Finance chief accused of ‘lurking’ in burn protesters’ WhatsApp group

Councillor denies he was ‘monitoring’ anti-incinerator activists’ chat

Friday, 21st January

Cllr Satnam Gill

Cllr Satnam Gill: ‘I didn’t cover my name, I didn’t hide anything’

ISLINGTON’S finance chief has denied “monitoring” the anti-Edmonton incinerator campaign after activists accused him of “lurking” on a WhatsApp group chat.

Members of “Stop the incinerator!” WhatsApp group chat accused Councillor Satnam Gill for “lurking” on the chat without announcing his presence on Monday.

Cllr Gill sits on the North London Waste Authority’s board, meaning he is one of the 14 councillors to green-light the enlargement of the Edmonton Incinerator.

Comprised of about 140 members, the group chat declares itself to be for “residents and organisations across North London working to stop the rebuilding of the NLWA’s Edmonton Incinerator”.

Campaigners say that in the interests of transparency, and given his position as an NLWA board member, Cllr Gill should have declared himself when he became a member.

“We ask new members to introduce themselves and he didn’t,” said Carina Millstone, founder of the Stop The Edmonton Incinerator Now coalition.

The chat is used to discuss “the protest, the judicial review – the legal challenge. He didn’t participate in any way, he just observed,” Ms Millstone said.

“It’s extraordinary, it’s completely inappropriate for a board member of the NLWA to be part of a group chat that describes itself as ‘working to stop the rebuilding of the NLWA’s Edmonton Incinerator’.”

Cllr Gill joined the group chat on January 6, and remained a member for 10 days, until he was identified by campaigners – at which point he left.

“Someone wrote: ‘It’s very odd that you’ve been lurking without comment nor contributing, nor assisting in our efforts to reach NLWA or councillors’,” said Ms Millstone.

“I think he should apologise and say it was an error of judgement.”

Cllr Gill denied he was “monitoring” the group.

He told the Tribune: “I was surprised I got an invite from somebody in the group saying, do you want to join this group? But other than that I didn’t think much about it really. I didn’t cover my name, I didn’t hide anything – if I’d wanted to hide, I’d have made up a name or something. I have not done any of that.”

He added: “It’s a big group, it’s got Liberals, its got Greens, its got Tories, it’s got Labour Party members, and all of a sudden people felt that I hadn’t been completely clear.

“I haven’t covered anything up, I’ve just occasionally listened to some of the discussion [on recycling], which is quite fascinating.

“I think some people seem to have felt that there was something fishy about it. So I said, ‘well, if you feel it’s fishy, I’ll leave.’”

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