Why did Mr Anonymous turn?

I remain confused about the total lack of media interest in the sudden reversal of opinion by the anonymous former applicant for the Ashton Vale judicial review. The unusual nature of it all has fired up my inquisitive side.

Why did this man, who previously supported the Judicial Review cause enough to volunteer to put himself right at the centre of the storm, apparently suddenly decide that not only did he not support it any more but, if the letters are to be believed, has gone out of his way to sabotage the entire JR?

Why would he try to stop anyone else from taking his place?

Why would he try to discredit his own solicitors?

Why didn’t he contact SAVE or his own solicitors to let them know of his intentions before issuing this letter?

Why did he apparently tell his former solicitors that he didn’t remember signing such a letter… and then allegedly send another one just a couple of days later?

Which firm of lawyers drafted the letter(s) for him, given that it didn’t appear on headed paper?

Why does the letter tick every box that a pro-stadium lawyer would think up to bring the JR to an end?

Did he even send these letters, or did someone else send them on his behalf?

Why did Bristol City Council black out the section where he apparently transfers all legal power to his stepson before publishing it?

You can read his original letter to the High Court pulling out of the JR here and draw your own conclusions:



You can see the full version (still without names of course) here:


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  1. Mike B
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    Confused ? Yes the whole saga appears to be heading the way of a Brian Rix farce.

    The Council’s representatives were not invited to be present, or even made aware, that the courts were due to make this decision…
    “We shall be seeking to reverse this decision in the strongest terms next week when it is reviewed by the courts.”

    I really don’t undestand how the Judge can even think about making a ruling if both sides are not present.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of the debate the legal system in this country appears to require a major overhaul.

    Paper, Scissors, Stone best of 3. Anyone ?

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

      I think that they will be flogging a dead horse on that one. In granting the judicial review in the first place it established that there was a potential public interest. Swapping one anonymous person for another makes no difference to the substance of the JR.

      Hence any opposition to it will have to be on technical grounds I suspect and it will be hard to argue that it is no longer in the public interest when they already have someone lined up to continue the application.

      I do hope that they call in the former applicant to explain himself however.

      I am not a lawyer of course, and just stating how I see it.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      I should add that I don’t think that either side was present – the judge just made a decision.

    • bert
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Turns out this is untrue as well.

      The Council received faxed service of this application.

      The Council are liars.

  2. Rob
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Ooooh. Nice. A witch-hunt. How charming.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

      Yup, it is unpleasant, but given that he seems to have deliberately attempted to shut down the JR that LA residents have £5K invested in, I think that we have a right to know.

  3. Jack
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    If Mr Anonymous didn’t send the letters, why the panic to change the name on the JR application?

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Because he did confirm that he wanted out – so he had to be replaced. The confusion arises because he told his former solicitors when they managed to contact him that he didn’t recall ‘signing’ anything. It certainly doesn’t sound from that as if he wrote them.

      I have heard that he had come under a lot of pressure, and a number of people, who have more knowledge of this than I do, don’t believe that he sent those letters and think that he is at least partly a victim. Now that he is incommunicado, we have no easy way of finding out what has really gone on unfortunately.

  4. Marvin
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Cllr, would you agree with me that your blogging is morally reprehensible and serves only to fan the flames?

    For someone who was so keen in other postings to let the legal processes take their course, you now appear to be just acting as another member of the militia.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

      Unsurprisingly I wouldn’t agree with that. The purpose of blogs is to put issues into the public domain. Sometimes they are uncomfortable. I think that it is always worth questioning when things look suspicious. If this man is a victim, then that is just as important to find out.

      If there is something specific that you find ‘morally reprehensible’ then by all means point it out.

  5. C Griffin
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    Anthony, Mr Crispin and his cronies seems to know a lot about Mr X. Why don’t you ask him?

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      The problem is that he has disappeared, so that won’t help a great deal in finding out what went on.

      • C Griffin
        Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

        How do you know he’s disappeared?

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          By ‘disappeared’ I meant that he can’t be contacted. He could just be screening his calls of course (understandably).

          • C Griffin
            Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

            How do you know he cannot be contacted? Contacted by whom? You? Mr Crispin? The Solicitors? Perhaps he’s sick of being intimidated, oh hang on…….

  6. Ian
    Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    As nobody was supposed to know the identity of the original claimant, how did the defendant or their solicitors (because that is what you are hinting at) find out who he was and (in your words) entice him to change sides?.

