Tag Archives: Zoe Sear


If this wasn’t such a serious issue – the abject FAILURE of Bristol City Council’s senior ranks to obey the law and find an appropriate place of safety for a young mum who has been the victim of sickening domestic violence – then the inept way council officers have attempted to QUIETLY BRIEF against ‘Ms X’ to councillors and others would be funny.

Today, though, they’ve come out into the open with a statement attributed to “a Bristol City Council spokesman” explaining that, err, they think it’s all Ms X’s fault!

We dissect it line-by-line below…

We take very seriously people experiencing domestic violence or abuse. It is a high priority within our rehousing policy, and we have a number of protocols with Next Link and the police.

On her initial approach to the council, Ms X was offered a place in a refuge or safe house by both the council and Next Link…

…Which Ms X very clearly said from the outset she could not accept, for the very pertinent reasons she articulated then and now…

…was offered a lock-change service, and was also offered help to find a new private tenancy. She declined these offers…

…having noted that a private tenancy would give much less chance of security than a local authority or other social housing property, and be considerably more expensive!

She applied to Home Choice to go on the housing register. Unfortunately…

Now there’s an interesting word, “unfortunately”…

…there was then a delay in assessing her place on the housing register…

By “delay” they actually mean that managers within BCC repeatedly failed her – at a time when there were real dangers to her physical wellbeing from her abuser, who continued to contact her, and she most needed to be in a place of safety rather than wading through the quagmire of council red tape.

…which is not acceptable.

No, it’s not acceptable. It wasn’t acceptable three months ago when it happened, nor two months ago, one month ago or even one week ago.

We apologise wholeheartedly…

“Wholeheartedly” – a nice, cosy, emotional word to imply that ‘hey, we have hearts too!’ Except, of course, they’re sitting in their comfortable offices enjoying their management perks whilst making what in effect are life-and-death decisions about the likes of Ms X.

…for this and we are reviewing how this happened.

Note that they have only apologised NOW, after being embarrassed in public – is that really an apology worth having?

Ms X was placed on the register in Band 3, a priority band which includes other victims of domestic abuse, homelessness cases and others urgently needing to move…

Of course that begs the question, if people being threatened with serious physical, sexual or emotional abuse are not the most preeminent concern, then who is? Managers’ mates?

She has been bidding on properties, but unfortunately has been restricting her selection of property type and location…

Aha! There’s that word “unfortunately” again! Note that the statement uses the same word to describe something that the council did – the “delay” in properly processing the housing application – and something that Ms X did. That suggests that they are comparable: ‘we were a little wrong, you were a little wrong’.

Except what the council did was make an error that is in their own words “not acceptable”; what Ms X did was make a choice about what was most suitable for her and her child.

Let’s have another look at Bristol City Council’s own policy on Domestic Abuse: “[Don’t] Pressurise an individual into a specific course of action… [Don’t] Be judgmental of the individual’s choices and actions”. Seems pretty clear.

And yet this statement attempts to suggest that if the original banding was a mistake, then so if Ms X not wanting to be forced into unsuitable housing. It puts her exercise of free choice on a par with the potentially life-threatening mistakes of senior council officers – could there be anything more judgmental (or offensive) than that?

Had she bid on all suitable properties there are 11 that have been advertised,

Note that there is not even an attempt to actually discuss the quality or suitability of those properties – do you not wonder why?

…and since her application was placed in Band 3 she would have been the successful bidder.

And guess what: there’s no way anyone could verify this! In other words, they’re making stuff up as they go along.

Either that or they’ve got a really good crystal ball up at City Hall. Perhaps Mayor Fergo could use it to place a bet at Paddy Power on a rank outsider to win – then he won’t need to cut the budget for things like rehousing vulnerable people

Ms X has a support worker at Next Link, and the Safer Bristol…

In case you were unaware, the ‘Safer Bristol Partnership’ is a multi-agency quango managed by, erm, Bristol City Council!

…domestic abuse coordinator has reviewed the case.

And who is this mysterious, all-seeing, all-knowing wise person? Have they met with Ms X? Are they a Bristol City Council employee or from another agency? Name them!

Their conclusion is that all agencies have done what they should have.

Now that is a real surprise! But, um, by “all agencies” they can’t possibly mean to include Bristol City Council, can they?

Presumably not, seeing as BCC is an organisation which even by its own admission FAILED to properly band Ms X in the first place. It also WASTED three months, IGNORED Ms X’s wishes to not be dumped in a refuge, and has used THREATS – such as exposing her full identity to the mainstream media, withdrawing all possibility of housing support, and briefing inaccurate information to those who have shown an interest in the case.

