An anonymous hoax emailer has been posing as Greenwich councillor John Fahy in an attempt to get incriminating information about whether or not he leaked a bullying voicemail left by council leader Chris Roberts, this website can reveal.
Fahy was at the centre of controversy last year when Roberts left a foul-mouthed message on his phone threatening him with the removal of his cabinet position in a row over the Run to the Beat half-marathon.
The message was later published by the News Shopper, and featured in a BBC1 Sunday Politics London investigation into Roberts’ behaviour as council leader.
While Roberts was given a written warning over the incident, this website understands Fahy, the victim of Roberts’ threats, was punished twice over the incident. He was given a verbal warning over the leak of the email, but earlier this year he was given a written warning for not saying who the message had been leaked to.
Fahy has previously challenged Roberts for the position of council leader, which led to him being literally airbrushed out of an edition of the council’s weekly Greenwich Time newspaper.
But when the new council returns after the election, this website understands he will challenge Peter Brooks for the deputy leadership. Brooks is Roberts’ current deputy and was selected for the outgoing leader’s Glyndon seat at the last minute. (The leadership will be contested by Denise Hyland and Jackie Smith.)
Now somebody has taken it upon themselves to pose as Fahy, fishing for information about the leak of the voicemail.
On Easter Monday, I received an email from “John Fahy”, reading: “Darryl, they know it… I am not confortable with this situation. We should talk.
Did you keep the recording on your personal email?”
But the mail wasn’t from John Fahy. It came from someone aping his personal email address, using the letter “l” instead of the figure “1”.
And oddly, the IP address in the email header suggested it’d been sent from a computer connected to Portugal Telecom’s network. What was all that about?
Impersonating somebody online is potentially illegal under the Computer Misuse Act. So why would somebody go to the extent of risking breaking the law to try to con me into giving up information about a serving councillor’s personal issues within the Labour Party?
I sought some advice, and a few days later I responded asking “John” to look at a dummy post on this website. It was a crude method – those who read this site via an RSS feed may have seen something odd a couple of weeks ago, which was live temporarily before I changed the address.
None of these companies will be directly connected with this incident. The Facebook references indicate that the link has been shared on Facebook Messenger. Exponential-E provides IT services for small firms, so this could be one of its clients. It’s a sub-contractor to Focus Telecom, which provides IT services for the Labour Party.
Was my response to the fake Fahy seen on a Labour Party computer?
Then I had another go, again asking “John” to have a look at a document (“roberts_email.pdf”) supposedly hosted on another website. The document didn’t exist, but the error logs would show if the address was requested. On May Day bank holiday, it sprang into life.
Someone had clearly wised up to the fact they were being watched. Now, the IP addresses were designed to obscure the sender’s real location, although it appears the same brower was used each time.
But someone had added the words “we know everything” to the address I’d supplied. Hmmm.
A response email came with a small graphics file, too, presumably designed to track me opening the email.
It’s hosted on a free hosting service and difficult to track.
It appears to have been sent from Portugal again, too. Strange.
So for people who claim “we know everything”, why were they doing this? But there was one extra bit of the jigsaw to fall into place.
Back on Easter Monday, Rob Powell, who runs Greenwich.co.uk, received this odd email:
But I never heard anything from “Yasmin” at “Local Health Service”. Guess where the email appears to have been sent from?
Another Portugal Telecom connection. Does this mean the emails were sent from there? Not necessarily – one IT expert I’ve spoken to says some web traffic is sent via there to obscure the sender’s true location.
But this common link between all three emails indicates somebody’s gone to great lengths to try to trick me, and stitch up John Fahy. But why?
Of course, this could have nothing to do with rivalries in the Greenwich Council Labour group, the Greenwich & Woolwich Labour Party or the Eltham Labour Party. But frankly, it’s highly unlikely – somebody seems to know what they’re doing.
Considering Fahy has already been disciplined twice for being the victim of an abusive phone call, it looks like someone decided to break the law to go for a hat-trick.
I wish I’d been able to investigate some more, but I was doing what Labour Party members should have been doing instead of fighting each other – helping with a campaign against the Tory mayor’s Silvertown Tunnel.
The real John Fahy declined to comment when asked.
I’ve sent Labour’s minister for London Sadiq Khan – who last year promised to investigate bullying accusations in Greenwich – general secretary Iain McNicol and London regional director Alan Olive details of what happened.
Khan, McNicol and Olive have been happy to continue to let the Greenwich Council Labour group police itself – despite its witch hunts against whistle-blowers.
Local MP Nick Raynsford, along with Greenwich and Woolwich candidate Matt Pennycook have also been informed. I’ve said I’ll be willing to help with any investigation.
Neither of these five individuals have yet responded.
I’ve also passed on details of this incident to Ray Walker, the Greenwich Labour group chief whip in charge of party discipline under Chris Roberts, and Eltham party secretary, who worked as an IT analyst for the Labour Party for nearly 20 years. He has also not responded.