Wednesday, December 20, 2006

THE UNTOLD STOREY (PART 5): 'MY WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE" - "I thought he must have been drinking. Henshaw completely lost it."

The Storey so far: in confidential documents, former council Leader Mike Storey describes his war with former chief executive, Sir David - 'Sir Diddy' - Henshaw. This week: how the fall-out began.

Relations between Sir David Henshaw and council leader Mike Storey deteriorated completely over two issues - Merseytram and Henshaw's pension.
Henshaw was 'aggressive' and used 'threatening and abusive language' both to Councillor Storey and the city's Director of Communications, Matt Finnegan.
The man who later succeeded Storey as Council Leader, Councillor Warren Bradley, described Henshaw's behaviour over the tram as "appalling" and admitted: "We should have sacked him on the spot there and then."
Finnegan, who had to deal with the media attention caused by the tram row, described how Henshaw rang him from Scotland where he was celebrating his wedding anniversary.
Henshaw had earlier already argued violently with Storey over his Merseytram comments and Finnegan had been left trying to persuade the media to play down the story.
But Finnegan says:"Henshaw was completely out of control - at first I thought he must have been drinking, he was shouting and swearing and raving like a lunatic. But he was even worse the following morning. It was an astonishing and shocking performance from someone who was supposed to be Liverpool's Number 1 public servant. He totally lost it. It was a bit frightening to hear someone so obviously out of control."
Storey's statement begins by telling how in 1999 Henshaw was 'very keen' to get the job of chief executive and "immmediately made an impact."
"For the first five years, I enjoyed a very effective and successfull professional relationship, although our relationship has always been purely professional and we have never engaged socially," explains Storey.
But the relationship began to change when Henshaw started to demand more media and public attention and tried to claim credit for all the improvements being made in the city.
His manic obsession with trying to control everything that was said about him brought him into direct conflict with both councillors and journalists who were uneasy at the prominence of a public servant.
Storey says:"At times I have felt that David has over-stepped the mark in terms of his own personal media profile.
"In November our relationship deteriorated over the issue of Merseytram.
"I had felt that the issue was being handled badly and the media perception was bad for the city. I gave comments to the press that I would be 'banging heads together'.
"David reacted very angrily and aggressively to this and told me was going to resign, with swearing and abusive language. He also threatened to attack me publicly.
"Things blew over, but our relationship was never the same."
Current Council Leader Warren Bradley, who was a witness to the row between Storey and Henshaw, said:"I shall never forget it - I could not believe what I was hearing.
"Henshaw was absolutely wild - he was effing and blinding at Mike and calling him every name under the sun. I am used to hearing some strong language from people at times, but this was really shocking coming from the chief executive.
"I thought he had lost his marbles to speak to the Leader of the Council in that way. There was no reasoning with him - he was almost foaming at the mouth."
Finnegan who was on the end of phone calls from Storey and Henshaw throughout the row, said: "It was pretty raw and nasty stuff - I was shocked that he spoke to Mike Storey in that way - and then he turned on me too and suddenly started calling me names! It was literally unbelievable. He was like a wild animal just lashing out at everyone, without any reason.
"He kept on threatening to resign, which would have been a disaster for the council at that time - and then he ordered me to arrange for him to go on to the Roger Phillips programme on Radio Merseyside.
"I asked him what he wanted to say on the radio. Henshaw said: 'I am going to denounce the Leader of the Council of course and tell Phillips that I am resigning'. I could not believe my ears, to be honest. I thought he had taken leave of his senses and gone completely mad.
"There was no way that I was going to arrange for him to go and attack his own Council Leader in public. He semed to have got everything out of proportion. Then McElhinney also instructed me to get Henshaw on the radio - I treated that with the contempt it deserved. It would have been an absolute public relations disaster for the city of Liverpool to have the chief exec and Leader kicking each other in public.
"It was clear that Henshaw and McElhinney had their own personal agendas and they were not bothered about what was in Liverpool's best interests."
Storey then recounts how a truce was called and he and Henshaw put on a show of sweetness and light for public consumption.
It was not too last.
Storey says: "Over the issue of the pension deal our relationship deteriorated completely to the point where we did not speak...once David publicly announced his intention to retire our relationship became very frosty."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The Storey so far: Henshaw has mounted an attempted coup d'etat against the elected Leader of the Council, Mike Storey. He has used Storey's emails to suspended media chief Matt Finnegan to try and force the Leader's resignation. Henshaw, aided and abetted by McElhinney and Halsall, has also threatened Storey's job as a headteacher in neighbouring Knowsley. The Storey continues....

