of 22 December 2015
'Dear Neil
 Thank you for emailing me. 
Regarding your concern, I have released a statement on this which is as the following: 
“There has been confusion and misreporting surrounding recent social media exchanges involving me. Some headlines and stories have claimed that I invented fake death threats and that I admitted to doing so.
This is emphatically not the case and not something, which I have ever done, or would ever do. The facts are that West Mercia Police are currently investigating a death threat made by telephone to my Telford office. The anonymous male voice message, which was reported to police by a member of my staff, stated:
"Hi Lucy Allan I just want to let you know that soon someone is going to f**king kill you, you f**king b*tch. Hope you die."
At the same time, the Metropolitan Police are investigating a cyber harassment campaign, which has made it difficult for my office staff and me to carry out our roles and duties in Parliament and in Telford.
Regrettably, this level of abuse – often anonymous – has become a fact of political life. I do not believe it is something, which most people would consider to be a proper part of a functioning democracy. Nor do I believe that it is a level of vitriol and frequency of threat with which the vast majority of British people would expect their elected representatives to have to cope on a daily basis.
Sadly, vicious cyber bullying seems to have become the stock-in-trade of certain elements of political parties and some campaigners apparently acting on their behalf. I believe it needs to be stopped. If it is not then there is a real risk that it will drive out of politics many well-intentioned people from all parties. This in turn will inevitably, and perhaps irretrievably, damage voters’ choices in our system of elective democracy. Cyber bullying harms our democracy and we should not stand for it.
I want to make it clear that I do not know who made the death threat on my office answer phone. I am unable to make any connection between it and some of those who regularly direct varying levels of abuse at me on Twitter and Facebook.
Equally, I have acknowledged that a recent Facebook posting made by me drew upon two separate anonymous communications sent to me online. In conflating elements of these two communications, I created a misleading impression, for which I have apologised. In the climate of intimidation created by the sort of cyber abuse to which MPs of all parties are now commonly subjected, on a daily basis, I believe that this error was understandable.
However, it emphatically does not amount to my having invented fake death threats or of ever having admitted to doing so. To claim that I did is wholly false. In reporting what I can only believe was a genuine death threat plus an unacceptable level of social media harassment to the police, I believe I have acted responsibly and within my duties as an MP and my rights as a citizen.”
Although this has been a distraction I will be focusing my attention on what I was elected to do and that is to serve the people of Telford. If you have any other concerns which are not media related then please do not hesitate to contact me.
 Thank you again for contacting me and Merry Christmas.
 Best wishes
My reply  to Lucy Allan of 22 December 2015

'Dear Lucy,

Thank you for your reply.

I have seen your statement thanks.

Unfortunately you have not answered my question which is why you have not published the email which contains the words 'Unless you die'.

Please answer this question rather than avoiding it. If you do not answer it then the only conclusion that I and many other people will draw is that this email does not actually exist. 


Neil Phillips'

My reminder to Lucy Allan of 24 December 2015 as she was back working on social media but had still not answered my question of 12 December 2015

'Dear Lucy,

I note that you have failed to respond to my email of 22nd December 2015 after not giving me a straight answer to my email of 12th December 2015.

I note that you have still failed to publish the email in which you state that the words 'Unless you die' appear.

You are causing many people to be seriously concerned because we cannot understand why you do not publish the email and the only conclusion you are leading us to draw is that the email does not actually exist.

Will you please reply to my email today explaining why you are not publishing the email.

If I do not hear from you by the end of today this matter will have to be taken further because you are clearly failing in your duty to respond to a fair question from one of your constituents on a matter which is extremely serious which you appear to be taking very lightly. 

Yours sincerely

Neil Phillips '

Reply from Lucy Allan of 24 December 2015

'Dear Mr Phillips

I refer to your email.

You have had prompt responses to all your previous communications. Please note the police have a file containing various online malicious communications, which include communications containing the words to which you refer.

For the record it was the son of a Labour Councillor, who falsely claimed I had faked a death threat. This was a bizarre and twisted claim. The reality was, I re posted words on my Facebook page that were sent to me by someone using a false name. I did not suggest at any point  those words amounted to a death threat.  I did not 'make up' the words used. MPs routinely receive this kind of material including me.

I do accept I should not be engaging with these online anonymous trolls and that it was ill judged to try to expose them in the way that I did. For that reason I removed the post within hours.

There office is now closed and there will be no further communication on this matter until January. 

I wish you well. 

Yours sincerely

Lucy Allan MP'

My email to Lucy Allan of 4 January 2016

'Dear Ms Allan,

Thank you for your email of 24th December 2015.

I appreciated you replying to me on Christmas Eve, especially as I had received an earlier Out of Office email from your assistant saying that your Office would not be back open until today.

I just wanted to let you know that I am afraid that I was puzzled after receiving your email. Rather than bringing me clarity on the subject of my email to you I am afraid that your reply left me more confused because of the following two points:

1. Your reply of 'Please note the police have a file containing various online malicious communications, which include communications containing the words to which you refer.' seems inconsistent with your previous statements in which you have stated that there is only one anonymous email which contains the words 'Unless you die'. 

To correct this inconsistency will you please confirm whether you meant to tell me that the words 'Unless you die' actually appear in one single email or whether you did mean to use the word 'communications' plural which would be at odds with your previous statements ?

2. I understand that the Metropolitan Police have a file containing various online malicious communications but can you please tell me why have you not published the anonymous email of 27th November 2015 which contains the words 'Unless you die' ? Is it because the Police have advised you not to publish it or it is because you have chosen not to publish it ?
An early reply would be very much appreciated. 

I wish you well for the New Year of 2016.

Yours sincerely

Neil Phillips '

My email to Lucy Allan of 14 January 2016

'Dear Ms Allan,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of my email of 4th January 2016.

I look forward to receiving a response by Monday 18th January 2016 which I believe fits in with your 10 working days target response time. 

Yours sincerely 

Neil Phillips '

Lucy Allan’s response of 14 January 2016

'Dear Mr Phillips

I am writing to ask that you do not continue to contact my office.

My staff in both London and Telford have expressed concerns about your conduct. They have felt unsettled by your behaviour over a considerable period. It is appearing obsessive in both its frequency, nature and tone. It has been described as 'stalking.'

I have a responsibility to my staff to ensure their wellbeing at work. There is no requirement for them to accept repeatedly unreasonable conduct from residents on such a regular basis. Whilst they are experienced and very professional in dealing with unhappy and angry residents, with empathy and consideration, your behaviour has gone well beyond that. It is unacceptable. 

You are the first Telford resident whom I have had to ask not to contact my office. I have 75,000 constituents to whom I seek to provide a quality service. Your conduct is preventing those with genuine needs and concerns from receiving help and support from their MP.
Any further contact will be considered to be harassment. 

Yours sincerely

Lucy Allan'

That's the end of the email exchange. All I was trying to do was to get a straight answer to a simple question which I asked over a month ago. 

Neil Phillips

17th January 2016