Friday 19th July 2024,
North Yorks Enquirer

Libellous Potto

October 22, 2023 Potto

Libellous Potto

An Open Letter to Potto Parish Councillors – members, arguably, of the worst Parish Council in the country.

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Potto Parish Councillors

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

Councillors,

My editor, Mr THORNE, has asked me to respond to your Council’s reply to his email of Tuesday 10th October 2023 at 23:01h, reproduced here for your convenience of reference:

Subject: Accuracy at NYEnquirer

Dear Potto Parish Council

My attention has been drawn to your assertions about the NYEnquirer, as published on
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/information_to_verify_if_the_17#incoming-2305411.

You allege “that the information published by North Yorks Enquirer is inaccurate”. As the Editor, I take great pride in publishing factually accurate and impartial data, in the public interest.

Please identify any inaccuracies, providing the correct details and adequate evidential support for your allegation.

I will ensure any necessary corrections are made and apologies issued.

Otherwise, please retract your libelous statement.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Thorne

The Council’s response, transmitted by email on Wednesday 18th October 2023 at 10:56h, is reproduced below:

Mr Thorne,

Thank you for your email, which was discussed at the October meeting of PPC.

Councillors were somewhat surprised to read your statement “As the Editor, I take great pride in publishing factually accurate and impartial data, in the public interest” as it is clear that none of your articles published about Potto can be seen to be either factual, accurate or impartial. Your so called journalists have never sought to ask what the other side to any story is, 2which
[sic] would enable them to provide the public with an impartial and balanced view, rather you seek to publish sensationalist story’s[sic] based on an unreputable source with little or no factual evidence.

Therefore, in answer to your question, all of your stories about Potto are factually incorrect, and if NYEnquirer has any integrity you will stand by your statement ” I will ensure any necessary corrections are made and apologies issued.”

We look forwards
[sic] to seeing these apologies.

Potto Parish Council

The Council’s response is not, in fact, the response of Potto Parish Council (as the email purports), since the Agenda for the October meeting did not record my editor’s email as correspondence to the Council, nor was the matter an Item of Business on this Agenda.

Accordingly, any Council decision (more properly, Resolution) on this matter is ultra vires. I note the draft October Minutes fail to record anything whatsoever about this matter.

Nevertheless, it seems that members discussed my editor’s email and someone did make a decision – which was to send a reply to my editor. However, as the nature of the response was not recorded (another unlawful act), I must conclude that the response is NOT in fact Potto Parish Council’s response; rather a personal response from the (purported) Chair, Councillor Andrew WILDE (though he appears to lack the integrity or courage to put his name to it).

Furthermore, whilst Councillor WILDE seems to fulfil the role of Chair, he has never been formally appointed as Chair for the last decade or more. 

In any case, his assertions are, in the most charitable terms, unmitigated nonsense – not least because of the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations’ somewhat understated Recommendation of 27th September 2019, which confirms that the present ‘Chair’ is not actually the legitimate Chair:

This Recommendation was never embraced by Potto Parish Council – the ‘upcoming meetings’ make no reference to this most serious ‘weakness’. The legitimate election of a Chair has not taken place.
I have been unable to locate any Minute of any meeting since that date to evidence the contention that this astonishing failure has ever been rectified. The consequence is that every meeting since that time has been unlawfully convened. The ‘Chair’ has thus repeatedly and remorselessly continued to misrepresented himself to the wider world.
Such lack of governance and accountability is something that may well be of interest to PKF LITTLEJOHN LLP.

In a similar vein, I can find no record of any of the present members achieving a democratic mandate at the ballot box. As I have recently quoted (elsewhere), NYC Leader Councillor Carl LES has stated:

“While local handing of services such as parks and public toilets could lead to improvements for residents, it would be “healthier” if more parish and town councillors making significant financial decisions on behalf of taxpayers had a democratic mandate.

