Election Candidates Under Investigation
- – an “In My View” article by NIGEL WARD, confirming official investigations by NYCC into serious allegations reported here and here. Racism or malice?
Tomorrow, Thursday 5th May 2022, electors of the County of North Yorkshire will go to the polls to elect 90 Councillors for a 5-year term.
Within the Borough of Scarborough, as I have already confirmed, two Labour Candidates have been investigated in relation to failure to declare Interests in a Planning matter. The Investigator’s Reports have been completed but are being withheld by SBC Monitoring Officer Lisa DIXON until well after the elections – leading to Opposition objections that this delay signifies a pro-Labour bias on the part of the Monitoring Officer.
I can now confirm that investigations into four more election Candidates have been initiated by North Yorkshire County Council into as-yet unproven allegations regarding events at a meeting of one of the Political Groups within the Borough of Scarborough some time ago.
It is alleged, by a County & Borough Councillor, that another County & Borough Councillor – witnessed by at least a third County & Borough Councillor and at least one Borough Councillor – likened a named SBC senior Officer to a “Moslem Bomber”.
In a separate objection over pro-Labour bias, the Monitoring Officer allegedly declined to accept a Formal Complaint over the “Moslem Bomber” allegation, referring the Complainant to the Group Chair for internal resolution within the Party. It is also alleged that the said Group Chair, having been duly alerted to the allegation about the aforementioned racist/Islamophobic slur, failed to progress the allegation in accordance with the requirements of either the Councillors’ Code of Conduct or the Group Constitution, thus protecting the accused from investigation, possible sanction and likely public censure. This Councillor, too, is now under investigation.
These allegations have also been referred, by NYCC Monitoring Officer Barry KHAN, to Scarborough Borough Council, whose response (at the time of writing is not known) – though SBC CEO Mike GREENE, the Deputy Returning Officer, has been aware of the serious nature of these allegations since 19th April 2022 (I am told, long before) but has not engaged with me.
I can also confirm that the certain aspects of the allegations have been referred to the North Yorkshire Police (NYP) in respect of potential breaches of the the Equalities Act (which prohibits racist/hate crimes), the Representation of the People Act 1983 (which prohibits the making of false allegations against fellow Candidates in an election) and/or the Malicious Communications Act 2003 (which prohibits propagating falsehoods likely to cause anxiety, fear or distress) – both criminal offences.
To republish false allegations is a breach of the Defamation Act 2014. Since I lack the investigatory powers or facilities to determine the truth (or falsehood) of the allegations, I would be foolish indeed to identify any of the protagonists and I have given Monitoring Officer Mr Barry KHAN (with whom I enjoy an excellent working relationship), my word of honour that I will not do so, ahead of the elections.
However, I am deeply concerned that electors might go to the polls tomorrow deprived of the knowledge that they may be inadvertently casting their votes in favour of a racist Islamophobe.
Equally, I am deeply concerned that electors might go to the polls tomorrow deprived of the knowledge that they may be inadvertently casting their votes in favour of a malicious criminal.
Racism – or Malice?
There is no middle ground. There is no place for one of these Candidates in our new Authority. One would hope that there will be no place in the new barrel for any rotten apples.
It would appear to me that, whichever way one looks at it – either ‘racist allegations true’, or ‘malicious accusations false’ – the new Authority may be faced with the possibility of an early resignation, for in neither case could the ‘guilty’ elected member be accepted as a worthy representative.
Certainly, one of the great hopes of the new Authority is that its 90 members should behave in an honourable and respectful manner – the very opposite of these three years of almost lethal toxicity in the SIDDONS incarnation of Scarborough Borough Council – with its threats, verbal abuse and retaliatory, ‘tit-for-tat’ member-on-member complaints.
In my experience, Standards are altogether higher at Northallerton.
I close by expressing my gratitude to Mr KHAN for his time, professionalism and courtesy. Thanxalot, Barry.