    Perhaps he just got fed up with Mr Crispin, the SAVE & (probably mainly) ‘his’ solicitors constantly pestering him or telling him what to do, perhaps he wanted to do it for himself or god forbid, he came to his senses and realised that the development is good for the majority of people in South Bristol.

    The SAVE group have hoodwinked the judge (again) into allowing the prospect of another JR with unfounded insinuations and they will be exsposed next week when BCC put the truthful side of the whole debacle.

    The judge states that it is in the public interest to get this case heard, well I think it is in the public interest to have the heath service PFIs investigated as well as the banks but will I get my way………..no chance because it’s a job for the boys.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think that those are my words and I haven’t intended to hint at anything specific. I am asking questions, however, since clearly the available information doesn’t add up to a consistent picture.

      It is possible that he became fed up with it all, but that still wouldn’t really explain why his letters would be so out of character and specifically designed to sabotage the JR. Having chosen to put himself as the applicant it would be odd to become fed up with what that entails in such a short period of time.

      He could have had a change of heart, as you say, but this seems unlikely. Would someone who believes in it so passionately that they were willing to put themselves in the potential firing line really turn around so quickly and so vehemently? It doesn’t ring true to me at all.

      Neither of these explanations cover why he claimed not to remember signing the original letter to his solicitors. If he had a change of heart, and had gone to the effort of drafting that letter why would he say otherwise?

      • James
        Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:27 am | Permalink

        Anthony, sorry, all this talk of conspiracy has now got me sucked in..would you just clarify?

        Earlier this week you specifically said you had “no idea who the claimant was”..yet above you say “so out of character”.

        Is that just the character you believe of him, or his actual character? Clearly if it’s the latter then I am perplexed.?

        Bloody X files..

        • Anthony Butcher
          Posted 24th February, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

          I don’t know who he is, but other people do – and the feedback is that this is this whole thing would have been entirely out of character.

  7. Posted 23rd February, 2012 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re right to ask questions; the whole set up just doesn’t make sense.

    If I were a court official receiving the withdrawal letter, I’d certainly want to check its validity, and whether it was written under duress. It’s hard to believe that it’s the applicant’s own words, it’s so full of the formalities that the court requires, it covers all the legal bases (especially substitution) and it adds a legally irrelevant bit that seems more designed for public spin than to meet any legal need.

    Of course, he could have had a change of heart and contacted third party solicitors who haven’t had the professional courtesy to contact the previous solicitors or to identify themselves. That would seem pretty far-fetched – except that the alternatives are rather darker.

    It certainly needs clarification, or it becomes a rich field for conspiracy theorists.

    • Ryan
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      Oh another outside having his two penneth. What happened to letting the legal processes happen? No, let’s just stir things up and sling some sh*t around. It’ll stick with those pesky football hoolie types.

      • Anthony Butcher
        Posted 24th February, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

        Hi Ryan. This doesn’t really appear to sit within the legal process as things stand. Unless the chap gets called in to court to explain his apparent U-turn, we may never find out what really happened.

        I don’t see it as ‘slinging ****’ because I am not actually accusing anyone of anything – just asking some glaring questions that our media have chosen to ignore.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Pete.

      As you say it is odd that the court official doesn’t appear to have regarded it as suspicious, but the same applies to the council. Why were they so desperate to (wrongly) declare it all over? My first instinct when reading the letter was to assume it was a fake because it is so ridiculously convenient for the defence team. I would think therefore that the council should have thought the same and should have asked for it to be verified.

  8. bert
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    The letter everyone is analysing has two key sections blacked out by the Council:

    - para 5 of the letter makes the unknown applicant’s stepson the “legal guardian and sole representative” of the applicant

    - the applicant’s stepson is also the sole witness to the letter – also blacked out by the Council

    So the letter was written by this Stepson, who now has full authority to act on behalf of the applicant. No explanation as to why he should need a “legal guardian”.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Bert. Do you have a source for this please? It seems to be a rather important new piece of information, and an odd twist, in the puzzle.

  9. bert
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    Yes I do. I have the unredacted version of the letter on the table in front of me.

    The Council know as they were the ones who blacked out all the key sections.

    so any 2nd letter (reported yesterday) could only have been written by the new legal guardian. The poor applicant has no power to act in his own interests anymore

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

      Thank you. I have to say that this makes the whole thing even more suspicious to me. It wouldn’t take a huge leap to think that the letter was in fact written by his stepson, as was the follow up letter. That would explain the apparently ‘out of character’ nature of the wording.