…in order to help.

If that all counts as “help” then heaven help those you really don’t like!

We continue to offer on-going support and the case is a priority.

Hang on, did you say “the case is a priority”? If that’s true, why has the council never said that to Ms X, either verbally or in correspondence?

Overall, the whole statement reeks of desperation. This whole sorry affair began more than three months ago. The BRISTOLIAN has been reporting on it for five days.

Yet the best this motley crew of management mediocrities and self-styled ‘communications gurus’ could come up with were some half-baked half-truths, the odd smear, and a bunch of wildly inaccurate claims.

Shameful, pathetic, beneath contempt.


Web ExclusiveIf you have been following the saga of Bristol City Council’s FAILURE to rehouse ‘Ms X’, a young mum who has suffered horrific domestic abuse, then this is a must-read – it’s a statement from her, in her own words…

Three months ago with the aid of a friend I gained the strength to contact a domestic abuse organisation who have helped me to understand that I am a victim and this is not my fault.

I then made an application for Urgent Housing Needs to Bristol City Council, backed up by a referral from the domestic abuse organisation in support of my application. I hoped the process would be straight forward and that common sense would prevail – but this was not the case.

Firstly there was a delay in processing my application, and then the department lost the referral and I was placed in the lowest housing band, Band 5. The referral was resent by the domestic abuse organisation and I was eventually placed in Band 3.

During this disorganised chaos I was referred to the homeless section. This is the only part of the council where I feel that they have shown me any compassion for or understanding of my plight. I was offered a place in a women’s refuge, which I had to turn down. I am not willing to be forced into a refuge for the simple reason that I have a young child (who fortunately has never witnessed the abuse) who has regular contact with her father, who is not the abuser.

I should not have to disrupt my young child’s life or her father’s for my mistake in choosing the wrong partner – I just want to rebuild my life and provide stability for mine and my daughter’s future.

It seems people are telling me what is best for me. How do these people know what is best for me? Do I not have the freedom of choice? I am told there is nothing contained under Section 177 Housing Acts (1996) that states I must go in to a women’s refuge.

Since The Bristolian highlighted my campaign it has brought a great deal of support. The response of Mr Hooper & Mr Sylvester to this support is once again to offer me a refuge and deny me a property – so in over three months my housing application has made no further progress.

I now ask Mr Hooper and Mr Sylvester to do three things:

  1. Show me which part of the housing legislation states I must accept a place in a refuge;
  2. Show me one good reason why three months on that you are unable to provide me with proper accommodation;
  3. Show me any risk assessment you have carried out in reference to my situation.

To date I have had not one face-to-face meeting with a re-housing officer, although I have been informed by my advocate that a meeting is being organised to discuss my case. However, I would like to say that if the council intends only to offer me a refuge against my wishes yet again, please save the expense of travel as my decision is unchanged.

This process is affecting my mental health and well being, but I refuse to be a victim twice. I ask for nothing more than what the law of the land says I am entitled to, if I am not entitled to rehousing again I say show me the law you rely upon.

Ms X

As you can see, it clearly REFUTES many of the lies and misrepresentations that have mysteriously been swirling around City Hall since this shameful episode blew up in public (and particularly since we emailed every councillor in the city to let them know what was going on).

Just imagine that ‘Ms X’ was your friend, your sister, your mum or aunt or daughter: subjected to sickening violence, and then abused a second time by a bunch of clueless bureaucrats with not an ounce of compassion or common sense between them.

Ms X shouldn’t have to take this shit, and nor should any woman, child or man.


Some extracts from Bristol City Council’s very own Domestic Abuse Policy:


  • Listen positively and reassure the individual. Ensure that they know:
    • You believe them
    • It’s not their fault
    • There is support available


  • Pressurise an individual into a specific course of action
  • Be judgmental of the individual’s choices and actions
  • Stop supporting the individual once you have referred to another agency

Perhaps the overpaid idiots mishandling the ‘Ms X’ case should take the time to read it?

And then – heaven forbid – actually PUT IT INTO PRACTICE


On Sunday, to ensure that the failures faced by domestic violence survivor ‘Ms X’ were not swept under the carpet, The BRISTOLIAN emailed this message to all seventy Bristol City Councillors:

Dear Councillor,

As you may be aware, on Friday The BRISTOLIAN newspaper reported on a survivor of brutal domestic abuse, ‘Ms X’, whom Bristol City Council has failed to rehouse per its statutory obligations.