Henshaw's threat to Storey's job forces the council leader to call a meeting of his school's governors who give him their complete support, he reveals.
"There then followed a very difficult period when David Henshaw withdrew sending me his diary and his correspondence...I felt very isolated in all this...I contacted the chief executive of another authority and asked for advice...He was shocked and said that 'really you should suspend David Henshaw for behaving in this way'. I felt that would be inappropriate."
Story continued to lack the killer instinct even though he pursued the idea of taking disciplinary action against his renegade chief executive.
Storey tells how he met representatives from the Employers Association in Nottingham.
"A team of their staff, after several hours of discussion, got together a proposal in which they considered that David Henshaw's activities were of a serious nature. And that this should be a disciplinary matter. They made the point jokingly, that it was easier to get rid of Her Majesty the Queen than it was a chief executive."
The Employers Association advised the council leader to set up a special disciplinary committee to 'try' Henshaw.
"It could then consider suspending David Henshaw while the matter was being investigated. They also said that if he was suspended, there would have to be a report put together on David Henshaw's activities. They were happy to send a team up to Liverpool to put that report together."
But Storey faltered.
Weakly, he preferred the option of mediation to try and bring peace to the civil war.
In looking for a way to avoid a further bloody conflict, Storey let down his loyal supporters, democracy and the people of Liverpool.
It was to be his last chance to take strong and decisive action against Henshaw, but he fluffed it.
Amazingly, the arrogant Henshaw at first refused Storey's offer of mediation, believing he had the council leader on the run.
Then the evil cabal swung into action.
City solicitor Graeme Creer, who had been appointed by Henshaw, privately told the renegade chief executive of the Lib Dem group's confidential plans to set up a disciplinary committee to prosecute him.
Henshaw then moved quickly to avoid humiliation and agree mediation, with Sir Michael Lyons brought in to act as referee.
It sealed Storey's fate.

Sunday, November 19, 2006


The Storey so far: Liverpool city council have turned down a £340,000 pension deal for Henshaw, who has announced his early retirement. Henshaw has now used emails from the Leader of the Council, Mike Storey, to blackmail the council into agreeing an even more expensive retirement deal and Storey agreeing a dishonest and humiliating press release.

Storey tells how, a month later, on 17 May, 2005, four Executive members - Councillors Clucas, Clein, Antrobus and Fielding - were asked to meet in Henshaw's office at 8 am.
"They were given no reason as to why they were to meet in his office and assumed it was for a number of different reasons," says Storey.
"Paul Clein, for example, had been trying to fix a meeting to do with the appraisal of the Executive Director for Education.
"I was not informed that this meeting was taking place. The other 5 Executive Members, some of whom were more senior, were not invited.
"At the meeting with Mr Henshaw, Mr Halsall and Mr McElhinney they were shown copies of a draft S151 report (the emails) which they read.
"At the end of the meeting they were concerned and shocked and came out of the meeting. Marilyn Felding contacted Paul Clark, (right) knowing of his legal background and told him what had happened. Paul Clarke suggested that we met."
Storey tells how he and Councillor Clark then went to Henshaw's office to read the S151 Report.
"Henshaw introduced Dr McElhinney and himself. We read through the drafts which he wanted to keep in his office. At the end, Councillor Clark said, where do we go from here - what do you want?
"David Henshaw said 'I am not prepared to speak to Councillor Storey. I will speak to you over the phone.'
"We left that meeting and met with our four colleagues and discussion carried on there. Executive members informed me that David is trying to set up meetings with them.
"Paul Clark contacted me to say that he had had a phone call with David Henshaw. Paul says his behaviour is unbelievable - David saying that I work for a Labour controlled council - how would my Governors feel - I could lose my job.
Paul made it clear that David Henshaw was threatening my professional career.
"I was at my lowest ebb, both my political career and professional cereer were being threatened. That evening, I told my wife - that if my job is on the line, as a result of what the chief executive said, then I would resign."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

THE UNTOLD STOREY (PART 2): Henshaw confronts Storey

The Storey so far: Liverpool city council have turned down a £340,000 pension deal for chief executive Sir David Henshaw, who has announced publicly that he will now be taking early retirement in March 2006. Within days of headlines about the pension dispute and his impending retirement, Henshaw suspends the council's media chief Matt Finnegan on a pretext that dates back four years. This leaves the way clear for Henshaw to try to re-build his public position.

Council leader Mike Storey was confronted by Henshaw a month later on April 21, following a Capital of Culture meeting.
Storey says:

"He informed me that as part of the investigation into Matt Finnegan, (right) they had taken his PC for examination and going through several hundred emails, had come across some emails from myself which he felt were extremely damaging and serious and we needed to think carefully how to handle this as it could be potentially dangerous, both for the city and myself.

"I felt his mood was grave and threatening. I felt he was being aggressive and intimidating. I made no comment to him about this and he suggested that I speak to one of my council colleagues, Paul Clark, who is also a barrister."

Clark then met Henshaw on Saturday April 23rd. Paul Clark's notes of the meeting recount how Henshaw "has had enough and wants to go."

Clarks (below) says: "DH (Henshaw) wants the following deal:

1) A press release has to be issued - "co-conspirators have to be stopped"

2) Wants to establish that peace has broken out.

3) MJS (Storey) to specifically call the press and to telephone Larry Nield (Daily Post journalist) and Rex Makin (Liverpool solicitor)

4) MJS to telephone Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal - verbalise the press release.