      If this is the case then I really do think that BCC and the court should have taken the matter far more seriously, especially since they had seen the uncensored version. Surely it can’t be a common event for the person at the centre of a court case to suddenly hand over all legal responsibility to someone else, completely reverse their opinion and try to sabotage the cause that their friends and neighbours support?

      The problem is that the chap hasn’t spoken out or contacted anyone to suggest that he is in any way unhappy with the events that have taken place. Therefore at the moment it doesn’t really matter whether he wrote them or not because he appears to have accepted it in his name.

    • Anthony Butcher
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      Is it even legal for the person named as the guardian to also be the witness? That seems remarkably open to abuse.

      • bert
        Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        Of course its not lawful. No beneficiary of a document can witness it.


        1. Why did the Council delete the key sections ?
        2. Why did they not refer this to the police ?
        3. Why is the applicant now a Ward of his stepson ? Why is he being denied the right to conduct his own affairs ?
        4. Why did the council crow this as a victory when it is on its face so obviously corrupt.

        The only matter which is now clearer is why it took a judge so little time to allow a substitute.

        • James
          Posted 24th February, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

          Clearly “Bert” is very much in the know , and is also posting a lot if this information on other outlets, for this reason there is absolutely no reason to doubt it’s validity.

          However, it is just as clear that “Bert” is also a supporter of the “TVG” campaign group, so cannot be expected to offer a particularly balanced view.

          However, what is clear are a couple of answers to a couple of questions posed.

          1) because to do so would breach the legal confidentiality insisted in by the judges in both the original and subsequent review appeal. Identification of the legal guardian of an anonymous claimant would identify the claimant.
          2) because no crime has been committed.
          3) possibly because the TVG spokesperson Alderman Crispin suggested he was a “sick old man”
          4) because they received a clear instruction from the sole individual named in the appeal stating that he was withdrawing his complaint. Not bright, but understandable based on how much they wanted this put to bed.

          What does concern me about these posts “Bert” is you do seem to be genuinely concerned and on that basis I would urge you to contact the police if you believe there has been, or is, any threat to an individuals rights or indeed health.

          Everyone on both sides has extremely strongly held views, however there cannot be 1 sane person who wishes ill upon any individual, be they for or against this matter.

          This has now gotten even more out of hand, something stinks somewhere and due process must be followed, irrespective of whether it results in a long delay.

          • bert
            Posted 24th February, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

            I have been told that the police have known this information longer than I have

  10. Bob
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    How can you do this.
    Mr x is the named person,he has to withdraw himself legaly.
    How can you ask a 3rd party to take over your responsibilities just by knocking up a letter and then the 3rd party witnessing his own creation.
    If the letter was home made and not legally created then how can anyone accept the contents.
    How can you verify Mr x,s intentions.
    There is still something missing.
    So ineffect the letter is not from Mr x. it is from someone else and the contents could be total rubbish.

    • bert
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      The other questions you should be asking are:

      Why is it that the BBC, ITV and BEP all know the truth of the matter, but are not reporting it ?

      What sort of press do we have in this City which would suppress this information ?

      • Anthony Butcher
        Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

        I suppose that without a statement from him that he wishes to withdraw it, there’s no real evidence of anything untowards happening. If he had made a mistake, a poor choice, or had felt pressured into signing the letter, he has had plenty of time since then to come forward and make that clear. So, unless he is under some kind of on-going duress, we can only really assume that he is happy with the current state of affairs.

        I am still surprised that the media don’t appear to have taken any interest though. Perhaps they just don’t have enough information for a piece and really can’t be bothered to investigate?

        • bert
          Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

          The media have all the information they need.

          They know the council has lied to them

          They are unprepared to make news which they think will be unpopular with football fans and the powerful in this city

          They are selling a news product. They are not journalists

        • bert
          Posted 24th February, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          All I am saying is true and it is now widely known.

          I have no idea how they are planning to appeal.

  11. bert
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    In case I cannot make it clearer, all the main media outlets in this City know the truth of the contents of this document and all are keeping it quiet.

  12. bert
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    In case anyone is wondering, the applicant has been missing for 5 days now.

  13. Bob
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

    So a few things.
    The lawyers statement that the letter was invalid maybe true.
    Is what Bert is saying actually true.
    And if all that has been commented is true how can the BCC actually appeal.