We identified named individuals – Strategic Housing Director Nick Hooper, Rehousing Manager Paul Sylvester, and Mayor George Ferguson – who had each been sent extensive information pertaining to Ms X’s situation, yet had done nothing about it.

The precise circumstances of Ms X’s dire need for rehousing are detailed within correspondence to which those three individuals were party to.

We would ask that any councillors who consider the rehousing of vulnerable survivors of domestic violence to be important contact Mr Hooper, Mr Sylvester and Mr Ferguson directly, and demand to know what they are doing about this woman’s plight.

Furthermore, we wonder just how many other people at risk from extreme physical, sexual or emotional abuse have been similarly let down by Bristol City Council. Just what will it take – a beating, a rape or a murder – for anything to be done to protect all the Ms Xs out there in Bristol tonight, tomorrow night, and every night thereafter?

We urge all readers to do the same – by contacting Mayor George Ferguson, “right hand woman” Zoe Sear, Nick Hooper and Paul Sylvester and letting them know that you expect IMMEDIATE ACTION to ensure the safety of Ms X and her child.

Please also consider letting your WARD COUNCILLORS know your concerns – you can find their contact details here.

Let each and every one of them, whether Labour, Lib Dem, Tory, Green or Independent, know that those who have suffered domestic violence should not have to put up with this kind of inhumane treatment from the council.


Zoe Sear: sticking the boot into domestic violence survivors on behalf of Mayor George Ferguson

Zoe Sear: sticking the boot into domestic violence survivors on behalf of Mayor George Ferguson

Web ExclusiveSo step forward ZOE SEAR, Mayor Fergo’s “right hand woman” paid nearly a thousand quid a week for her problem-solving abilities. Obviously a working class Bristolian like Ms X who has been repeatedly battered black and blue is not the concern of a Very Important millionaire like George Redtrousers, so when this shitstorm erupted in public, it was passed to his smiling consigliere Sear to deal with.

After initially making lots of sympathetic noises, Sear is now conspiring with incompetent housing chiefs Hooper and Sylvester to COVER UP their mistakes – and blame Ms X for her situation.

Sear has attempted to use an appointment scheduling error by a support agency which meant that Ms X could not attend one meeting because she was at another one as a stick to beat the victim with – and FORCE her into taking a place in a refuge against her wishes. That is the same offer that Ms X explained that she couldn’t accept THREE MONTHS AGO. Sear and her housing department chums are now using the threat of withdrawing all support as a way of SILENCING a vulnerable victim.

As Sear contemptuously said to Ms X’s advocate, “I don’t have a magic wand – what do you want me to do? Take her home with me?”

No, Zoe – we simply want you, your boss and your council to do the right thing – by appropriately rehousing this woman and her child. BEFORE either of them is harmed.


Web ExclusiveFollowing our recent articles on the horrific domestic abuse suffered by ‘Ms X’ – and the failure of senior Bristol City Council officials to rehouse her into a place of safety – we can report that those running our city have… Done precisely NOTHING.

Well, nothing except:

  • BLAME the victim
  • Attempt to WASH THEIR HANDS of their legal duties

As we reported on Friday, senior BCC managers NICK HOOPER and PAUL SYLVESTER as well as City Mayor GEORGE FERGUSON all IGNORED extensive paperwork detailing the case of Ms X.

FACT: Ms X reported her abuse months ago.
FACT: Ms X has fully cooperated with the council and other agencies.
FACT: Ms X – for a range of reasons we cannot divulge here – made it clear she could not go to a ‘refuge’.
FACT: Bristol City Council made serious errors in its initial assessment of her needs.
FACT: Ms X is under an imminent and ongoing threat of extreme violence from her abuser if she stays where she is.

If all this didn’t sound grim enough on its own, The BRISTOLIAN can now reveal that:

  • Ms X has been repeatedly FAILED by local authority services in the past.
  • Ms X is also responsible for a YOUNG CHILD – whom she is terrified that she will lose if she is thrown into a refuge.
  • Ms X was initially put into the LOWEST housing band when originally assessed – a mistake that cost valuable weeks and caused great anxiety and stress to Ms X.
  • Ms X has received NO APOLOGY for her shameful treatment.

Since The BRISTOLIAN first brought the issue out into the open – and emailed an outline of the sickening situation to all SEVENTY COUNCILLORS to ensure that there would be no whitewash, no brushing of the matter under the carpet – there has been a flurry of activity behind the scenes at City Hall.

