Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Coongate Cover Up

Daz has written here before about the loathsome Andrew Withers, who, it appears, has single handedly brought down the Libertarian Party of the UK.

For those of you not aware of the story, Withers was the Treasurer, then Party Leader, who was outed earlier this year on the Anna Raccoon blog as a crook and a conman. When investigations began into his party activities it became clear that, following his stewardship, there was 16p in the bank account, a loan outstanding, and most of the money had been withdrawn by Withers himself as "expenses". How much he took is unclear as, to this day, he has refused to allow anyone access to the relevant bank accounts.

The situation would have been recoverable except that, in order to effect a cover up, it was necessary for Withers to destroy the evidence and, to do that, he believed he had to destroy the party. His familiar tactics were to bully and threaten the other party officials with legal action and this proved effective as he turned the heat on one after another.

A sample of the style

"Fuck impatience by others we do this legimately not by mob rule. He either talks to me or my lawyers I don' t care. I either get an apology for this shit this morning in writing not email or I place this with lawyers monday

In the meantime one more email this weekend on this subject and you will not know what hit any of you. Just fuck off and leave me alone."

And of course threats like this were effective- because legal action for libel (however unlikely it was from someone who required to withdraw party funds when he went to Tesco) was potentially ruinous for the individual threatened.

Why take such a risk?

Withers succeeded in getting the Party Chairman and many others on the NCC to resign and tried to have the party de-registered with the Electoral Commission. Having failed in this, he turned his attention to the website, not targeting those members brave enough to publicly call him out for what he had done, but threatening the person in whose name the domain was registered. This resulted in comments and posts being closed down and the website was mothballed.

Earlier this week it seems Withers was unhappy that new membership subscriptions were apparently being diverted from the party bank account that remains under his control.

"Unfortunately the repeat advertising of 'unofficial' bank details
means that I have to report this matter to the Electoral Commission as
it is not part of the approved financial scheme, and I have to report
the same to the Information Commissioner as I am the Data Protection
Officer for the Party.

I cannot understand why some people are continually trying to break
the law. I am faced with no other option to place this matter in the
hands of the legal authorities to deal with."

The above was the final straw for the host and, yesterday, the website came down.

The point of detailing the above is to demonstrate that with Coongate, as with Watergate, it was not the original action itself that caused the devastation but the necessity to cover it up. Because no single individual had contributed a great sum of money to the Libertarian Party- a large number of people had each given small sums, along with their time and effort, in pursuit of a belief in the right to greater individual freedom.

That is what has been lost.

Avon and Somerset police are currently investigating the conduct of Andrew P Withers and anyone with any direct knowledge relating to this matter should contact them.


  1. Nicely done Ken

    First up it should be made clear that we are not talking about Andrew Withers the Southern Fried Chicken millionaire. They are two entirely different people!!

    I came to the conclusion some time ago that APW may actually be a political enemy of ours who saw destroying LPUK as a two birds one stone situation.

    My real anger is towards those in the higher echelons of the party who were taken in by him and didn't ask questions - I apprecaite you and Andy made noises without success while Stuart wasn't even allowed to attend the meetings.

    The spirit of Libertarianism lives on through this site and its friends...

  2. I doubt the truth will ever come out. I have moved on - Wirral First is a much more meaningful campaign.

  3. Trouble is Daz no one knew each other very well, communication even before all this was very poor (was a bit of an alarm bell when Nic didn't even know the full membership). Plus Andrew had been a founder member so people were prepared to give him the benefit of doubt.

  4. Andy - that's a fair point up to a point. Nic either made a complete hash of the 'investigation' or was complicit in a cover-up. Libertarians believe in rules without fear or favour so Andrew's 'svengali' status should never have come into it.

    As stated earlier, I appreciate that after Ken you were the one asking the most pertinent questions within the NCC, and the fact you resigned shows genuine integrity.

    How's the Random Thoughts blog going?

  5. It seems I was correct that Andrew Withers lacks the funds to buy his fish and chips tonight.


    Please don't feed him!!!!

  6. He clearly hasn't caught onto the Southern Fried chicken scam that being called Andrew Withers will enable him to pull?


  7. It is a tragedy that the LPUK had a thief,liar and parasite as a founding member and leader, but that does not detract in any way from the correctness of Libertarianism as a political philosophy and the need to advance Libertarian principles through political action in Britain.

    I only contributed a couple of hundred quid to the LPUK for Withers to mis-use, but the quantity is not the issue. Bent politicians must be dealt with irrespective of whether it is in tiny Parties or big ones.

    Anybody who is concerned that the money they gave to the LPUK has been misused should pass on their complaint to Avon & Somerset Police who already have a crime number allocated to this matter.