5) Meeting of the Appointments Panel (the council subcommittee that turned down a pension deal for Henshaw) probably after 5th May, 2005

a) DH to retire on 30th March 2006
b) Sub committee awards him from the day extra pension years
Sub committee begs CX (Henshaw) to reconsider and to continue working. In the event of them being successful in persuading him to stay, the extra pension years will be rescinded.

6) Consultants to review the pay of senior management (McElhinney and Halsall)

7) DH be allowed to do other duties during the notice period and receive remuneration from those other duties.

8) Council go to market place for replacement chief executive in September.

Storey says: "I agreed to the points raised but had concern over a press release which asked the press to apologise to David. I felt that I could not say this. Henshaw...insisted on this line, or there would be no deal. I felt compelled to agree.

"The press release was issued by my office on Monday 25 April as agreed although Mr McElhinney had organised for the newscentre to issue the agreed statement as well."

So Henshaw used the discovery of Storey's emails to Finnegan to force a better pension deal for himself. This is demanding money with menaces - or blackmail.

The council Leader has now also agreed that Henshaw can retire with the pension deal which the council had already turned down. He has also left the way open for Henshaw to change his mind about retiring after apparently agreeing the sub-committee will "beg him to stay."

Storey has also agreed to a grovelling press statement which attempts to patch up their differences and pretend nothing is wrong. And Storey has agreed that Henshaw can earn extra money during his notice period and that his chief lieutenants, McElhinney and Halsall will have their pay reviewed.

All this in return for Henshaw agreeing to retire in March 2006.

NEXT: Henshaw changes his mind and mounts a coup d'etat; "his behaviour is unbelievable"; Henshaw faces disciplinary action.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


DAVID HENSHAW was "aggressive, threatening and intimidating" to the elected Leader of Liverpool city council, previously unreleased documents have disclosed.
They describe how chief executive Henshaw's relationship with Councillor Mike Storey deteriorated over the ill-fated Mersey tram.
And they reveal how the relationship worsened even further after the council turned down a huge pension deal for Henshaw.
The documents also give a shocking insight into Henshaw's personal behaviour and reveal how he used abusive and threatening language in his dealings with the council Leader.
The confidential documents are split into several different sections and give a fascinating glimpse into the battle for power behind the scenes at Liverpool Town Hall.

We shall be serialising extracts from the documents over the next few weeks so that the people of the North West will be able to judge for themselves exactly what kind of man Henshaw is.

They reveal in detail how Henshaw and senior council officals tried to mount a coup to remove the democratically elected Leader of the council. One of the council officials involved is still working for Liverpool while another, astonishingly, has been promoted!
The first part of the secret documents is headed "Circumstances leading to the publication of the so-called Draft Section 151 Report" and has been written by the former Leader Councillor Mike Storey.
It tells how Henshaw approached Storey in 2004 and infomed him that he would have to leave the council in March 2006, because pension changes meant "it wasn't financially worth his while staying."
The council's Director of Resources, Phil Halsall, (known elsewhere as 'the smiling assassin') was instructed by Henshaw to write a report detailing how to get round the pension changes involved.
But Halsall (right) failed to write the report, leaving Henshaw " quite agitated". Then in another blunder, Halsall gave Councillor Storey a copy of an entirely different report!
When finally the correct report on Henshaw's pension was presented in private to the council committee responsible in February 2005, they had three major concerns:
  • The report proposed that future pension arrangements for other senior officers should be decided just by Henshaw, Storey and Councillor Marilyn Fielding.
  • The report contained no legal implications.
  • The report contained no figures!
Storey says Henshaw met him outside the Town Hall after receiving a briefing about the private meeting from Halsall. Henshaw was "very vexed at what had happened."
Storey says: "I have to say that I felt in a very uncomfortable position. The fact that Phil Halsall had repeated verbatim, the discussion in the private meeting."
Executive Board members then agreed to Henshaw's pension being topped up (no figures were given, but it was estimated that this would be to the tune of £340,000), with only two against (current leader Warren Bradley and Education Member Paul Clein).
However the Cabinet set two conditions: "they wanted to see actual figures" (!) and they wanted Henshaw to relinquish his position as chief exec of Capital of Culture.
Storey says that the councils Executive Board again met privately to discuss Henshaw's pension and there was concern that there were still no figures available and that the entire Lib Dem group needed to discuss their response.
Storey then says: "At the Group meeting, I proposed that the augmented pension be approved. There was strong vocal opposition to this with every member of the Group bar one, saying that they could not support this. That it would set a very dangerous precedent. However, members were appreciative of his role as chief exec and the job he had done. No formal vote was taken. It was agreed that I would.....see if there were other ways of retaining David, but not with an augmented pension."
Storey then tells how at the subsequent council committee, he moved that the extra pension for Henshaw was not approved.
"At the end of the meeting, I spoke to the Executive Director for Central Services, Mr McElhinney (left, known elsewhere as 'the rottweiller'), who was clearly surprised and shocked at the decision."
Storey tells how he was then collared by reporters about the decision.
"The reporters infomed me that they had spoken to David Henshaw and he had said that in view of this decision, he would be leaving at the end of the year."