The North Yorks Enquirer has published 15 (fifteen) of my articles on the subject of Potto Parish Council. I list them here for your convenience of reference:

The Enquirer has also published 2 (two) of my articles on your Council’s Internal Auditor, Mr Roger Alan BRISLEY FCA, who is presently under investigation by his regularity body, the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England & Wales (ICAEW):

The Enquirer has also published 1 (one) photoon by the resident photoonist, clearly a satirical reference to the repair of a finger-sign – property not owned by Potto Parish Council – at a price many times that of independently obtained formal quotations:

In addition to the aforementioned publications, the Enquirer has also published 4 (four) Letters to the Editor by members of the public who, judging by the tenor of their letters, are as appalled as I am regarding the atrocious way in which your Council has betrayed the public trust:

Thus, the Enquirer has published a total of 22 (twenty-two) publications about Potto Parish Council. I hope that members have read these publications and drawn them to the attention of the Potto electorate.

To remind the Council, you have stated, in reference to the Enquirer publications on the subject of Potto, that:

  • none of your articles published about Potto can be seen to be either factual, accurate or impartial”

This causes me some wry amusement, albeit in circumstances of a very grave nature. The facts that I have relied upon were furnished by (i) Potto Parish Council itself, (ii) the Information Commissioner’s Office, (iii) the Judiciary, (iv) PKF LTTLEJOHN LLP, (v) the Yorkshire Local Councils Associations (YLCA), (vi) the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), (vii) Hambleton District Council, (viii) North Yorkshire Council, etc, etc, etc.

The Council has also stated:

  • “Your so called journalists have never sought to ask what the other side to any story is”

This is demonstrably untrue. I emailed the Chair and the Clerk/RFO on 15th March 2021, requesting assistance and offering a ‘Right of Reply’. Apart from an Auto-Response (see below), nothing further has been heard from the Council:

How typical, then, that the Council includes in its email to Mr THORNE a blatant lie.

I invite you to count the number of direct (screenshot) citations abstracted from Potto Parsh Council Agendas, Minutes, Standing Orders, Financial Regulations, Orders of Work, Invoices, Bank Statements and other Council documentation. There are, quite literally, scores.

I invite you to count the number of direct (screenshot) citations abstracted from correspondence between the Infomation Commissioner’s Office and your Council. There are many.

I invite you to count the number of direct (screenshot) citations abstracted from PKF LITTLEJOHN LLP’s 2022 Public Interest Report with its litany of innumerable “significant weaknesses” propagated by the Council (and, conveniently, ‘overlooked’ by the Council’s Internal Auditor, Mr Roger Alan BRISLEY FCA.

I invite you to count the number of direct (screenshot) citations abstracted from Judges’ Decision Notices and other rulings. There are (let me inform you) more in the pipeline.

The fact remains that the Council has been unable to substantiate the allegations of the ‘Chair’, or address Mr THORNE’s concerns (see below) in any substantive way:

  • You allege “that the information published by North Yorks Enquirer is inaccurate”.

You allege it – but, even granted the opportunity – the Council has proved itself unable to produce even one single example of any inaccuracy whatsoever in 22 (twenty-two) publications.

Is the Council earnest in its implausible suggestion that, in the face of innumerable direct condemnations from a wide variety of august governing bodies – condemnations which form the very bedrock of my entirely justified criticisms of Potto Parish Council – are not “factual, accurate or impartial”?

Are Councillors relying on the groundless assertion of its ‘Chair’ that the fully-qualified External Auditors, Solicitors, Regulatory Investigators and Judges who have scrutinised and ruled upon Potto Parish Council’s conduct are all liars?

Because, if such is the case, then it is my contention that members have firmly positioned themselves in one of two categories of human being. I invite you to choose:

. . . or;

Half-wits or liars? One or the other – or possibly both?

Councillors, in my view (and few have scrutinised your activities in greater depth than I) you are, collectively, a remorseless and unrepentant disgrace to local government, due to your gullibility, your exceptional incompetence, your refusal to abide by due process or statutory requirement, your persistent adherence to the view that everyone else is “vexatious” and/or simply wrong, your endless and absurd assertions that all the Council’s ‘weaknesses’ were rectified years before the Audit Reports were ever compiled – all of which simply corroborates your innate and bottomless dishonesty.

I await your precise identification of any inaccuracies in any of my articles, together with evidence in support of your Council’s pusillanimous allegations.

Otherwise, I strenuously advise you to retract, without further prevarication, your libellous statement here on WhatDoTheyKnow.com:

Last chance saloon. You are now on notice.
Finally, I ask you this:
“How can you conceivably maintain confidence in the probity of your Council under its present ‘Chair’?”
Good day to you all.
Regards,
Nigel

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