CURSE OF SEKHEMKA LATEST: POLICE PROBE DONATIONS TO MACKINTOSH ELECTION CAMPAIGN

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Sekhemka Arts Council

In the latest twist to the long running Northampton Town FC loan scandal, the Police have confirmed today that they have been passed a file of information by the Electoral Commission and that, as a result, they are investigating £30k of donations made to the constituency association of the MP for Northampton South, and former Leader of Northampton Borough Council, David Mackintosh. The donations are alleged to have been made by three individuals connected to Mr Howard Grossman, the owner of developer First Land Ltd, which was the recipient of £8.75 million from a loan made by Northampton Borough Council to rebuild a stand at the town’s Sixfields Stadium which was never completed.  The news comes just one day after Mr Mackintosh, who is notorious in heritage circles as the architect of the widely condemned sale of the statue of Sekhemka from Northampton Museum, publicly accused the Council of withholding documents which he requested under the Freedom of Information Act.  The MP also called on the Council’s Chief Executive, David Kennedy, to resign.

Accused of withholding information about the loan scandal which had been passed on to the MP by a whistleblower, Mr Mackintosh said;

“The statement wrongly implied that I had not discussed allegations made by a whistleblower with the chief executive.

I absolutely did discuss this matter with him during one-to-one meetings whilst I was leader, and I asked the current leader of the council, Councillor Mary Markham, to make this clear in the press statement, to which she agreed.

Inexplicably this then never happened.”

However in June 2016 the Council claimed that there was “no record” that Mr Mackintosh had passed on the information, and yesterday’s article in the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, which put Mr Mackintosh’s accusations, was met with a mixture of incredulity, and barely suppressed hilarity, by many of the people who have followed the MP’s career. Especially those who have tried to get to the bottom of a number of Mr Mackintosh’s more opaque and controversial decisions. Not least the apparent promise made to Mrs Gail Butcher’s charity that it would be permitted to build football pitches, changing facilities and a car park on part of the Registered Battlefield of Northampton occupied by a riding school, and the sale of the statue of Sekhemka by Christie’s  and the subsequent gifting of over £6 million of the proceeds to the Marquis of Northampton, even though Mr Mackintosh claimed repeatedly that the Council owned the statue.  It is also pointed out that Mr Mackintosh’s management style was very much hands on and controlling, with the Council Leader consciously making himself the public face of everything the Council did.

Researchers also report that during Mr Mackintosh’s tenure the council’s attempts to control information verged on the paranoid, with one critic of the sale of Sekhemka, Mrs Gunilla Loe, even barred from her longstanding role volunteering at the Town’s museum.  There are also reports of Freedom of Information requests either being blocked, or expected communications, for example discussions on how to handle the media angle of the £6 million gift to the Marquis of Northampton in the wake of he sale of Sekhemka for a record £15.76 million,  found not to exist.  This has led to suspicions that some sensitive communications may have been conducted in ways which would circumvent Freedom of Information requests.

More seriously, former senior members of the Council who had worked with Mr Kennedy questioned Mr Mackintosh’s account of his meeting regarding the Whistleblower, reporting on Social Media that , in their experience, the Chief Executive always took notes.  An action which would represent routine self protection for any professional public servant.

Now Northamptonshire Police have confirmed that, in addition to an existing investigation into wider alleged irregularities connected with the award of the loan, Mr Mackintosh’s Constituency Association is under investigation regarding three donations totaling £30k, allegedly made between April and May 2014 by associates of Mr Howard Grossman of First Land Ltd, the developer of Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium.  Mr Grossman, along with the football club’s then owner, Mr David Cardoza, managed to burn through a £10.25 million loan from the Council, without managing to build the new stand, but managing to fund other companies and, allegedly, £600k worth of building work at Mr Cardoza’s house.

It is even suggested that the donations to Mr Mackintosh’s Constituency before the 2015 General Election could have been made up of money actually taken from the Council loan.  An investigation by the BBC established that each doner received payments from First Land Ltd immediately before making the donations to Mr Mackintosh’s constituency association of Northampton South. However, Mr Mackintosh and his local Conservative Party deny all wrongdoing, with Mr Mackintosh telling the BBC today that he welcomed the Police investigation, would cooperate with it if asked, and had no reason to believe the donations were made by anyone other than the named individuals.

With the issue now becoming one of an investigation into potentially criminal breaches of Electoral Law, seasoned Mackintosh observers are now wondering if Mr Kennedy and the current Leadership of Northampton Borough Council will continue to take the MP’s incoming fire, or whether they might choose to return a few volleys of their own.

Meanwhile, Sekhemka is currently missing, but he is believed to be in the United States having been sold to a private collector, and so was not available for comment.