Ms X, her advocate and The BRISTOLIAN – plus a small number of councillors who have admirably taken an interest – took this to mean that the decision-makers were finally taking this seriously, and working to protect a survivor of domestic violence.

That belief was misplaced. That trust has been abused.

Want to know what happened next? Read on…


Web ExclusiveAs the 18 October deadline looms for public submissions on the ‘Central Area Action Plan’ (which will seal the fate of Castle Park and decide just how much of the city centre green space will be COVERED IN CONCRETE) a recent music festival was an interesting test of the council’s resolve.

Having won a reprieve for its turn-it-into-a-shopping-mall strategy with the knocking back of the Town Green application in 2009, Bristol City Council has since tried to tread softly with the passionate Park Users’ Group. That is, of course, until this weekend just gone, when with less than a month before the CAAP consultation closes they rented out the popular urban park – despite all the public rights of access involved – to £30-a-head commercial event Tokyo Dub. Given infamous local unwillingness to spend money to get into public spaces, and with just sixty security (85% of them from that well-known Bristol neighbourhood Brighton) to watch over a licensed crowd of 5,000 with only rickety Heras fencing to contain them, this was certainly a BOLD MOVE.

CAAP February 2012

CAAP February 2012 (development area in orange)

But it’s by no means the boldest move being made at Castle Park: that honour would appear to go to our old friend MAYOR GEORGE FERGUSON. Despite being a man who as a graduate of the University of Bristol and a qualified architect presumably knows how to use a ruler and read a map, poor old Fergo has been having some proper trouble with sizes and scales when faced with angry Bristolians who accused him of putting Castle Park under threat. Under threat? Fergo?? How!?

Well, by SNEAKILY EXTENDING THE BORDERS of the potential development area. Fergo, though, claimed not to be able to see how the September 2013 ‘Preferred Options’ map of the Castle Park development clearly covers a larger area that that on February 2012’s ‘Options Consultation’ document, which only identified the empty bank buildings and car park at the St Mary-le-Port end of the park as suitable for development. In fact, the February 2012 map even clearly marks out the surrounding parkland as ‘Important Open Space’, signalling its protection.

CAAP September 2013 (development area bounded in white)

CAAP September 2013 (development area bounded in white)

Not so on Fergo’s watch though, as the millionaire mayor made clear in EVER MORE FEVERISH tweets in which he effectively claimed that black was white and up was down… “It’s a decrease [in development size] if anything,” blurted out the panicky Merchant Venturer, before retreating away from the argument as fast as he could.

But then despite his well-cultivated image of being a touchy-feely, save-the-trees kinda guy, Fergo’s was after all the go-to hip architect for the COUNCIL’S PREFERRED DEVELOPERS Deeley Freed, back during Fergo’s pre-mayor days and when they needed a bit of local credibility due to public opinion being very much against them.

This time though it’s Fergo feeling the lash of the public’s tongue – especially now his spin doctor Claudia Jean has left the building (though not before rather unsuccessfully attempting to combine aloofness, charm and hey-guys-I-can-laugh-at-myself sense of humour) leaving Gorgeous George with only LONG-SUFFERING BAG-CARRIER ZOE SEAR to keep him from sticking his foot in his mouth more than once a day (or “setting the news agenda” as those meejah professionals in Shitty Hall like to call it). Whether this will prove a good or a bad thing for Castle Park remains to be seen.

As does the reason behind why a supposed environmentalist like Fergo is so keen to see trees chopped down, green spaces removed from public use and a much-loved park extensively concreted over…


Welcome to the Hoyty-Toyty World of Bristol Politics!


First meeting of the new four-strong city council Green Group and it went very well indeed. We almost fill a small corner of a Committee Room now! We covered everything from how totally opposed we are to any of the cuts we vote for, to hammering out some VERY SERIOUS POLICY POSITIONS.

First in the in-tray was the super controversial Resident Parking Zones. After some frank, open discussion and very serious debate, and with brilliant input from all our councillors, we agreed a consensus policy on the issue. Basically, on the first and third Wednesdays of each month, we are totally in favour of the Resident Parking Zones. We will meet again next week to hammer out what to do if there’s a fifth Wednesday in the month. On weekdays – except, obviously, the first and third Wednesdays – when the sun shines we are against the parking zones. On weekends, regardless of the weather, we think it should be left for the communities affected to decide.

We then had a vigorous debate about rainy days and Mondays, except – obviously – any rainy first and third Wednesdays and all days on weekends – but remain undecided.