    • bert
      Posted 24th February, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      All I am saying is true and it is now widely known.

      I have no idea how they are planning to appeal

      • Chris
        Posted 24th February, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

        This is getting faintly absurd now.

        Firstly, this person signed the letter, that is all that matters. He put his name to the words.

        It is legal for a guardian to witness a signature, that’s kind of the point of being a guardian.

        Of course the council have grounds for appeal, whether its upheld or not is anyone’s guess, but all this nonsense being spouted here is laughably inaccurate.

  14. The Bristol Blogger
    Posted 24th February, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Just to back up Bert, I have the same unredacted letter with the same content in front of me.

  15. A WALKER
    Posted 25th February, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    This whole project has been a master class in how not to do things properly and I suspect many a career will have been finished by it. The facts are that the decision is now in the hands of the legal profession and this latest episode was only a last ditch legal attempt to thwart that process. They appear to have lost so lets just put it behind us and await a just decision from the judge whichever way it goes

  16. Mike B
    Posted 25th February, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I have taken the liberty off cut and pasting this post off OTIB as it seems a very reasonable and knowledgeable post as is certainly worthy of discussion/ comment.:-

    It seems to me that we have all been victims of ill-informed statements from BCC and inaccurate reporting by the BBC, the EP and others.
    Having read the latest Court Order it is clear that this is not a second judicial review (as has been reported) but simply the joining of a second claim to the existing action. The other amendments (i.e. dates for submission etc.) have been made for simple practicality and (subject to adequate security of costs) there should be no further delay to the review. The effect of joining a second claimant to the existing action will allow the first claimant to withdraw (for whatever reason) without bringing an end to the action – effectively a substitution.

    I can see nothing in the court order which suggests that BCC may appeal against the joinder/substitution next week or any other time – It is of course open to BCC to claim (in its defence in the judicial review rather than separately) that the action cannot continue because of an invalid claim/substitution but provided that the new claimant has a valid interest (and had a valid interest at the time of the first claim) in BCC’s town green decision, such a claim is in my opinion doomed to fail.

    The reality is that HHJ Thornton was simply following precedent in regard to the joining in or substitution of a new claimant in a public law action (e.g. River Thames Society and Lady Berkeley v First Secretary of State and others [2006]EWCA 2829(Admin)). In this case Lady Berkeley sought to pursue an action originally commenced by River Thames Society following the society’s decision to withdraw. It was argued and accepted that the restrictions on substitution laid out in CPR19 had not been satisfied but the judge decided these rules should not be applied to public law cases. The reason cited was that it was not unusual in a public law case for a single claimant to unofficially represent a number of potential claimants, all of which were similarly affected by the decision under scrutiny and all of which stood to benefit to a similar extent in the event the claim was successful. On this basis the judge considered that denial of substitution may lead to significant injustice where the only reason the second claimant had not pursued a claim from the outset was that someone else was pursuing it for him/her. Ultimately, if the Court was to refuse substitution it would leave the door open for those resisting the claim to simply “pick-off” the single claimant (by payment or otherwise) or even to sponsor its own claimant with the intention of withdrawing as soon as the relevant deadline has passed. On this reading, the reasons for the first claimant’s withdrawal (and the second claimant’s motivation) are completely irrelevant to HHJ Thornton’s decision and there are simply no ground available to BCC to resist the substitution (hence BCC was not invited to participate this week).

    Moving on the case for the judicial review itself, from my understanding the Court has decided a review is appropriate because:

    1. in deciding to make part (but not all) of the site a town green, BCC has (pragmatically and sensibly in my view) effectively approved an application which was not in fact actually made – whether or not BCC has the requisite authority to act in this way is a technical matter of law which in my opinion could go either way; and

    2. if BCC did have the authority to act in the way it did – was its decision reasonable and rational taking account of all relevant facts/evidence and disregarding irrelevant facts/evidence – it is my understanding that any benefit to be gained from the stadium development which may have been relevant in granting planning permission to develop on green-belt land are considered irrelevant for the town green issue – hence BCC decision must be justified solely on the new evidence presented by SL/BCFC to demonstrate that the part of the site required for the stadium does not satisfy the qualifying criteria for a town green.

    It seems to be that having previously initiated and sponsored a thorough review of the evidence (leading to the recommendation to give the whole site town green status) BCC elected not to give the new evidence the same degree of scrutiny. This cannot be fatal but will require BCC to demonstrate to the Court that the new evidence is sufficiently incontravertible to lead a reasonable authority to the conclusion that the landfill site does not qualify. I would be reasonably optimistic that BCC can succeed on this point.

