North Yorkshire’s Finest – (new series)
TIM HICKS launches a new series of articles on prominent people in North Yorkshire, satirically entitled “North Yorkshire’s Finest”.
Each article will be updated as and when other issues arise, so that the article will remain current. It will follow the subject throughout their career and can be used as a source by other journalists.
North Yorkshire’s Finest 1.1
Inspector Graeme Kynman and WTC Mayor Councillor Lynda Wild
Regular readers will be aware that I have recently run a series of articles on breaches of the Coronavirus lockdown regulations by prominent people. Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain was identified making a wholly unnecessary journey to Scarborough Police Station to attend a retirement ceremony for a member of staff at which he did not observe social distancing, or wear a mask. This led to a very well deserved appearance in Private Eye.
Another prominent person caught making an unnecessary journey was Whitby Town (WTC) Mayor Councillor Linda Wild (Conservative). Seen below attending the unveiling of a statue in Whitby on Friday the 14th of August 2020.
It seems to me that at a time when members of the public are being fined for not following the Coronavirus regulations, it is wrong for the great and the good to ignore the rules that apply to the rest of us. This has recently been upheld in parliament with the decision to place Ms Margaret Ferrier MP (SNP) under investigation for making an unnecessary journey.
Sadly, it appears that these standards of holding public figures to account apply in Westminster, but not in North Yorkshire.
To confront the issue of North Yorkshire Police acquiescing to politicians breaking the rules with impunity and to give Councillor Wild the opportunity of responding, I asked Councillor Wild and WTC Clerk Mr Michael King for a comment on this matter. I received this response from Mr King:
The Town Mayor was invited to participate in this low-key, early morning unveiling of the first sculpture in the trail by Scarborough Borough Council, which has commissioned the artworks. In line with the statutory and advisory guidance in place on the date of the launch, appropriate distance outdoors was maintained. As in the photo, face-to-face contact was avoided and appropriate precautions were taken.
No similar events are currently planned by the town council. Any invitations which are received will be assessed in line with guidance pertinent at the time.
I did not receive any response from Councillor Wild.
Analysing Mr King’s remarks, I would comment that the time of day and description of the event as “low key” is irrelevant. It appears to me that Councillor Wild has contravened the joint SBC and WTC advice on precautions to be taken during the COVID-19 pandemic:
“You can help by staying alert. This means you must:
- Stay at home as much as possible.
- Work from home if you can.
- Limit contact with other people.
- Keep your distance if you go out (at least one metre apart, more where possible).
- Not hold or attend celebrations (such as parties [which would presumably include civic social events]) where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and avoid close social interaction – even if they are organised by businesses and venues that are taking steps to follow COVID-19 secure guidelines.
- Limit social interaction with anyone outside the group you are attending a place with, even if you see other people you know, for example, in a restaurant, community centre or place of worship.
- Try to limit the number of people you see, especially over short periods of time, to keep you and them safe, and save lives. The more people with whom you interact, the more chances we give the virus to spread.
- You can also minimise the risk of spreading infection by following some key principles. You should:
Continue to follow strict social distancing guidelines when you are with anyone not in your household or your support bubble”.
Here I disagree with Mr King. It appears to me that strict social distancing guidelines would seem to me to mean two metre’s distance and wearing masks, which it is clear were not observed at the unveiling of the statue.
So, contrary to what Mr King claims in his media statement above, I think it is pretty obvious that irrespective of whether it was “low key” and whatever time of the day or night it took place, attendance at this event was blatantly contrary to the SBC and WTC COVID-19 advice.
As influential public figures and community leaders, Councillors have a duty to set an appropriate example. In my opinion Councillor Wild should not have undertaken a non-essential journey to a SBC social function with people from outside their households, at which they ignored social distancing, did not wear face masks, then posed for photographs showing everyone ignoring SBC and WTC guidance on protecting one’s self in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Quite apart from the fact that unnecessary civic social events endanger lives, by publicly supporting these events, Councillor Wild has undermined the effort to limit contact and prevent deaths from COVID 19. By denying that her conduct constitutes a breach of the WTC and SBC guidance when it obviously does, Mr King has done the same.