COMING NEXT: Henshaw confronts Storey about his emails and threatens his career. Storey considers resigning and disciplining Henshaw.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


HENSHAW destroyed the career of one of Liverpool's most respected council officials - in pursuit of money and his own ego.
Within months of arriving as new chief executive at the city council in September 1999, Henshaw was eyeing up the post of Chief Returning Officer.
The post was occupied by Charles 'Charlie' Lasham, one of the few city council officials at that time who had a national and international reputation for their work.
Lasham had been sent to the far-flung corners of the globe to advise on the running of elections and had built up considerable expertise.
He was also highly regarded by council staff and by his collegues nationally amongst Chief Returning Officers.
This was all too much for Henshaw. Here was a council official with a popular public profile, who enjoyed a reputation for competence and innovation.
Henshaw's entire strategy as chief executive at Liverpool meanwhile was being built on the fallacy that everything that had gone before was utter rubbish. That all previous senior staff were incompetent fools and that all services were a disgrace.
Having a beacon of light like Lasham shining away in the corner was an uncomfortable reminder that this was not the case.
It also undermined Henshaw's 'blitzkrieg' strategy of destroying all that had gone before, so it could then be re-built in the Henshaw image.
But there was another, equally powerful factor.
Lasham's position as Chief Returning Officer gave him power and public prominence with the media, councillors, the political parties and MP's.
That would never suit Henshaw. He could not tolerate a rival within the same organisation. Something would have to be done.
Henshaw set his loyal rottweiller David McEhinney on Lasham.
After an entirely blameles career, Lasham was suddenly suspended on the pretext that irregularities in the conduct of elections had been discovered (this discovery of 'irregularities' nonsense was the same pretext which, ironically, was to be employed five years later with Communications Director, Matt Finnegan.)
And here we should pause to reflect that in any organisation, never mind one with Liverpool's chequered history, there are bound to be occassions when rules are bent to get round the strangling bureacracy.
McElhinney's investigation soon discovered that Lasham had recruited a relative to help with polling day duties. The relative had been paid the going rate.
This was held out by a gleeful Henshaw of a fundamental corruption within the organisation of elections.
Swift and decisive action had to be taken.
Lasham was quickly dispensed with. Henshaw even used Finnegan to make public statements about the conduct of elections and the need for probity.
This was all utter bollocks.
Henshaw had got McElhinney to cynically remove a rival and then trumpeted it as a victory for clean government (of which Henshaw, was of course, naturally the most visible proponent.)
And guess what happened next?
Henshaw assumed the role of Chief Returning Officer, pocketing an extra salary of £25,000 a year on top of his £195 grand a year chief exec's salary.
It also gave Henshaw the opportunity to stand on a stage every May, preeen himself in front of the cameras and declare in his puffed-up, pompous way: "I, being the Returning Officer for the said ward of........" etc, etc.
Meanwhile the victimised Lasham was consigned to obscurity, his reputation in tatters.
He had done nothing wrong, except fall foul of Henshw's ego and his greed. (A predicament that Finnegan also found himself in five years later).
There is one further footnote. Henshaw went on holiday to the Caribbean in the run-up to the local council elections (while he was Chief Returning Officer!). At the same time it emerged that an entire block of flats had been missed off the Electoral Register.
The local Merseymart led on the story that Henshaw was sunning himself on a beach while scores of electors were being denied the right to vote because of council incompetence.
On his return, Henshaw went incandescent, screaming and shouting at Finnegan and threatening the individual reporter and his newspaper. Of course, the story was entirely true.
As one councillor was heard to remark: "This would never have happened in Charlie Lassham's day."

Monday, October 09, 2006

NEW CAPTION COMPETITION - Win a place for your band as support act to Madonna when she plays in Liverpool in 2008!

YOU could be support act to Madonna when she appears in Liverpool in Capital of Culture year, 2008.
Yes that's the glittering prize which awaits you in our new caption competition.
All you have to do is submit the best caption to the picture above.
It shows members of Status Quo before their concert last year at the Summer Pops in Liverpool.
They are 'fooling around' backstage like lovable rock 'n' roll stars with members of a a hip new Southport-based band called Abe.
Second from the left in the stripy polo shirt is Abe lead guitarist and vocalist, Liam Halsall, who also happens to be the son of Mr Phil Halsall, Executive Director with Liverpool city council.
MrHalsall, better known as 'The Smiling Assassin', was, at the time, the council official responsible for the Summer Pops, which has so far cost council taxpayers £2.1 million.
The costs soared because Sir David Henshaw, retired chief executive, failed to ensure that the Summer Pops was put out to tender, in accordance with the council's strict rules and regulations. For SIX years.
Instead The Smiling Assassin appears to have repeatedly given the Summer Pops to a company called CMP Entertainment, run by a Mr Chas 'show me the money' Cole.
That's probably enough information for you to come up with a cracking caption.
The winner will have a date with Madonna, when CMP bring her to Liverpool in 2008. The five runners up will all receive special collectors edition, 'I'm Tony Parrish' badges.
Off you go!