    Finally, it is my understanding that even if the judicial review finds against BCC the effect will simply be to make the decision to make part of the site a town green a nullity and hence will require BCC to reconsider – it is not for the judicial review to make its own decision on the evidence! This being the case, the worst possible outcome would simply put BCC back in the position it was before it made its decision – i.e. an independent recommendation to award the whole site town green status which to a degree has been superseded by new and conflicting evidence in regard to part of the site. I believe that the landfill site at least will eventually become available for development.

    Having said all of this, I fear that this new stadium project will ultimately fail for the same reason BCFC’s previous proposal for Hengrove (and the other lot’s proposals for Carsons Green and redevelopment of the rugby ground) failed – namely, no sustainable business case – the level of need and the promise of potential income simply cannot justify the level of effort and investment required. However, it cannot be denied that pursuit of the new stadium has already excused several years of non-existent investment in and unchecked delapidation of Ashton Gate.

  17. bobs
    Posted 25th February, 2012 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Mike B

    The above is partly accurate but not very. It is also a wholly pro-council interpretation of the law.

    More importantly, it is clearly an attempt to move people on from the disgraceful episode with the covered up letter – the council hiding key information which portrayed the letter in an entirely different light to that widely reported.

    There are enough people about who will not simply let this conduct by the Council go.

    Also, too many of us heard the shock jock conduct of certain “impartial” BBC journalists who will be asked to apologise and retract their comments made to Peter Crispin and others.

  18. bobs
    Posted 25th February, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    And Mike B

    Is this the type of “place” that you wish Bristol to be “making” itself into ?

    I thought we were more after a Milan image than Palermo !

  19. Bob
    Posted 25th February, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Mike B,s post a sensible analysis of the TVG situation.
    The only part i would question is the “the new evidence conclusion”.
    Although the BCC were entitled to oppose the registration by what ever legal means,any evidence that was used should have the same legal scrutiny as the original evidence in the hearings for the TVG application.
    The ability to just produce a list statements from people and use them to alter a decision without some opposing comment cannot be fair law.
    That evidence was available at the original hearing and should have been produced at that time,and subjected to the same examination.
    It was BCC opinion that the evidence was sound nobody elses,that opinion makes the orginal independent and expensive examination worthless.

  20. The Bristol Blogger
    Posted 27th February, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The unredacted letter has now been published: http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/707746

    • Jack
      Posted 28th February, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

      Roll up, roll up come and see the the infamous unredacted letter which is redacted. But not enough to protect the identity of the claimant.

  21. bert
    Posted 27th February, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink


    I have now seen further documents which show:

    1. The Stepson who is legal guardian of Mr SDR has also appointed himself as the legal representative in place of the previous solicitors. The address for service of legal documents is now this Stepson’s home address in BS35

    2. As well as witnessing the document making him the Legal Guardian of SDR, the Stepson is also the witness on the discontinuance form and the witness on the form making him the the legal representative.

    3. The City Council received all these documents directly from the Stepson. They received nothing direct from Mr SDR.

    • Chris
      Posted 27th February, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      All pefectly legal of course.

      Why do you find it so hard to believe that this ‘elderly’ and ‘sick’ man might want to transfer all dealings to someone else?

      They are the words of Peter Crispin arent they?

  22. Posted 27th February, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think we should be misled by the words ‘guardian’, ‘representative’ and so on. The law does have all sorts of safeguards to make sure that a consent to a third party taking over one’s affairs is freely given, and with full understanding. Where matters of legal representation are concerned, the courts would normally appoint a (qualified) guardian to represent the interests of anyone concerned in litigation who couldn’t represent themselves.

    Even over relatively simple matters, like managing a bank account, there are more safeguards than appear to have been observed in this case.

    I strongly doubt whether the stepson’s claims to be a guardian have any legal standing.

    • Chris
      Posted 27th February, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Well I suppose we will have to wait and see.

      Wasnt the letter sent to the courts along with other documentation though? That was definately reported last week, but I dont remember seeing any other mention of what that actually was.

      Also worth mentioning that we dont actually know what may or may not have been drawn up between applicant and stepson that isnt in the public eye, this was after all just a notification to the courts and not any sort of application for legal guardianship.

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