The end result of this type of conduct is that thousands of “idiots” (Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain’s term) have ignored the advice on safeguarding lives during the COVID 19 pandemic and visited Scarborough and Whitby as shown in the lead illustration. One local resident has written to me observing that “huge crowds come to Whitby and Scarborough with total disregard of the guidance. It has been like Bank Holiday Monday EVERY day”.
Obviously, an influx of outsiders, some of whom will almost certainly be infected, endangers the health of the good townspeople of Whitby.
More positively, according to Yorkshire Coast Radio, another seven of these SBC social events were planned. This caused the NYE additional concern because of the ongoing risk of spreading infections of COVID-19 at these SBC civic functions. However, according to Mr King’s statement above, this has changed and now no more unnecessary social functions are planned. This is presumably because the NYE has highlighted this issue. A very clear cut victory for common sense and the importance of having a free press in Scarborough and Whitby that holds Councillors and public bodies to account.
Responsive local policing Winward, Cain, Mulligan, Siddons-style
Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain are alleged to have blatantly and publicly contravened the lockdown rules, diverted police resources away from operational duties, indulged in non-essential travel and ignored social distancing.
No one denies that Chief Constable Winward and Deputy Chief Constable Cain breached the lockdown regulations and a complaint was made against both Officers.
However, it has been ignored by Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner, Julia Mulligan (Conservative).
The North Yorkshire Police force website directs the public to contact the Scarborough & Whitby neighbourhood team to report local incidents of anti-social behaviour etc. via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an SBC email address, not an NYP address, which goes through the SBC server and is under SBC control.
In 2017, SBC Councillors complained that SBC routinely intercepts communications from anyone it deems to be “vexatious” and determines whether or not to forward them to the intended recipient: Every person that writes regularly for the NYE is on this list including me. Any e mail we send is withheld from the recipient, redirected to a holding account and ignored.
I believe that this is not because any of us are vexatious, but because acting as local community journalists, we have consistently embarrassed SBC Councillors and Officers with our coverage of local scandals. The most famous of which was our exposure of the leading Conservative politician Peter Jaconelli as a rapist and child abuser, who was protected by the police and SBC. In my belief, SBC has never forgiven me for this and it pursues this policy vindictively, to inhibit my ability as a journalist to hold SBC Officers and Councillors to account. Be that as it may.
When I did not get any response from Inspector Kynman, it was initially unclear to me if my email was forwarded to Inspector Kynman by SBC, or if SBC had intercepted it and withheld it from Inspector Kynman, to protect Councillor Wild.
I therefore wrote to Chief Constable Winward stating my concern that my email to him to the SBC email@example.com email address had not been forwarded to him. I had a prompt and helpful response from the Chief Constable’s office confirming that my email to Inspector Kynman had indeed not been forwarded:
“I will ensure that your correspondence reaches Inspector Kynman as requested.
Please be advised that SaferScarboroughHub@scarborough.gov.uk is not a North Yorkshire Police email address and so your email will not have been forwarded to Graeme.”
SBC interception of Police Communications
I also wrote to SBC Leader Councillor Steve Siddons, asking him to confirm if SBC had intercepted and withheld my e mail to Inspector Kynman, but received no response.
I can only say that if my complaint about Councillor Wild was withheld by SBC, then it is a very serious abuse of SBC’s role in the Scarborough “multi-agency hub”.
It is down to the police to determine the response to a complaint, not SBC Councillors and Officers. By allowing SBC to intercept and sift out e mail complaints to the police SBC Officers and Councillors do not like, North Yorkshire Police have abdicated responsibility for policing to SBC. Knowing that valid complaints against politicians will be supressed.
In 2017, Councillor Tony Randerson (Labour) and Councillor Janet Jefferson (Independent) did a very good job of exposing the fact that SBC Officers were intercepting Councillors emails and vetting them. Sat next to Councillor Randerson was Councillor Steve Siddons, then (and now) Leader of the Labour Group, which was at that time in opposition to the Conservative led SBC.