Sunday, October 08, 2006


SIR DIDDY is due to speak at a major NHS conference in Chester this week.
What's the betting that he will wheel out his favourite oratorical device - and try to get the delegates dancing?
Sir Diddy has swallowed wholeheartedly (who said he had a heart, ed?) the transatlantic mumbo-jumbo pioneered by US-based management consultants, Senn Delaney.
Henshaw personally hired this bizarre outfit, (breaking all council rules by not going out to any formal tender), to promote something he called The Liverpool Way at the city council.
(This showed his great gift for original thought - he had called the same programme 'the Knowsley Way' when he was chief exec at Knowsley Council!)
This programme of indoctrination in the Henshaw personality cult, managed by McElhinney, cost the city council's taxpayers more than a million quid.
It normally involved senior managers (it was too good for the plebs at the sharp end) being packed off overnight to one of Henshaw's favourite hotels - normally in Cheshire or North Wales, certainly not Liverpool - where they would spend their time playing ridiculous management games and getting all 'touchy feely' with each other. (Was McElhinney an active participant then? ed)
The most embarrassing moment usually came when one senior manager paired up with a colleague and they then sat opposite each other.
One would then have to gaze deeply into their colleague's eyes and recite from a Senn Delaney script, the immortal words: "What I most value about you is.....(fill in the desired words)" and then "What I think you could most improve is..... "(ditto)
For most rational participants this was excruciating gobbledegook, served up with happy clappy Mormon-like enthusiasm by the sharp-suited, swivel-eyed fanatics from Senn Delaney.
Of course%2

Saturday, September 30, 2006


PROFESSOR Paul Corrigan (left) secured Sir David Henshaw's £40,000-a-year job as Chairman of the North West Strategic Health Authority, we can reveal today.
Corrigan was the Downing Street Special Adviser on Health who fixed Henshaw's appointment to the part-time job, a Freedom of Information answer has revealed.
Corrigan ordered fellow bureaucrats to ignore the protests of Liverpool MP Jane Kennedy and 25 other North West MPs who had all opposed Henshaw's appointment.
Ms Kennedy revealed that it was Corrigan who 'set aside' her views and the wishes of democratically elected MP's and was then able to force the suppos
edly independent Appointments Commission to give Henshaw the health job.
Information from the Department of Health, provided under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals that the decision about Henshaw's appointment caused a flurry of meetings, emails and phone conversations between Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt and the Chair of the Appointments Commission, Sir William Wells.
Henshaw's appointment was unique - no other appointment of a Regional Health Chief had caused a similar outcry and concern.
Four complaints by MP's about Henshaw getting the job were made directly to Wells - an unheard of show of anxiety about the appointment of a public servant.
But the Department of Health confirms that Corrigan then telephoned Wells to give the thumbs up to his fomer paymaster, Henshaw.
The full details of Corrigan's role in Henshaw's appointment are described below - although Corrigan's identity was surprisingly and unfortunately omitted from the report in the North West Enquirer (of which Henshaw was, at precisely the same time, a non-executive Director.)
(However, it was one of the few good regional stories carried by the North West Enquirer before it sadly folded, ed)
Interestingly, Corrigan is an old friend and former hired help of Henshaw.
Corrigan was hired by Henshaw shortly after he became chief executive of Liverpool city council in 1999 to "advise on aspects of the modernising agenda, especially in relation to Best Value." He was paid £18,000 for this.
We do not know whether Corrigan declared this previous financial connection when he rang up Sir William Wells at the Appointments Commission to get the job for Henshaw.
Perhaps he forgot. Being an absent-minded professor.

He clearly did not mention either, that Henshaw had blackmailed the city council into a huge £240,000 retirement pay-off.
Perhaps he forgot.
Being an absent-minded professor.
Or that Henshaw had mounted an attempted coup d'etat against the Leader of the city council.
Perhaps he forgot. Being an absent-minded professor.
Or that he had threatened Councillor Mike Storey's job as a headteacher in Knowsley.
Perhaps he forgot.
Being an absent-minded professor.
Clearly this shows that Corrigan, who has been accused of lobbying on behalf of firms bidding for NHS contracts, (shades of Jason Harbarrowboy, ed) owes more personal loyalty to Henshaw than he owes to the National Health Service.
Or to inconvenient notions like democracy, accountability or the rule of law.
Perhaps he forgot. Being an absent-minded professor.
One other interesting fact. Corrigan is also the husband of former Labour Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, who is now Minister for Social Exclusion.
Only the most hard-nosed cynics would now expect to see Henshaw given more lucrative jobs in the field of social exclusion in future or for Corrigan, or his friends, to now start winning NHS contracts in the North West.

We had hoped to be able to link directly to the North West Enquirer's story in May but this does not appear possible now that the Enquirer is sadly defunct. But see their full story below.....

Downing Street 'meddled' in selection of health chief PDF Print E-mail
Published on May 11 2006
by Andy McFarlane

UNELECTED Downing Street officials pressured an independent body to appoint a controversial former council chief as head of the region’s health service despite strong opposition from 20 North West MPs, including four ministers.