We agreed to come back to the issue next week after George had made his mind up about it all anyway. We’ve also drawn up an EXTENSIVE COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY on the issue to cascade to all Bristol Green Party members. It reads:


Tried to pop in to see George afterwards but he was busy in a meeting with the very independently-minded MR PERRY FROM CLIFTON, so he asked me to come back tomorrow.


Popped back up to the third floor to see George this morning and bumped straight in to a beaming MR HOLT clutching a handful of BRISTOLIANs and shouting at me, “Have you seen it? Have you seen it? I’m in it!” I congratulated him and he skipped off to show ANGIE RIDGWELL. It must be said that being called by a girl’s name in The BRISTOLIAN may well turn out to be Peter’s crowning achievement from his time in the city.

Tried to see George but he was with Mr Perry again. Indeed Mr Perry was sitting in George’s Eames chair with his feet up on his desk while George appeared to be standing listening intently. In my opinion Mr Perry was very rude telling me to go away as they were busy running the city.


Tried to see George again. When I got to the third floor I could hear raised voices or, rather, a raised voice that sounded rather like Mr Perry’s. It was something to do with resident parking I think and the words “Stop dithering! Just bloody get on with it, you useless red-trousered old” something-or-other.

Mostly I could hear what they were saying, but I have never heard of a ‘STANKWAIN’ before, and it’s not in My First Illustrated Dictionary. When I tapped on George’s door he immediately opened it and shouted at me to – and even as I write this I’m blushing – “Eff-you-see-kay off and stop stalking me!”

Charming! After everything I’ve done for him. That’s the last time I iron his silk pyjamas as a favour before one of his late-night list-ticking sessions.


Decided it was time to start focusing on my new cabinet portfolio. Started with council housing today and explained in detail to the council housing boss MR PALMER how I wanted a wraparound strategy to retrofit our housing for the forthcoming environmental apocalypse in place ASAP. In the meantime I told Mr Palmer to set up a Twitter account to talk up solar panels and cavity wall insulation.

Mr Palmer said he thought his housing officers would be “thrilled” by my “creative approach” as it would make a change from all that depressing Bedroom Tax Spare Room Subsidy stuff. He also invited me to his leaving do, as he’s going next Tuesday. “Who’ll be in charge then?” I asked. He just laughed and said, “SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY, GUS!”


Tried to find out today who’s in charge of the city’s council housing from next Tuesday. Nobody seemed very sure. Also bumped into my new Cabinet colleague MRS MASSEY in the corridor this afternoon. She was trying to find out who was now in charge of education as the excellent MRS HUDSON was also leaving. We both decided to call it a day and go to the cider bar at Eat, Drink, Bristol.


Attended the Reed Service at St Mary Redcliffe Church today. It’s a special ceremony for us councillors, and a great opportunity to dress up. Someone asked me if I was a Christian and I did my usual response of staring at the ground and shuffling about a bit before changing the subject. As it was the weekend, I just said, “I think the communities affected should decide on parking zones, don’t you?”

But George didn’t find it funny, though.


Welcome to the Hoyty-Toyty World of Bristol Politics!


Finally saw George for our 10 o’clock at 11.30am when he finally arrived for work, apologising as he’d been up late with Zoe list-ticking again. They seem to have so many lists and so much to tick!

But at last I finally got to lay out to George the Bristol Green Party’s ideas for the new arena. He appeared very excited by our proposals for an all-wooden structure with a THATCHED ROOF POWERED BY WIND. Although he did have some reservations, such as what would happen when there’s no wind to power the amplifiers.

The solution is simple but brilliant. Top bands from around the world would simply have to do acoustic sets. What better way to put Bristol on the map than as the international home of the impromptu acoustic gig? “Imagine,” I said to George, “Take That with just Gary on piano, Robbie playing a bit of acoustic guitar and Jason, Mark and Howard doing the harmonies. That’s not something you see every day.”

“I guess not,” said George, who then went very quiet, overwhelmed by the groundbreaking consequences. He brightened up considerably when I pointed out that there were also some interesting sustainable employment spin-offs from our plan such as the potential for the reintroduction of the artisan craft of thatching to Britain with Bristol as its epicentre.

Before I left I also put in a special request from the younger members of the Green Party who really want to see the exciting folk-rock act Mumford & Sons do the honours at the grand opening of the arena. George, who is a big fan, was thrilled at the suggestion.