Councillor Siddons is now Leader of the Council. While in office, he has extended the policy of intercepting and vetting emails which his party was so critical of when in opposition. Under Councillor Siddon’s Leadership, SBC now supresses complaints about Councillors by intercepting and vetting emails to the North Yorkshire Police. A purpose that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was never intended for.
Responsive local policing, the Kynman way
An email was eventually forwarded to Inspector Kynman setting out my belief that there had been a breach of the lockdown regulations by Councillor Wild. I asked that he:
- “Write to Whitby Town Council and Scarborough Borough Council and ask both bodies to prohibit attendance at any more of these events until after the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Consider if there has been a breach of the Coronavirus regulations or an offence of misconduct in public office and if so, that you initiate a prosecution, so that Councillors are treated in the same way as everyone else.”
My email was acknowledged, but I heard nothing more. So it appears that my letter was ignored by Inspector Kynman.
I wrote again to Chief Constable Winward asking for a response and was told that “I am advised that Inspector Kynman will not be providing a response”.
I leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.
The Peter Jaconelli precedent
By refusing to enter into correspondence or discussion on allegations of misconduct by the Conservative Mayor of Whitby, Inspector Kynman appears to be ignoring the principles that:
- We are all equal under the law.
- The police service will enforce the law without fear or favour.
This is at a time when North Yorkshire Police is aggressively prosecuting members of the public for apparently indulging in the same misconduct as the Mayor of Whitby, Chief Constable Winward, and Deputy Chief Constable Cain.
Historically, North Yorkshire Police have not enforced the law without fear or favour in Scarborough and Whitby. Peter Jaconelli was known to be abusing children in joint enterprise with Jimmy Savile. Yet North Yorkshire Police did nothing, because Jaconelli was wealthy, an influential Conservative Councillor and the Mayor of Scarborough, and Savile was wealthy and a prominent media personality. As a result, hundreds of children were raped, sexually abused and enticed into prostitution.
Now a situation has arisen where a leading, influential, Conservative Councillor and Mayor is alleged to have contravened the lockdown regulations and again, North Yorkshire Police has supressed a complaint.
In short, North Yorkshire Police is following exactly the same policy it followed with Jimmy Savile and Peter Jaconelli.
Inspector Graeme Kynman
Continuing the North Yorkshire Police policy of not investigating wealthy and influential Conservative Councillors it applied to Peter Jaconelli
Has the “partnership” of the police with SBC undermined the political independence of the police?
According to the North Yorkshire Police force website:
“The Neighbourhood Team [The North Yorkshire Police unit covering Scarborough and Whitby led by Inspector Kynman] are based within a multi-agency hub in Scarborough Borough Council’s Town Hall where they work on a daily basis with partners to try to achieve long term sustainable solutions to community issues.
The Neighbourhood Policing Team is supported by and work closely with 24/7 Patrol Officers who respond to the public calls for service and help to provide a high visibility presence to our communities.
North Yorkshire Police co-located & working collaboratively
Scarborough has had a multi-agency Community Safety Hub known as the Community Impact Team (CIT) which includes North Yorkshire Police, based in offices at Scarborough Town Hall, King Street, Scarborough.
Incidents of anti-social behaviour and neighbourhood disputes can be reported to the team via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01723 383646, 9am to 5pm on weekdays.”
This has some very serious implications for civil liberties in North Yorkshire.
I asked Inspector Kynman to write to WTC and SBC requesting that they prohibit any more of these gatherings in order to support the efforts of the NHS to protect the public and save lives. My request is entirely within force policy and the public interest. Yet Inspector Kynman is apparently refusing to comply with it.
Could this be because he does not want to upset NYP’s partner SBC, by criticising a prominent and influential Conservative WTC Councillor?
Attack on freedom of the press and the public’s right to know
The media has a duty to hold public officials and public bodies to account. The police have a duty to respect that.