The Appointments Commission angered many regional Labour MPs by choosing former Liverpool City Council chief executive Sir David Henshaw as head of the North West Strategic Health Authority (SHA).

They claim he has a poor record in managing social services and highlight the deterioration of his relationship with former city council leader Mike Storey as evidence of his unsuitability for the job.

However, Henshaw hit back at the politicians and claimed he should be judged on his achievements in Liverpool.

The row comes amid claims of an “old boys network” ruling on appointments to health bodies and a systemic failure to ensure accountability.


This week Health Minister Jane Kennedy, previously a prominent New Labour MP, was sacked after telling Tony Blair her position was untenable because she had no confidence in and no respect for Henshaw as head of the new organisation, which from July 1 will be responsible for monitoring and improving local health services across Cheshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Lan-cashire and Cumbria.

She told The Enquirer she had raised the matter with number 10 but the Prime Minister’s special adviser had “made sure her concerns were set aside”.

Both the Appointments Commission and Downing deny any interference.

But Kennedy said: “The Prime Minister’s special adviser holds a totally different opinion on David Henshaw to me but this special adviser, who isn’t elected, had open access to the chairman of the Appointments Commission.

“Immediately after I had had a telephone call... to express my concern, the special adviser rang the chair of the Appointments Commission to make sure my concerns were set aside.” (our emphasis, ed)

Political influence

The Appointments Commission was set up in 2001 to remove political influence from postings to public bodies.

Kennedy said: “I don’t believe that those appointments [to regional strategic health authorities] were completely without political influence.”

Henshaw, who is a non-executive director of The Enquirer, is highly rated by the government. (They mean he was highly rated by his mates, ed) While at Liverpool he was appointed to an external panel to advise on Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s modernisation plans, including the streamlining of SHAs and changes to the way GPs operate.

He is also preparing a report detailing proposals for a shake-up of the Child Support Agency for Work and Pensions Secretary and Barrow MP John Hutton.

Henshaw retired as Liverpool’s chief executive in March, months after Storey stood down having admitted criticising him in internal emails.

Liverpool’s Labour leader Joe Anderson has been critical of Henshaw’s leadership style, claiming he kept the party in the dark on major issues and his failure to support the development of a tram network in the city contributed to its collapse – a charge Henshaw strongly denies.


In September 2004, the Audit Commission rated the city’s Supporting People Programme, designed to look after mentally-ill people and vulnerable youngsters, as “poor”. (Unlike Henshaw's bank balance, ed)

Meanwhile, local MPs say Knowsley Council’s social services was given a “one-star” rating when Henshaw was in charge in the 1990s but is now among the best in the country.

Wavertree MP Kennedy said the fact Henshaw would not be accountable to her, combined with her concerns about the payment-by-results system being introduced in children’s hospitals, such as Liverpool’s Alder Hey, meant she could no longer serve as a minister.

A North West SHA spokesman said authority chairmen were accountable to the Health Secretary, but Kennedy said this was “not my experience as a minister”.

She said when she had asked for reports into the financial difficulties of various NHS organisations she could “only get those reports if the SHAs let me have them”.

“In one or two cases the departments were saying there were no reports when I knew there were. The system isn’t working particularly well and, to a large degree, it works only when people within it want it to work. That makes the critical point about having confidence in those people especially important.”


After hearing Henshaw had been given the job, Knowsley North and Sefton East MP George Howarth wrote a letter to the Appointments Commission calling for the appointment to be withdrawn.

It was signed by 20 Labour MPs.

Among them were party chairman and Salford MP Hazel Blears, Transport Minister Derek Twigg, who represents Halton, and St Helens North Junior Whip David Watts.

Labour group leaders on Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley and St Helens councils have also written to express their concerns.

It has since emerged that NHS trust board members were consulted only after the MPs tried to block the appointment.

Howarth, who discovered what had happened, said they would all now depend on Sir David to stay in their jobs.

The former Home Office and Northern Ireland Minister said the consultation was unbalanced because the views of elected local MPs were over-ridden by the views of people who will owe continued employment to Henshaw.


Another MP who signed the letter, Warrington North’s Helen Jones, said she had already raised concerns about appointments to health bodies, such as primary care trusts.

“They have consistently failed to appoint people from more health-deprived areas. I once described it as golf-club rules; good chaps appoint good chaps. I would describe it as an old boys’ network.”

Members of public bodies are only assessed by their peers and MPs are unable to get questions about them answered in the Commons, she said.

“I asked how we could have input into the assessment of the Cheshire and Mer­seyside Health Authority and got no­­where. There’s no input from outside a small circle of people. They take no notice of local people from my experience in Warrington,” added Jones.

Henshaw had the backing of as few as seven local health officials, (let's have their names, please, ed) compared to the numbers of MPs who protested at his appointment.

Henshaw told The Enquirer the MPs’ letter would not affect him and that people should look at his track record as evidence of his credentials for the role.