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  10. Peter H Fairbanks20 July 2011 at 07:23

    Basically Ferguson you are a pathological liar.

    Far from destroying the LPUK the legal officers including Withers stopped the statutory deregistration by the Electoral Commission by paying all outstandings and raising funds to clear all debts.

    You on the other hand turned the party site into a personal blog for heaping abuse and threats on members. You on the other hand have admitted diverting funds to an unregistered account and will not explain what the money is being used for.

    Why don't you man up as to why the lpuk.org went offline. Was it not your own incompetence? Instead you blame Withers.

    In three months all you have done is attack the lpuk while the world burns. You were always a conniving plant looking to destroy the LPUK from within.

    Let's see who gets investigated here. Anybody who believes a word you say is an idiot.

    Peter H Fairbanks

  11. I don't know who Peter Fairbanks is, but this kind of abuse is typical of the behaviour of people supporting Withers.

    The Scottish Libertarian piece written by John Watson is a repetition of the same rambling nonsense he has come up with all along.

    Watson became LPUK treasurer at the AGM in December 2010, but he never did the job. Withers has always maintained control of the LPUK money even when Watson was legally responsible for it.

    Thousands of pounds have gone into the accounts controlled by Withers and it has all gone. Withers has never accounted for this money, but such information as is available shows money going out of the LPUK accounts into Withers' personal accounts. Without proper records and authorisation by the NCC, this is not the 'normal' behaviour claimed by Watson, it is misappropriation.

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  13. John, I can't speak for Mal - what I do know is that his offer was temporary, with the offer to pay for a forensic audit of the accounts from his own monies if needs be. Interesting how you're denied the tools to do your job, a blatant breach of the constitution, but then when Mal puts a solution on the table on a temporary basis the powers that be hide behind the same document.

    Withers was never going to give Mal the books and so his offer 'expired' if you will and was withdrawn as a result.

    John, I hold no brief towards you either way, but did it not occur to you that you needed the books in full to do the job for which you were elected (albeit unopposed)? If you were asking for this access and kept being refused it, then the answer was simple - resign.

    A lot of people seem to have rolled over when they had the opportunity to force the fucking parasite into a corner and that's immensely disappointing.

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  15. Hi John

    Mal made it very clear he had 'retired' from frontline politics and had no intention of seeking election or doing the job on a permanent basis. He was 'offered' the chance to stand for a job at the SGM, not the job itself. His right to stand for the position of treasurer is something he already holds under the constitution. It was not Nic Coombe's to 'offer' him.

    Mal was offering a quick once over of the accounts, to establish the truth and it's unsurprising that if he was paying for a skilled accountant to look at the books, he didn't want to hand the money to the same people believed to have misappropriated funds.

    Mal's offer was genuine - not that he ever believed Withers would hand the books over. We spoke about it and he was up for doing it, but only if given the tools to do the job as it should have been.

    John I have a mid-level accountancy qualification myself, but what is the point of doing any job with both hands tied behind your back? I'd gladly re-join Withers' pretend Libertarian Party just to run against him as leader, win, hand the keys over to Gavin Webb and propose a motion to expel Withers from anything containing the word Liberal or Libertarian for life!!

    He's not gonna let that happen though is he?!!

  16. Daz, can we have Vinegar Tits back? It was preferable to reading John Watson continuing to tell his old war stories about how he did nothing whilst LPUK died.


  17. As Daz has said, I have always made clear that I will not take any role in the LPUK on a permanent basis because I have retired and I am not interested in doing anything other than being an active Party member.

    My offer to take on the Treasurer's position temporarily to allow the Party to continue to function and to establish whether the accounts were in good order was never withdrawn. To his credit, John Watson initially supported my offer, but he quickly backed off that. Withers was clearly horrified by my offer which would have required him to immediately hand over bank account access and all financial documents and software.

    In his post above Watson says "he then immediately withdraw the offer". This is a lie. I never withdrew my offer at any stage. Unfortunately this kind of thing has been done repeatedly. Some lie is told and then it is repeated in multiple emails until people who are unfortunate enough to follow this stuff have it imprinted on their minds that these things really happened.

    Three important things really did happen.

    1. Watson was LPUK treasurer from the December 2010 AGM until his resignation was recorded by the Electoral Commission, but he never did the job and never had the tools to do it.

    2. Withers has kept control of LPUK funds before, during and after the time that Watson was legally responsible for them.

    3.At least £15,000, and possibly a lot more, has been paid into the LPUK. All of it is gone and it has not been properly authorised and accounted for. Withers has ignored all requests for an explanation of what he has done with the money.