Councillor Wild has chosen to be a public figure and has therefore chosen to be subject to media scrutiny. Quite apart from the fact that ignoring my correspondence on a matter of public interest in the neighbourhood Inspector Kynman is responsible for is discourteous for a public servant. It is also contrary to the public interest, because it withholds from the public in Scarborough and Whitby information on misconduct by a local public figure they have a right to know.
This undermines the ability of local media to inform the public and constitutes an attempt to inhibit the ability of local media to comment. In short it is an attack on free speech and the freedom of the press.
NYP involving itself in party politics
Councillor Wild is not an independent Councillor, she is a political figure and representative of the Conservative Party. Criticism of her is damaging to the Conservative Party in the same way that the storm of controversy over senior advisor Dominic Cummings making unnecessary journeys was also damaging to it.
Failing to treat a Conservative Councillor the same as everyone else and trying to supress media comment on allegations of misconduct by a politician smacks of North Yorkshire Police involving itself in party politics. As it did when it did not arrest Peter Jaconelli, because he was a prominent Conservative politician.
But then, what do you expect from a force where the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable openly abuse their positions to breach the guidance with impunity and are backed up by the Conservative Police Fire and Crime Commissioner?
Failure of media relations in North Yorkshire Police
I write for various media outlets including the North Yorks Enquirer (NYE). The NYE started out as Real Whitby and established a large local readership in Whitby, before going on to a wider readership in Scarborough and across Yorkshire. It is arguably the leading media outlet for Scarborough and Whitby covered by Inspector Kynman’s Neighbourhood Team.
I am proud to say that the NYE has supported the highly commendable efforts of Inspector Kynman and his officers to protect the public during the pandemic. It has an impeccable record of supporting North Yorkshire Police and other forces in multiple investigations and regularly posts appeals for information from North Yorkshire Police on crime in Scarborough and Whitby.
On this occasion the NYE has been successful in protecting the public by forcing SBC and WTC to abandon any more public gatherings to unveil statues. Thereby assisting Inspector Kynman and his officers to protect the public.
Yet Inspector Kynman is refusing to engage with the NYE, or follow up on information the NYE has passed on to the police.
Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Morgan, the National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Media Relations summed up the relationship between the police and the media perfectly in this quote:
“The media also play a vital role in holding the police service to account and in connecting us with the public – this includes highlighting when things may have gone wrong or where policing is under legitimate scrutiny. The relationship should also therefore be challenging and we need to recognise the role the media discharge on behalf of the public in ensuring that we are accountable. The responsibility to be open, transparent and accountable is part of the Code of Ethics and sits with everybody in policing.
In recent years there has been a perception, rightly or wrongly, that the police have withdrawn and communicate less openly with the media. This does policing a disservice and I am determined that we need to reset the relationship with the media – an appropriate and professional relationship between the police and the media is in the public interest.”
I consider that the approach taken by Inspector Kynman to this matter is obviously contrary to normal standards of policing and to the public interest. It is a classic example of the type of conduct that Deputy Chief Constable Morgan is so critical of.
In a uniformed disciplined organisation like the police, policy is set from the top. The Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police appears to me to be an Officer who has no interest in pursuing the type of constructive relationship with the media advocated by Deputy Chief Constable Morgan above. She also has no understanding of the impact of new media like the NYE will have on policing. Almost her fist act on becoming Chief Constable was to write to me cutting off all contact with the NYE.
Under these circumstances, being reasonable about things, you cannot expect Inspector Kynman to disobey the Chief Constable by responding properly to my mail, because he would thereby be committing career Hari Kari. Hence, I assert the reason he followed Chief Constable Winward’s dysfunctional policy of disengagement from the media.
The outcome of this is that the standard of policing provided to the people of Scarborough and Whitby is lower than in other parts of the country, where the local police force has a normal and constructive relationship with the media as advocated by Deputy Chief Constable Morgan above.
The NYE will continue to monitor this story and I will report back in due course.
NYE appeal for information
If you see breaches of the Coronavirus lockdown regulations by police officers or prominent public figures, please let me know using the email@example.com email address. All information will be treated in strict considence.
Right of Reply
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 using the firstname.lastname@example.org email address and your views and a correction will be published if appropriate.