“I’m proud of my record as a public sector manager in Liverpool and look forward to managing the NHS. The city council and the city as a whole have improved dramatically,” he said. (Cloud cuckoo land, ed)

Real issues

He said politicians who criticised him over the collapse of the proposed £300m tram project or his relationship with Storey were confusing the real issues.

“The government stopped the tram and the leader of the council committed some serious offences which the Stand­ards Board found brought his office and the council into disrepute. I’ve never criticised anybody.

“I’m looking forward to working with all the MPs in the region and contributing to the reform and development of the NHS. I’ve not seen any letter and no MP has written to me directly,” he added.

When asked about the issue, Blair said: “Jane was a very, very good minister, but she felt very, very strongly about a particular issue to do with appointments within the health service.”

A Downing Street spokesman said she would not comment on Henshaw’s appointment but added: “All government policy advisers fully respect the independent role of the NHS Appoint­ments Commission.”

The Commission said: “We can confirm that the Commission has received a representation from local MPs about the appointment of Sir David Henshaw.

“He was appointed by the Commission following a rigorous re­­cruitment and sel­ection process in line with procedures set out by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and with the involvement of an independent assessor.

“Number 10 did not bring to bear any influence on the appointment decisions. The Commi­ssion is satisfied Sir David is the person for the job. We sincerely hope that his appointment will be accepted and everyone will work with him to ensure the NHS in the North West is able to provide excellent healthcare services to communities across the region, now and in the future.”

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Gordon Brown's plans to allow civil servants like Henshaw to run our health service is another blow to the founding principles of the NHS.
What is the point of voting if politicians are going to hand over enormous power to unaccountable bureaucrats like Henshaw?
Sir Diddy was appointed to the position of Chairman of the North West Strategic Health Authority on the say-so of an unaccountable, unelected adviser to Blair.
Napoleon got the job despite the oppposition of the serving Health Minister, Jane Kennedy and 25 North West MP's.
That was bad enough. But now Gordon wants to go even further.
He apparently wants to give bureaucrats like Henshaw even more power over the day to day running of the health service.
So then they won't be accountable to anyone - least of all the people they are meant to be serving! Never mind the staff who are being employed.
What checks and balances are going to be introduced to ensure that power mad public servants like Henshaw can't do what the hell they like?
If politicians aren't going to be allowed to intervene to make sure a public service properly serves the public, then who can?
It seems that Brown has got carried away with the success of giving independence over interest rates to the Bank of England (an entirely different organisation than the National Health Service, ed)
The same strategy can't be used in a public service like health where politicians must not hesitate to intervene to make sure it is meeting the public's needs.
No one is saying the Health Minister should be interfering in how many paper clips are being bought by Alder Hey, or North Manchester General.
But political control must be exercised over public servants, otherwise we might as well all go home and not bother voting.
See also Larry Neild's views from the Liverpool Daily Post

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


TWENTY journalists have been made redundant today after the closure of the Henshaw house journal, The North West Enquirer.
None of the journo's will get a penny in redundancy money from Henshaw.
The Dark Knight put a five figure sum (£10 grand? ed) into the new weekly six months ago in the hope that it would buy him a little voice in the media.
(Most serious journalists had got wise to his blackmail, bullying and threats after his adventures in Liverpool and tended to treat his usual bullshit with open contempt, ed).
But the Enquirer failed to take off as Henshaw hoped and poor sales and lack of advertising revenue made it a sure fire failure.
How much Henshaw will lose no-one yet knows. (But we hope it is lots of the dosh he stole from council taxpayers in Liverpool, ed).
More importantly it will be yet another blow to his enormous ego.
After his failures in Liverpool and Capital of Culture, he can now add the Enquirer.
Whither Wicked FM, we wonder?
Meanwhile commiserations to the journalists at the Enquirer - we take no pleasure in its inevitable demise.
It was a weekly newspaper based on a fallacy - that people in Anfield would have the same interests as those in Ardwick.
But some of the journalists were at least trying to write serious, informed stuff - in stark contrast to the disastrous Liverpool Echo.
Henshaw certainly won't be weeping any tears about what will happen to the Enquirer journalists and their families now.
Overall it has been a shocking indictment of the management of the Enquirer (Nick Jaspan, Bob Waterhouse, Henshaw et al.)
It was ill-considered, poorly researched, had wretched deadlines, crap distribution, no marketing, no news sense, and Henshaw toadying columnists (Lew Baxter and Jim Hancock, ed).
Anyone want to start a blog?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The last days of Henshaw's regime at Liverpool city council were like a scene from the Berlin bunker.