I know this is going to come as a big upset to some our older Bristol Green Party members who had been holding out for a reformed Lindisfarne to appear, but hey fellas! You got to move with the times.

It’s forward not back at George’s City Hall!!


A fantastic day. Green Party leader Natalie Bennett visited Bristol today to support our local election campaign. She was superb. OK, as a former Guardian journalist she might be prone to making embarrassing spelling errors (but who isn’t?) and utterly clueless about foreign policy, but she’ll happily sympathise for hours with whingeing school teachers and moaning social workers.

Natalie was especially keen to get our “total opposition to the cuts” message across and she dealt with any challenges supremely well. When asked why if we were totally opposed to cuts did we vote for them in Bristol she gave the questioner a FUNNY LITTLE SMILE and then rushed off to find a school teacher to moan at her. What a professional.

We all know how to say one thing at election time and do another at George’s City Hall!


Attended a ‘Keep Sundays Special’ Project Meeting at City Hall.

Exciting times seeing George’s plan to create a traffic-free environment on Sundays come to fruition thanks to a crack council officer team. We’re now at the detail and delivery phase and it’s great to see a proper ‘one council’ approach in action. Mr Mann the traffic boss has agreed to shut three roads at a cost of just £190,000, which is a great deal. Mr Holt, Head of Press and Marketing, knows a face painter and someone who knows someone who knows a unicyclist. George’s friend in Southville will make 100 yards of cloth bunting for us, and Mr Morris, the Markets Manager, says he’s got EIGHT ARTISAN CAKE STALLS lined up already – and even promised to personally come in every Sunday to collect the stall fees (cash only please!) himself. What commitment.

We’re still on the lookout for jugglers and Morris Dancers so give us a shout if you can help.

We love dancing with bells on our toes at George’s City Hall!


Back at work after yesterday’s special social media course (George’s idea) after that minor thing the other day when I was accidentally racist. And it worked! No major diplomatic incidents, plus Mr Holt taught me how to write ‘BOOBLESS’ on a calculator.

It’s a digital wonderland, George’s City Hall!


Bristol Mayor takes taxpayer-funded jaunts to Dublin and Cannes to help cultivate sense of self-importance

The Mayor sends his regards

With £35m of unachievable cuts randomly delivered across council budgets, now MAYOR GORGEOUS can get on with the more serious aspects of his role … Like enjoying jolly ‘junket’ outings abroad at our expense.

The year’s first freebie trip overseas for George came in February when he spent a couple of days in Dublin at the ‘World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty’. A stop-off on the INTERNATIONAL POVERTY INDUSTRY grand tour, the event was themed around technology and cities, and attracted mostly faceless EU and UN bureaucrats with fat expense accounts and plenty of time on their hands.

Gushing publicity offered lucky attendees the opportunity “to marry practical experience to blue sky thinking” and hear words of wisdom spouted by self-important bigwigs from the Big Four accountancy firms. They, of course, are famed for their robust approach to preventing poverty by, erm, creating it on a grand scale across the entire western world by signing off dodgy bank balance sheets just prior to their collapse into bankruptcy and creating the need for mass public bailouts.

See the pattern here? Those that have caused mass poverty are now selling solutions to it back to governments. Other speakers included the aptly named Patricia Bastard of Yellow Window Design Consultants and the Queen of the international poverty scene, former Irish premier Mary ‘Antoinette’ Robinson.

But this was a mere warm-up for the main event that Junket George attended a few weeks later: the MIPIM PROPERTY CONFERENCE in Cannes, delightfully situated on the Côte d’Azur. And what was this conference all about? Public relations people will try to tell you “MIPIM provides a unique opportunity for industry decision-makers to meet, develop long-term relationships and showcase their latest development projects.”

However, a more honest appraisal is available from Clare Barrett, managing editor of Property Week magazine, who helpfully explains, “It’s basically a FOUR-DAY PARTY WITH LOADS OF LOBSTER AND CHAMPAGNE ON YACHTS.”

When now-disbanded quango the South West Regional Development Agency attended this piss-up a few years ago, they managed to run up a £61k bill for running a press conference and two cheese and wine parties. But it is suspected that George and the large entourage he assembled for this must-go event managed to smash that pre-austerity record with a WHOPPING £100K+ TAB. George even forked out for his glamorous assistant Zoe to attend and to provide him with her late night ‘list-ticking’ services, as well as dragging along a local artist to flaunt – just to show people how wacky he is.

No doubt Cannes echoed to the question, “Qui le fuck est la poshe idiote Anglais avec les pantalons rouges”?