Wednesday 08th July 2020,
North Yorks Enquirer

Hypocrites & Idiots: NYP Essential Journeys #10

Hypocrites & Idiots: North Yorkshire Police Essential Journeys #10

by TIM HICKS

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NYE Media Operations during the coronavirus pandemic

Recently, there have been a series of scandals publicised in the national and local media about the great and the good enforcing Coronavirus Lockdown Regulations on the rest of us, while ignoring them themselves. Or, put another way, there is one law for the powerful and another for everyone else.

This is clearly unacceptable in a democratic society and has outraged public opinion. The media has done a good job in holding public bodies and figures to account on this. It is right and proper that it does so.

The NYE has also played a part in this by exposing Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain for breaching the Coronavirus Regulations. Between them they have:

  • Made journeys to police and fire stations in Scarborough, Skipton and Harrogate that are not absolutely necessary.
  • Not maintained the two metre social distancing rules, thereby endangering the health and safety of police staff.
  • Publicly ridiculed members of the public that committed the same offences they themselves committed.
  • Taken advantage of their rank and position as Chief Police Officers to ensure they will not be arrested by officers of North Yorkshire Police for contravening the lockdown rules.
  • Failed to set the appropriate example to the public and their subordinates in North Yorkshire Police as Chief Police Officers.
  • Publicly undermined the efforts of every other police officer in North Yorkshire to protect the public by preventing unnecessary travel.
  • Issued public statements on social media approving of this conduct, when they should be following the example of the NYE by doing everything they can to discourage it. Thereby making fools of themselves, bringing the force into disrepute and opening it up to ridicule.

This resulted in national coverage of their actions in Private Eye, as a result of the NYE’s journalism.

Private Eye Article

But be it noted, such is the poor quality of the local traditional media, that no North Yorkshire media outlet has covered this story, despite the fact that it has gone national and that similar stories have been covered extensively in the national and regional media. Of which more later.

More Idiots

In response to this piece, Private Eye received a complaint which it published and which is reproduced below, along with a response from the NYE.

For editorial reasons of space, a full response could not be published, but to make up for this, I would make the following additional points.

  • Along with everyone else, the NYE team have feelings of admiration for the NHS and the emergency services and the way they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic at the risk of their own lives. The NYE has tried to support their efforts by discouraging unnecessary travel and promulgating the lockdown regulations.
  • Chief Constable Winward recently attended a conference by video from her laptop without a face to face meeting, thereby complying with the coronavirus regulations. This does confirm that there was no reason for her or her Deputy to visit any police station for any reason, given that they could communicate perfectly well using the video conferencing facility on their laptop. Contrary to what Mr Farrow states in his letter, there was no valid justification for either officer to endanger their health and the health of others by visiting police and fire stations.
  • I think Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain have been stupid, irresponsible and arrogant. However, I do not agree that they can be categorised as “ignorant morons” for deliberately and knowingly breaching the Coronavirus regulations. Nor do I agree that people that spit on police officers are “ignorant morons”. In my view, they are far worse than that and can only be categorised as vicious, violent criminals, who should be punished severely.

In my opinion, the conduct of Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain in breaching the Coronavirus Regulations and endangering the health of the police officers they command has been despicable. It represents a catastrophic failure of leadership. By publicising this abuse, the NYE is acting openly and publicly to prevent further abuses, thereby protecting the health and lives of police officers, firemen and their families.

This is entirely reasonable and our public duty as journalists.

To this end and to deter further future abuses, I have submitted a complaint about both officers to Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, Mrs Julia Mulligan. I have received an acknowledgement, but nothing further. The complaint can be read here. I have not been notified of the outcome of it as yet.

More Hypocrisy

Since the last article on non-essential journeys was published in the NYE, there have been several other cases of high profile public figures with responsibility for implementing and/or enforcing the COVID 19 Lockdown Regulations on the public breaching the regulations.

Professor Neil Ferguson and Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Dr Catherine Calderwood

Professor Neil Ferguson, the government’s chief adviser on coronavirus has been forced to resign because he breached the coronavirus regulations on two occasions by arranging meetings with his married lover. He has been forced to resign because he undermined the government’s response to the Coronavirus epidemic, by contravening the lockdown regulations he was instrumental in implementing and failing to set the appropriate example.

The circumstances appear to be similar to those which led to the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Dr Catherine Calderwood receiving a formal police caution for making unnecessary journeys. Very properly, she was also forced to resign.

I make no comment on the morality or otherwise of Professor Ferguson being in a relationship with a married woman. In my view, that is a matter for his own conscience.

However, I feel that Professor Ferguson’s transgression is far worse than Dr Calderwood’s, because his mistress is a mother and in an open marriage. This means that by visiting Professor Ferguson and risking infection while travelling for the non-essential purpose of nookie, she endangered the health of her children, her husband, any other lovers she may have and their families.

Dominic Cummings

Political Strategist and Political Advisor the Prime Minister Dominic Cummings (pictured, top) is alleged to have breached the Coronavirus Regulations.

Mr Cummings has himself had COVID-19 symptoms three days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the virus. A very clear example of why it is imperative that people self-isolate at work.