Sir David ordered in his aide de camp Danny Clare (aHa - another Henshaw appointment) to spend an entire weekend sifting through dozens of files in the council's Municipal Building.
Henshaw then stood over poor Clare as he shredded literally hundreds of documents in the great man's huge office.
Apparently there was so much shredded paper that porters were ordered to trundle in purple wheely bins to cope with it all. (Henshaw is pictured illustrating the size of one file of emails about Mike Storey which he shredded).
But what other secret documents were destroyed we wonder? Who did they belong to - Henshaw or the city council? And who gave him permission to destroy council property?
Poor Clare's reward for his loyal destruction was later to be moved to a council backwater when Hilton assumed the role of new chief exec.
And the Berlin bunker took an even more sinister turn when an IT expert was enlisted by McElhinney from Liverpool Direct to wipe clean the computer hard drives of all the members of the evil cabal - Henshaw, the Rottweiller himself and the smiling assassin, Halsall.
Goodness knows what juicy evidence was being disposed of here. We can only speculate about the emails which passed between the evil cabal concerning Storey, Bradley, Joe Anderson, Colin Hilton, Regeneration Executive Director Charlie Parker (we confidently predict), Matt Finnegan and anyone else they had conspired against.
But here's the rub. Henshaw, McElhinney and Halsall still have council computers at home, which they have not yet wiped. These appear to have been overlooked by the city council.
Why doesn't someone insist the council go and seize back its property - and take a look at what is on these computers?
And as part of any investigation into contracts, and in the interests of open government and genuine transparency, why doesn't the council take a leaf out of Scotland Yard's book?
The Yard are using the latest American software to unearth deleted emails from computers as part of their loans for Lords enquiry.
If it's good enough for the capital its good enough for the Capital of Culture.
And who knows what interesting stuff the council might find.
Just a suggestion of course.

This post first appeared on the now legendary It has been reproduced here by kind permission of Tony Parrish Productions (c). We are eternally grateful to him. Below are the original comments made...


Sir David said...

I have now thrown my council computer into the Mersey.

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Dr McElhinney said...

Me too

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Mr Halsall said...

What's a computer?

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Tony Parrish said...

The thing in front of you, dunderhead.

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Jim G said...

As one of those who has been admitted to the inner sanctum of the evil cabal and seen Mr Henshaw at work, I can fully imagine him strutting around his giant office like a little Napoleon instructing council staff about which documents needed to be shredded. Its a pity you haven't learnt to amend photos yet, Tony, you could have drawn a nice little Napoleonic hat on his head for this particular post. What surprises me is that people are still apparently taking Henshaw seriously when his puffed up arrogance is clear for all to see. Your blog however is doing a rather nice little job of exposing the seamy side of his time at the city. Good luck with it!

Sunday, July 16, 2006
Mel said...

Yes, but are we ever going to be able to move on from those bad old days?

Monday, July 17, 2006
objective said...

Alas, there are no prospects that DH's computer files will be recovered. That only happens when the police investigate a crime, and he hasn't been charged with any crime - yet.

Also, shredding files by departing executives is pretty standard business practice these days, especially by those who wish the skeletons to remain firmly buried.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Anonymous said...

The computers must be seized.

The bank statements must be seized.

The assets must be accounted for by taxed earnings.

The tax office must asses whether David Henshaw's expenditure can be accounted for via taxed earnings.

Oh Yeah and if Councilor Kemp is so sure that the content of this blog is largely false was he around to witness documents not being shredded and wheelied off .

The only way to recycle them is to seize the computers - both sets as evidence. ongoing computers would be a good read not doubt.

Sunday, July 30, 2006
Anonymous said...

LDL have the software to recover back anything DH wiped, but the chances of our illustrious leader authorising that is non existent. Techs do what they are told.
Senior Council officer to techie:"Just wipe out all evidence of the chickswithdicks websites and tell his PA it was a network problem"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


There have been more official protests over the appointment of Henshaw to the £40,000-a-year post as Chairman of the North West Regional Strategic Health Authority.
Gordon Prentice, Labour MP for Pendle, (pictured left) has wrung the highly unusual admission from Health Minister Rosie Winterton that four official complaints about the appointment have been received by the Health Appointments Commission.
Already 25 North West MP's, including several Government Ministers, have signed a letter of protest about the blackmailer Henshaw being rewarded with even more public money! And to her great credit, Liverpool Wavertree MP Jane Kennedy (above right) resigned as a Health Minister in protest at greedy Henshaw getting the job. We are reliably informed that Mr Prentice will not be leaving it at that and will be pursuing the appointment further. Good for him. It seems that 'the problem with Henshaw' is just not going away.

This post first appeared on the now legendary It has been reproduced here by kind permission of Tony Parrish Productions (c). We are eternally grateful to him. Below are the original comments made...


Matt said...

Restores my faith in politicians!!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006
Angel said...

This one went right up to Number 10 - it was an unnamed 'special adviser' there who rung the 'Independent' (sic) Appointments Commission to overrule the (then) Minister's objections to King Rat's appointment.

I would dearly love to know more about this special relationship between Dodgy Dave and Phoney Tony.

Two city academies and one shopping centre for a Duke = One knighthood and a grand a day from the CSA?

Also it seems immunity from prosecution. Maybe Blair has to have his collar felt before the Cabal do? Ho hum won't be long now!

Monday, July 24, 2006
Tony Parrish said...

I have asked a series of Freedom of Information questions about this. And am still waiting for the answers!!!!
I want to identify the adviser - Jane, can you help?