  18. It is really annoying me that John Watson repeatedly refers to emails, etc. being leaked.

    Let us be absolutely clear about this. LPUK members are entitled to know what is going on. It is our Party and our money. Political Parties are not secret societies and after all the revelations of financial corruption in the big Parties we should be doing absolutely everything possible to make sure that all members know everything about what is going on at the NCC and between the officers of the Party.

    The only reason for not making everything open is because you are either ashamed of your behaviour or guilty of misbehaviour.

    John Watson was suddenly very keen on putting out information when Withers and Parker-Joseph tried to blacken my character with what they mistakenly thought would be embarrassing articles about me.

    Don't complain about leaks or hide behind false claims about data protection problems. Tell everything you know and let us bring a close to this matter.

  19. Good of you to put things straight Mal

    And I'll be careful not to sound patronising since I only turn 30 in January myself, but did it not occur to John, Max and others that they were being trusted with very senior positions for folk so young?

    The reality was that these were the human shields in legal possession of the smoking gun if it ever went off. So excited were many of them (remember the childish giggling of kids on the old LPUK site) they failed to see that they were in place to take the rap when the shit hit the fan.

    Sad really, but it happens to be true...John, I don't have any ill-feeling towards you whatsoever I just wish you'd understand how badly you were used by this scumbag.

  20. "However onto the accounts, if any one wants to access them then simply become a permanent treasurer"

    Like you were? What good would that do?

    "Please also do research into why the last treasurer (before Andrew) stood down to get a bigger picture."

    That is a back handed smear. If you are implying Chris Mounsey is a crook and you have some evidence, put it in the public domain.

    "Regarding Andrew not handing over the accounts to SimonF, maybe some one should also ask Andrew why to get a complete picture."

    That is also a back handed smear. If you are implying Simon Fawthrop is a crook and you have some evidence, put it in the public domain.

    Otherwise, understand you volunteered to jump in this particular hole and, for your own sake, stop digging.

  21. "Just heard from one source Sue Mundy is doing another of her Andrew articles (I think it is a wee bit obsessive)."

    Obsessive? This is the first time I have publicly commented since my original blog article!

    If you wish to address me by my husband's name rather than my well known pen name or my publicly acknowledged real name - would you please try to get it right? It is Nundy, not Mundy.

    "At one point Andrew was accepting Sue Mundy to be invited back into the party,
    him taking a back seat and so on, until restart of the blog attacks."

    That is news to me and was certainly not at my instigation - I have had no contact with any party officials since the first few days after my original blog post, including several phone conversations with you and Max. The only indication I have ever had that there was any question of me being involved with the party again was a 'suggestion' from Max, that he 'was fairly sure' that Andrew 'could be persuaded' to pay me another £1,000 if I would agree to take my original post down, apparently he was upset by the high Google rating of that post and had intimated that he might pay his debts in return for its removal - I am sure that Max will confirm that I told him to pass the message back to whoever had made this daft suggestion, in two words.....get stuffed! If Andrew wants to pay his debts, then pay them! - don't try to negotiate with my integrity, I would only agree to take a blog post down if I had said something untrue.
    My original blog post was addressed to my readers, to explain to them why someone who I had openly championed, supported, and recommended to them was no longer writing on my blog, and was putting up posts on their own blog making dark hints regarding 'ex-pats' and the French tax authorities.
    For that reason, and no other reason, I made the decision to tell my readers exactly the background to the entire affair. That other party members were interested in some of the background and made their own further enquiries which has led to the downfall of the party is not my concern - nor was it my intention, had I any idea of some of the other issues that have emerged, I would have stated them in that blog post.
    Andrew has been the author of his own misfortune. No one else. He might care to reflect on the wisdom of inferring that having finally paid 1000 euros off an eight month old debt that the recipient was less than transparent with their tax affairs.......I was, and remain, thoroughly outraged at that suggestion.

  22. JW - maybe you should start your own animal based blog - how about "impotent weasel"?

  23. John

    "Chris was not the last treasurer, the treasurer before Andrew as far as I believe was privately accused of the same things that you are publicly accusing Andrew of."

    Who was this mystery man? Who told you this? Chris M has stated that he passed the accounts to Withers.

    "There was some real efforts from Andrew at the beginning of May however due to the restart of the blog attacks, it just all went down hill. "

    You blame the delays in Withers attaching pdfs of bank statements to an email, a ten minute job, on- a court case, his wife's illness, the death of a friend and the fact that people began asking what happened to their money.

    And this after you must have been alerted to the possibility you were dealing with a conman!!!

    Please understand that no blame attaches to either you or Simon F for failing to get control of the accounts. Withers was never going to hand them over.

    If you are guilty of anything it is naivete (and possibly verbosity) and even now you seem to be in denial as to what happened.

    You have had a valuable experience in all of this but it will only be helpful to you in the future if you face up to the events and learn from them.

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