Mr Cummings is alleged to have visited his parent’s home in Durham twice, a journey of two hundred-and-sixty-four miles each way, at a time when he had COVID-19 symptoms. He is also alleged to have been seen in the picturesque market town of Barnard Castle thirty miles away from his parent’s home on the 12th of April, when he should have been self-isolating. The allegations are set out in full in this BBC article.

He has denied these allegations and stated that he travelled to Durham to make child care arrangements for his children.

The Prime Minister has defended Cummings stating that he had acted “responsibly, legally and with integrity”. Quite how that stacks up when there are plenty of parents that are self-isolating while separated from their children escapes me. If the allegations are true, he appears to have indulged in exactly the same conduct that led to the resignation of Professor Ferguson and Dr Calderwood.

Mike Barton the former Chief Constable of Durham Police quoted in the Guardian here has described the decision not to prosecute Mr Cummings as ‘shameful’: 

“It is clear he has broken the rules. It could not be clearer. I cannot think of a worse example of a breach of the lockdown rules. For it then to be defended by the government just beggars belief. What is particularly sad and undermines completely the government position is they seem to be operating in a bubble of self-privilege and denial when they all should be leading by example. ‘Hypocrite’ was invented for these circumstances… Of course it is double standards.” 

“It feels like feudal times. We make the rules and it is for you, the great unwashed, to follow them.”

Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie of the British Transport Police

Chief Superintendent Eddie Wylie is the Senior Police Officer commanding the British Transport Police in Scotland. According to this Scottish Daily Record article, he made two trips from his work location in Glasgow to Yorkshire to see his wife:

 A complaint has been made about the BTP head’s trips via the force’s confidential whistleblower system. One BTP source told the Record: 

“He is going back and forth to his second home in Yorkshire when his own officers are warning people over unnecessary travel. That would strike any reasonable person as just plain wrong surely. The whole place is honestly really angry and frustrated with him”. 

The whistleblower added: “He kept his house in Yorkshire and that’s where he and his wife generally stay. The whole place knows he’s doing it, which makes it worse, as he’s got no justification for driving back down to Yorkshire other than seeing his wife – but that’s obviously not allowed in these circumstances, given the distance he’s travelling to do so”. 

“He has no legitimate work reason to be in Yorkshire. It just suits him domestically, that’s all. His job title is the BTP Scotland divisional commander so all his staff and responsibilities are in Scotland, not south of the border. It’s just not on that others are restricted from seeing family and loved ones during this lockdown but Wylie feels it acceptable to travel back and forth to Yorkshire.”

It is encouraging that the Daily Record was tipped off by a BTP whistle-blower, indicating that police officers are just as concerned about the consequences to their health of misconduct by Senior Police Officers as the NYE. This vindicates the NYE highlighting the issue in North Yorkshire, to help safeguard the health of police officers.

A BTP spokesperson is quoted in the Daily Record as saying:

“Since the restrictions came into force, Chief Superintendent Wylie has been staying in the Glasgow flat. He has returned to his residential family home in Yorkshire on two separate occasions, between March 21 and May 13. Both times, he travelled home alone and by car to minimise any possible exposure to others and ensure there was no risk to any members of the public.” 

Whilst this statement seems to me to evade the point that he should not be doing any travelling, nevertheless it is encouraging that the BTP is going through a formal investigative process into the allegations and is commenting publicly.

Chief Constable Winward

Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain are both alleged to have committed the same offence alleged to have been committed by Chief Superintendent Wylie, Mr Dominic Cummings, Dr Calderwood and Professor Ferguson.

Chief Constable Lisa Winward

Lectures the public on coronavirus lockdown rules while breaking them herself

Chief Superintendent Wylie is being investigated by his force and has been held to account by local media. Compare the prompt and open response by the BTP to that employed by North Yorkshire Police, which has made no public comment. There has also been no denial, explanation or apology from either officer.

We are all equal under the law. All of the national papers, Chief Constable Barton and most local media have taken the same line on this story. It is wrong for influential public figures to evade prosecution for breaching the coronavirus regulations because of their rank. This is clearly an abuse of power and an issue of legitimate public concern.

The comments of Chief Constable Barton above on would appear to me to apply equally to Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain.

Whilst it is pleasing to see NYE journalism being supported by other media outlets. It saddens me that the NYE is the only media outlet in North Yorkshire to cover Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain’s transgressions. All the other outlets have imposed a wall-to-wall news blackout. The implication is clear. If you want cutting edge journalism, covering the controversies of the day, the NYE is the media outlet to go to.

In the meantime, Chief Constable Winward has been busy broadcasting on the Lockdown Rules. She can be heard in this Yorkshire Cost Radio article here explaining the Lockdown rules and giving police advice not to travel. The same advice that she and Deputy Chief Constable Cain ignored.

Chief Constable Winward and Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner Mulligan were both provided with a draft of this article and invited to comment, but did not.

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If you are mentioned in this article and do not agree with the views expressed in it, or if you wish to correct any factual inaccuracy, please let me know and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.

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